bella_coola_240x1801“The ability to read is a cornerstone for success in education, work, and life; literacy is the essential skill upon which all other learning depends.” – BC Ministry of Education

The First Nations K-12 Literacy Program has 260 carefully selected books designed to teach the language, culture and history of Aboriginal Peoples. The goal of the program is to foster a love of reading for students using quality literature, instill a sense of pride and awareness of Aboriginal People’s culture and history, and increase oral language and reading fluency.

SET-BC is proud to partner with the Central Coast School District in this incredibly valuable literacy program. As one of our Remote and Rural Schools Projects, we are helping to coordinate the production of the alternate formats for each book. Once produced, through our partnership with ARC-BC, these books will be available for students with perceptual disabilities across the province.

A major component of the literacy project is the audio book support. Students struggling with reading will be able to listen to an audio book on a computer and follow along in the book to get a sense of language and narrative. With practice and gained confidence, the student will later read aloud the text to a teacher or a peer. Because of the rich oral tradition of Aboriginal Peoples, it is hoped that these audio recordings will enhance and support student reading progress.

Initially, we anticipated the most challenging part of this project would be the recording of the audio books. The project team assumed an extended timeline for completion of the project was needed and had planned to take a slow-and-steady approach for this component of the project. We thought that the audio recordings could take several years to complete. To our delight, during the initial planning of the project, the Crane Library of the Access and Diversity office at the University of British Columbia called to inquire about the possibility of helping with audio production. They have over 125 volunteer readers that record texts for students, staff and faculty with perceptual disabilities. And since their volunteers had completed the required recording for the university semester, the Crane Library staff members were looking for materials that their volunteers could record during the coming months. As a result, we are very fortunate and grateful to the Crane Library staff and volunteers for offering their time, committing to record 60+ higher level books to specifically support this Literacy Program.
The UBC volunteer readers will be reading for 24 hours in 8 recording booths this coming Friday, April 20, from 8:30 am to 8:30am Saturday. That’s 196 hours of recording time!

The joint efforts and partnership of SET-BC, Central Coast School District, ARC-BC and the UBC Crane Library certainly demonstrates the power of collaboration. As we gain momentum in producing these books in alternate formats we look forward to the exciting launch of the First Nations Literacy Program this coming fall in Bella Coola!