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Local woman benefits from book service for blind and partially sighted people

Sheila Kinch, 65, from Caerau in Cardiff is urging other blind and partially sighted people to enjoy books from RNIB Cymru’s transcription service this National Read a Book day (Friday 6 September 2019).

Sheila, who has been accessing the free service for six years, is passionate that losing your sight doesn’t have to mean losing access to a world of books.

Sheila said: “I have always been a keen reader but when I was diagnosed with cataracts and retinal detachments I had to switch to audiobooks. I enjoy listening to books, but the selection is quite limited and often the books I want to hear aren’t yet available.

“RNIB told me about its transcription service and now I can get any book I like as an audio file on a memory stick. I love reading about a range of topics like history, religion and politics. Some of the books on my list are very niche, so the transcription service means that I always get to choose exactly what I want to read.

“I can’t recommend the service enough. When you listen to a book, your imagination can run wild and take over. It ignites your interest and broadens your horizons. Even if you have trouble getting out and about, getting into a great story can help you to feel connected to the world.”

But many blind and partially sighted people aren’t aware that they can access the books they know and love or want to read. Not being able to access reading material in the right format can present significant barriers to leading an independent, fulfilling life. In extreme cases, it can lead to feelings of isolation and depression.

The chance to access books, magazines and other texts in a variety of formats can be a lifeline for people living with eye conditions. However, only 10 per cent of all books published in the UK are available in accessible formats.

That is why RNIB Cymru offers a free transcription service for blind and partially sighted people across the UK. Customers simply send their book of choice to the charity and choose the format that best suits them. Transcribed books are available in Braille, large and giant print, audio CD, Daisy CD or USB stick, and electronic text. The service provides up to 600 transcribed pages per year free of charge. The service provides up to 600 transcribed pages per year free of charge. Voluntary donations are requested and customers must pay for the USB sticks and CDs themselves.

RNIB Cymru Transcription Manager Emma Jones said: “Being able to read is a fundamental right and RNIB’s personal transcription service gives people with sight loss the opportunity to read material of their choice.

“Reading is important to all of us. Everyone has a piece of writing they hold close to their heart; a favourite childhood story, a life-changing novel or even a cherished letter. Regular reading has been proven to reduce stress, improve memory and increase concentration. Even in the era of smartphones and on-demand television, reading is still a national pastime.

“In addition to the many titles selected for our libraries, through this service, people can lose themselves in a novel by their favourite author, develop their interests or knowledge, or whatever else they choose, however unique or specialist. Over the last few years, our team of volunteers have enjoyed producing titles for more than 100 people in Wales, but we want to reach so many more.”

To find out more about RNIB Cymru’s transcription services visit https://www.rnib.org.uk/wales-cymru-how-we-can-help/cardiff-transcription-centre or contact Emma Jones at [email protected].