Tactile Flags

What I hear from My Desk

by Carolyn Meyer

Carolyn Meyer“I pledge allegiance to the flag …”

Each school day starts with students and staff speaking these words while facing an American flag proudly held by one of the students. The flags, we have two of them, were designed and created by volunteers Zora Rockney and Nora Schultz.

The flags are tactile so that those whose eyes do not see can discern the various aspects by touch. The seven red stripes are of a smooth red fabric; the six white stripes are of a bumpy white fabric similar to that used to create tread on bedroom slippers. The piece d’resistance is the field of fifty stars, each individually embroidered so that they can be counted by feeling them with the finger tips. Arlo Rockney attached one of the flags to a pole and crafted a stand. That flag resides in the school library. The other graces the wall of our classroom.

We were pleased when some of our friends offered to make tactile flags for our neighboring countries to the north and south, Canada and Mexico. Those flags were presented to the school in September by Maida Pojtinger, instigator of the project, and Chris Witzke, who, along with Sue Gregory, designed and stitched the flags. Appliquéing the maple leaf on the Canadian flag was fairly straight forward. The Mexican flag, with its eagle perched on a prickly pear tree and devouring a serpent, presented a greater challenge which the creative stitchers readily overcame. Now we are thinking it would be nice to have flags for Japan and England.

A visually impaired student of ours once asked, very seriously and politely, for a tactile flag of every country in the world. We have a good start!