ClearVision

ClearVision, a UK postal lending library of children's books with added braille.

'Feely' bookmark reads 'I could not bear to lose this book'

To celebrate the setting up of the brailled picture books we arranged for every child to be sent a couple of these tactile (feely) bookmarks, and some treasure them to this day. (Even if you can see perfectly, you can still make a feely bookmark of your own!)

'Feely' bookmark reads 'I am a star! I can read this book!'

Books in Braille

Anne Fine gives the background . . .

We want to be certain that everyone can build up a home library, not just those who can slope off to a bookshop at any old time. And it's a good deal more difficult to choose and get books if you're blind or seriously visually impaired. Even to browse through possible choices of reading can be a whole lot harder if you don't have sight.

Terry Pratchett, Philip Pullman, J K Rowling and Jacqueline Wilson all knew this too. So ten years ago, while I was Children's Laureate, I suggested to them that we all chip in so that a lot of the picture books that are most popular with younger blind and visually impaired children could be brailled and passed on for free. They're a generous lot, and all agreed at once.

ClearVision, a postal lending library of brailled and moon books, selected 12 well-loved picture book stories for blind and visually impaired readers. Prisoners at HM Prison Gartree added braille to the books so they could be read both ways, and re-bound them with the see-through Braille pages inside. The Inside Out Trust organised it all.

Now, every registered blind child in Britain is offered three lovely free books to start their own Home Library and share with the family. They keep those, but after that they can use the ClearVision library to borrow the books they fancy. In fact, anyone who is blind can be a member, so blind dads or uncles and grandmothers and neighbours can join and borrow books to share with the children in their lives. (Lots of libraries and schools who cater for a blind child or children also join the library, though they do have to pay a small annual subscription. For everyone else it is free.)

There are over thirteen thousand books in the ClearVision library now. Thirteen thousand! And they're of all sorts, including novelty board books so blind and partially-sighted babies and toddlers get used to finding braille on the page before they learn to read (just as sighted children get used to seeing print from an early age). There are over a thousand handmade books with tactile illustrations. Most of these books were sewn by volunteers, and this collection is the largest of its kind in the world.

So if you know anyone at all who might be interested, do please tell them to get in touch with Clearvision. The details are:

ClearVision Project, Linden Lodge School, 61 Princes Way, London SW19 6JB

Phone: 0208 789 9575 or email

www.clearvisionproject.org