The Digby Project: How can a picture book be accessible and inclusive to all children?

Children’s picture books have always had significance and importance in children’s lives. However picture books are not always made accessible to everyone. As someone with visual impairment myself, The Digby project was designed to create a series of books dedicated to be fully accessible and inclusive to all readers.

Featuring a little mole called Digby who is blind. Each story explores an adventure he embarks on and all the senses and sensations he experiences in the world surrounding him. Designed with blind and visually impaired readers in mind the books also feature braille as well as text and in future will also feature tactile elements.

Digby and the Great Unknown Cover


The beginning book to mark the project. Featuring Digby’s first adventure into the unknown. After taking a new route below the surface Digby finds himself above ground. Wandering into Ashwood Forest he becomes lost and scared but is soon met by Swift the fox who befriends him and encourages him to explore and help her fill her scrapbook. The story is designed to encourage children to explore the unknown and use their senses regardless of any disability they may have.

Digby and the Great Unknown Cover Image

Digby and the unknown


Digby’s first encounter of life above ground. A scary experience for him having never stood on leaves or heard birds chirping. This would feature tactile leaves made from sweet wrappers to give the feel and sound of dried leaves.

Digby and the unknown Image

Digby and Swift meet


Digby and swift are introduced and this marks the start of a wonderful friendship of exciting adventures to come. This would feature Swift’s tail being made tactile with a fur texture as well as Digby’s scarf or body being tactile also.

Digby and Swift meet Image

The Pinecone!


The first item for the scrapbook to be found by Digby. In using line outlines around the characters and items this makes it much easier for visually impaired readers to have more clarity and clear view of the elements on the page and have any key parts highlighted slightly.

The Pinecone! Image

Farewell Memories


To end the adventurous tale, a hug and memory to hold forever. I felt it would be a pleasant touch if both had a physical memory as to some it means more connection and can be more personal. To Digby this memory is something he can hold time and time again and have a sensory connection with the memory. 

Farewell Memories Image

Digby and the Big Beach Trip


The second book in the series. A trip at the beach can be a great day out for anyone! In this story Digby experiences the wonders of the seaside and all the activities that go with it. The story features interactive elements including scented smellable areas. In this story I created a dummy book version to explore how it may look and work as a finished book. 

Digby and the Big Beach Trip Image

Beach Trip Dummy book spread


The idea behind this part of the story was to allow Digby to explore the fun side of shopping. So I felt a hat shop would be a perfect experience and would also allow for tactile elements to represent the hats and include the audiences interaction as they read. 

Beach Trip Dummy book spread Image

Cake Shop!


Experiencing the smells of a cake shop is a wonderful sensation. I wanted to describe it here and allow Digby to experience it. My idea in this dummy book is to have liftable flaps which conceal a cake themed scent beneath, it could be cupcake, or cookie,.. or even pie, that’s for the audience to decide and enjoy. 

Cake Shop! Image

Gifts Galore!


Here Digby is discovering a bucket and spade but is a little confused as he thinks it could be for gardening with. Above the scene is kept simple and clear for visually impaired readers. A variety of postcards and the building beside I feel gives enough information the rest is whatever the reader imagines there to be.  

Gifts Galore! Image

The Museum of Marvels Cover


As a child I can fondly remember being taken by my parents to museums or interactive days out. I wanted to put the same theme into my book. The story features Digby and Swift on a trip to a town called Brightden . They come across a braille sign which talks of a new museum opening.

Curious, they visit and are given free passes to enter a new exhibit called the ‘Underground Quest’. Once inside the exhibit they explore numerous environments and have to pass them in order to complete the quest.

The Museum of Marvels Cover Image

VIP Guest


I wanted Digby to feel important in this part of the story. Being given your own pass or access can make you feel like a VIP or guest. I also wanted to make the entrance to the exhibit appear mysterious and inviting. 

VIP Guest Image

Under the Sea Quest


The first quest in the exhibit. Some of the sea creatures such as the whale would be made partly tactile to match Digby’s description of the texture. 

Under the Sea Quest Image

Volcanic Quest!


In this second quest of fiery fun. Digby and Swift are learning all about volcanoes. In future I feel ribbons would represent the volcanic eruption in a tactile way effectively.

Volcanic Quest! Image

Dino-tastic Quest!


A final quest of Jurrasic age. I felt dinosaurs would be a great final exhibit to put in as it has many interactive avenues and history. The footprints would be tactile for the audience to follow along to locate the dinosaurs as Digby is doing. 

Dino-tastic Quest! Image

Herb


Herb is an excitable and musically inspired hedgehog. Though she wears an eye patch it doesn’t stop her enjoying her passion for making music. She is featured in the final book of the series called ‘Digby and the Funky Foresters’. 

Herb Image

Bert


Bert is featured in “Digby and the Funky Foresters” alongside his friend and band mate Herb. He is just as excitable as Herb and despite being a little deaf loves creating music and singing along. His instrument of choice is a keyboard as he likes to be able to see the keys and music in-front of him.

Bert Image

Digby and the Funky Foresters Cover


This story marks the final book of the series so far. This time Digby and Swift embark on an adventure of musical proportions. Meeting the band HERBERT for the first time. Digby and Swift are invited to be part of the band and try out an instrument for themselves to find their perfect match in preparation for a concert!

Digby and the Funky Foresters Cover Image

The Band Camp


After being introduced the team are shown around HERBERT’S camp. This would feature tactile elements for the amp and possibly the spotlights or tent material. 

The Band Camp Image

Drum Kit Tryout


In the story it features Digby trying out other instruments to see what works best for him. Each of the instruments he tries would feature a larger tactile version on the right page that the audience can try and feel like part of the band. Here the idea is that the drums work best for Digby as they are more reliant on touch and give off more of a sensory response. 

Drum Kit Tryout Image

Jam Session


Once Digby is happy with his choice he is met by Swift and Herb. Swift has her choice as well and they both have a little play together. 

Jam Session Image

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