The First Ethiopian Braillin – Braille Learning Doll for Children

January 14, 2011 13 Comments

Braillin Braille Learning Doll

First off, we shall tell you the story of the Braillin doll as a tribute to its creator Virginia Araceli Perez de Vallejo, a teacher from the province of Corrientes in Argentina.  She is one of these anonymous heroines who has contributed and invented great things for humanity.

Virginia is a teacher at the Corrientes Special School No.26 for the blind and visually impaired in Argentina.  By squeezing the six very large buttons on the chest of her Braillin doll, children who have difficulty seeing can learn all the possible combinations of the Braille alphabet.  This toy, slightly modified, was first presented to the world by ONCE (National Organization for the Blind in Spain).  Braillin became the first global initiative to teach Braille to children through play.  In 2006, Braillin was the mascot for the Spanish Paralympics team.

So far so good, but the sad twist in the tale is that Braillin has never made it into the schools of Argentina because of a lack of money to commercialize and distribute it within the country.

We, at Mediterranea, after having written to Virginia to ask for her permission and advice, are going to make our own Ethiopian Braillin and Braillina dolls.  We already have a group of very skilled ladies who have committed to produce the dolls for the blind children of Akaki Mengist School.  At the moment there are 17 such children at the school but that number is set to change when we have built the new classrooms.

For the moment, and while we await the birth of the Ethiopian Braillin dolls, we are sending them play based teaching materials from Spain.  We had wanted to buy a lot more but the prices of these educational toys are high and those labeled specially for the disabled are even higher.  For this reason we are trying to make what we can by our own handicraft methods.  In Ethiopia, one can find Braille books in English and Amharic, Braille materials and Perkins Braillers, which are Braille typewriters.  We are going to subsidize the purchase of these items, all of which are essential for the blind.

Braille Alphabet Table

To start with though, and bearing in mind that these children have never been taught, they will have to practice the system of Braille using eggcups and small balls.  The system consists of cells of six points in relief, organized as a matrix of 3 lines and 2 columns, that conventionally are numbered from top to bottom and left to right, as shown in the photo above.  For this reason the eggcups and balls will be very useful and when their Braillin dolls arrive (with our next trip in April 2011) they will be even more motivated to learn.

We are very excited to bring these special items to Ethiopia and further help those in need and with special disabilities. Thank you to our creative and compassionate volunteers and handy men and women.

Tags: , , , , Helping Ethiopia, Helping Kids
13 Comments to “The First Ethiopian Braillin – Braille Learning Doll for Children”
  1. Petrina says:

    I just sent you an email. In case you don’t receive it, I am hoping to interview your organization with a few others who help the Ethiopian community. Keep up the great work!

  2. Stephen Guerra says:

    Is this doll available yet? Good luck with your program.

  3. Where can the doll be purchased?
    Please send the information. We have a client who has been trying to locate a Braille Doll for sometime.
    Your assistance in this matter is greatly appreciated.
    Janice Hanvey
    Administrative Assistant with Helen Keller National Center SE Office.

  4. Paula says:

    I am interested in ordering the braille dolls (the blue boy and pink girl dolls). I am a teacher of the visually impaired and would love to use these with the children I work with.
    Paula Gladback

  5. says:

    We apologize for our oversight in your request. We will pass your email and info on to Dr. Stoma at Mediterranea. Thank you for reaching out!

  6. says:

    We apologize for our oversight in your request. We will pass your email and info on to Dr. Stoma at Mediterranea. Thank you for reaching out!

  7. says:

    We apologize for our oversight in your request. We will pass your email and info on to Dr. Stoma at Mediterranea. Thank you for reaching out!

  8. Kasey says:

    I am wondering if I could get more info about the doll. How to order and price?

  9. Stephanie smith says:

    My grand baby is visually impaired and I would love to be able to purchase one of thes for a Christmas gift!!!!!

  10. Jan says:

    Is there an online place I can order one or more of these dolls?

  11. Jennifer says:

    Where can I order one of these dolls?

  12. Jennifer says:

    Where can I purchase one of the braille cell dolls?

  13. Elisabeth says:

    Where kan I purchase these dolls?

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