The Royal National Institute of Blind People’s (RNIB) educational book service, RNIB Bookshare now has almost 748,000 books on its platform in accessible formats.
The free service, which supports over 34,000 print-disabled learners, has a vast UK education collection that provides textbooks and materials to support the UK curriculum from early years to adult education.
RNIB Bookshare can be accessed by teachers and students and the service offers a variety of accessible formats so books can be read electronically or adapted to suit personal reading needs. Books for leisure reading are also available.
Over 223,000 books were downloaded from RNIB Bookshare in 2020 and one person who has benefited from the service in the last year is Jessica Hardy who lives in West Sussex. The 11-year-old was born with cataracts, Microphthalmia and Nystagmus and used the RNIB Bookshare service during her primary school years. Jessica recently started high school and is still benefiting from the service.
Jessica’s mother, Samantha said: “RNIB Bookshare was essential for Jessica during her time in primary school and she now continues to use it in high school for a daily ‘Drop Everything and Read’ activity. It just makes everything more accessible for her and most importantly helps her feel included.
“Jessica needs books in large print and is a big fan of author, David Walliams. We have been able to add RNIB Bookshare to the app her school uses so she can access her books and join in with the reading activity.”
Similarly, 42-year-old Nicki Cockburn who lives in Cardiff also benefits from RNIB Bookshare. Nicki is registered as severely sight impaired with Leber Amaurosis and uses the service to access everything she needs for her studies in Counselling and Psychotherapy.
Nicki said: “RNIB Bookshare is such an invaluable service. It makes everything so much easier for me because I can download texts onto my Notetaker instead of carrying around bulky Braille books. I don’t have to just read university books that are relevant to my course, I can read any of the books in the collection.”
RNIB Bookshare Team Leader, Rochelle Pretsell said: “At a time when there is a clear national focus on how children and young people can catch up on missed opportunities after the pandemic’s disruption to their education, it is vital that all print disabled students, including those with a vision impairment are supported.
“We are thrilled that RNIB Bookshare continues to expand and now offers almost 748,000 books on its platform in a range of accessible formats. This service opens up the world of reading in education for millions of people by giving them access to materials that allow for an entirely independent learning experience.”
The RNIB Bookshare service was established in 2016 to help tackle the worldwide book famine, which sees less than 10 per cent of published works being made into accessible formats, such as braille, large print or audio.
To sign up to RNIB Bookshare, or for more information on the service, please visit rnibbookshare.org