Did you receive the book you really wanted for Christmas? The latest crime-thriller, a tome of festive recipes, the biography of a favourite celeb?
If so, spare a thought for adults or children who are blind or partially sighted, for whom only a minority of books published in the UK are available in formats that are accessible to them.
Sight loss charity RNIB is working hard to fill the gap. Its ‘talking books’ audio-library, free to members, is the largest in Europe, boasting over 25,000 titles.
But it costs £2,500 to record each new title with a professional narrator, and £1,500 or a children’s book. RNIB relies on individuals and groups of friends, family and work-colleagues who take part in sponsored walks, bake-sales and other fun events to raise money for this.
Angela Preston, fundraising manager for RNIB Scotland, said: “For over 80 years, talking books have been an absolute lifeline to our members, many of whom are elderly and live alone. Today, we send out over one million books a year to blind and partially sighted readers in formats such as audio CD and digital download.
“In 2017, you can help us change the story and make even more books available. It’s for a great cause. And once the money has been raised you choose from a list of books waiting to be narrated on which to record your own dedication.”
Already one supporter, Imran Akhtar from Glasgow, has set up an online Just Giving page for his first ever parachute jump in aid of Talking Books.
‘Downton Abbey’ creator Lord (Julian) Fellowes, now one of RNIB’s Vice Presidents, said: “I’m a big believer in the power of a good story and have seen how RNIB’s Talking Books can transform the lives of blind and partially sighted people. My first order of business in my new role is going to be working with RNIB to raise £1m to expand their library of audio books which act as a lifeline to the outside world for so many.”
There are over 180,000 people in Scotland with a significant sight problem, and over two million across the UK.
RNIB’s Talking Books service is completely free-of-charge and can be used by anyone who has difficulty reading standard-print books, including those with dyslexia as well as sight loss conditions.