Several years ago, before the Louis Braille Center became the Louis Braille School, volunteer Zora Rockney made for us a tactile United States flag. Each color was represented by a fabric of a different texture, and the embroidered stars could be counted with the fingers.
Sylvie Kashdan (right) and Robby Barnes, long-time friends of the Center and the School, learned about our special flag and determined we should have flags of other countries as well.
They contacted Ann Gardiner, a well-known specialist in creating tactile flags. Unknown to us, Ann, who lives in England, has been hard at work creating more flags for our school.
Sylvie and Robby recently visited the Louis Braille School and presented an array of flags to our students. All of the flags use combinations of red, white, or blue. White is represented by a bumpy fabric, red by a smooth fabric, and blue by a soft felt.
The first flags we examined were those of the United Kingdom: Ireland (St. Patrick’s Cross), Scotland (St. Andrew’s Saltire), English National Flag (St. George’s Cross).
Then came the National Flag of the United Kingdom, the Union Jack. We were surprised to learn that the Union Jack contains all of the flags of the United Kingdom:
the Scottish St. Andrew’s Saltire, a blue background with a white cross going diagonally from corner to corner
the Irish St. Patrick’s cross, a white background with a red cross going diagonally from corner to corner
the English St. George’s Cross, a white background with a broad red cross going from left to right and top to bottom.
Ann also made flags of some other countries that use red, white, and blue: France, Netherlands, Czech Republic, the Dominican Republic.
A tag is attached to each flag identifying the flag in print and braille. A key to the colors consists of strips of fabric tagged in braille as to the color.
Sylvie and Robby also gave the school several tactile/braille United States and World atlases. These atlases join with our talking/tactile globes and our tactile topographic maps to make a good library of resources for geography and history.