RNIB Bookshare: Shoreham’s mother says educational book service is ‘essential’ for daughter, who has same vision problem as Richard Osman


Jessica Hardy, 11, who suffers from the same vision problem as Richard Osman, has been using the service since its introduction in 2016. Her mother Samantha said the association’s support has been essential, not only for textbooks, but also for all reading material.

Jessica was born with cataracts, microphthalmia, birth defect, which means her eyes are small, and nystagmus which affects vision, causing her eyes to make repetitive and uncontrolled movements.

She needs large print to read and in primary school she was able to use the free RNIB Bookshare service, which provides textbooks and materials to support the UK curriculum in accessible formats.

11-year-old Jessica Hardy from Shoreham enjoys reading, thanks to RNIB Bookshare program

Having recently started high school, Jessica will continue to benefit from the service, which supports over 34,000 print-disabled learners.

Samantha said, “RNIB Bookshare was essential to Jessica during her time in elementary school and she now continues to use it in high school for daily Drop Everything and Read activity. It just makes it more accessible to her and, most importantly, helps her feel included.

“Jessica needs large print books and is a huge fan of author David Walliams. We were able to add RNIB Bookshare to the app her school uses, so she could access her books and participate in the reading activity.

The charity said the educational books service was created “to help fight the global book famine,” which sees less than ten percent of published works transformed into accessible formats, such as braille, large print or audio.

RNIB Bookshare continues to grow and now has nearly 748,000 books available to help students unable to read print.

Rochelle Pretsell, Team Leader, said: “At a time when there is a clear focus on how children and youth can make up for missed opportunities after their education disrupted by the pandemic, it is essential that all students unable to read printed matter, including those with a visual impairment are supported.

“We are delighted that RNIB Bookshare continues to grow and now offers nearly 748,000 books on its platform in a range of accessible formats.

“This service opens up the world of reading in education to millions of people by giving them access to materials that enable a fully independent learning experience.”

RNIB Bookshare supports learners from early childhood through adult education. It can be viewed by teachers and students, offering a variety of accessible formats so that books can be read electronically or tailored to personal reading needs. Recreational reading books are also available.

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