It is a rarity to see accessible literature stocked in local mainstream libraries for children who have a visual impairment. This post is provided by a parent, who managed to make her library an inclusive environment for her braille reading daughters.
Was it an effortless task?
Did the local authority play ball?
What kicked off this one parent’s crusade to ensure that the libraries catered to her daughters?
‘My turning point came when my one daughter said her ambition was ‘to be rich enough to own a Braille library so she could read all the books on the shelves’
It took me 11 emails and countless phone calls to get my county council to stock Braille library books.
They quite simply said, they couldn’t afford to stock them and there wasn’t any call for them. They used to subscribe to a Braille book loan scheme with a charity but these books were stored in one library and not all the different libraries knew they existed and I doubt any parents knew they existed so no one used them and they cancelled the subscription.
In fairness this one library joined in with RNIB’s Make a Noise event and I took my children and put the Braille books out on display but there were no other VI children in attendance. Eventually, I persuaded my local library to stock Braille books loaned through RNIB. Once the county realised there was no cost and my local library were willing to stock them on a shelf they joined RNIB’s scheme. Now my girls love going to the library and getting their books!
It just seems a shame that it took months to set up and that I had to do all the donkey work to persuade them to agree to it. I know I could get the books delivered to my home and this would have been much easier, but my turning point came when my one daughter said her ambition was ‘to be rich enough to own a Braille library so she could read all the books on the shelves’.
At that time we were in our local library getting books for my sighted son and I saw her wistfully touching all the books on the shelves she could not access unless I read them to her (which I often did). It’s not just that libraries need to be more accessible and stock Braille or large print books, county councils need to help families access books and work with the charities in stocking them.
I was just sent a load of standard links to charities and my local support for the blind charity and just left to get on with it – they weren’t interested in actually helping me.
My county council have been great with audio books which we can loan for free, and have always paid for us to be members of RNIB talking books which I have always thanked them for. But literacy begins with actual reading and for this children need to access books. How on earth can we get children to read if we don’t provide them with accessible books. My daughters now love going to the library it’s turned from a negative experience to a positive, I just wish I have done it much earlier.