Tactile drawings with all their "sighted" conventions constitute one of the most difficult areas in education of children with a visual impairment. Two-dimensional representations of objects neither look nor feel like their three-dimensional "inspirations". It is therefore important that the child gains understanding of the very idea of the concept of a "drawing" before engaging in exploration of tactile drawings and diagrams.*

FLEXIMAN is an educational tool prompted by a comment from a totally blind child, who said: "I can understand drawings of people standing but I can't understand drawings showing people doing different things."

FLEXIMMAN was designed to help children with a visual impairment improve understanding of body parts and understanding of tactile drawings showing people performing different activities. This magnetic "stick figure" of a man can be adjusted to take up different postures. Asking the child to imitate (copy) Fleximan, or to "rearrange" FLEXIMAN so that the magnetic man "performs" different activities or copies postures prompted by the child can be used to create endless opportunities for improving understanding of the child's own body. Tactile overlays which come with FLEXIMAN can be used to fill the outlines with the magnetic shapes, helping understand the relation between the body and a drawing of a person. In this type of exercise FLEXIMAN works as an intermediate stage between a three-dimensional object (human body) and its two-dimensional representation.

FLEXIMAN comes in three versions, which make a set showing human body from different perspectives - left and right profiles, as well as back and front. For this, modeling clay can be used to indicate front view of FLEXIMAN. (by adding eyes, nose and mouth). This way FLEXIMAN can offer invaluable help in explaining and reinforcing understanding of such concepts as "left" and "right" (FLEXIMAN's left arm will either be on child's left or right hand side depending on whether FLEXIMAN is facing the child or not.) Additional activities can be found in "Playing and Learning with Fleximan" and in "Tactile Graphics: Games for concept understanding, mobility and orientation". Lightweight magnetic boards are offered as an option.

FLEXIMAN can also be used as invaluable help in such areas as physical training and foreign languages by introducing and explaining different activities and by combining concept development with language practice in accessible contexts.


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