RNIB: Keep the RNIB Giant Print Library Open

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RNIB has always had a truly excellent, free library service for children offering Giant Print, Braille and Audio books. They are now planning to close the Giant Print part of the library as they state that large print books can be bought elsewhere and that children can use electronic reading devices.

However there are a number of reasons that these hardcopy Giant Print books are still needed:

1. A very large number of children with VI are living in or close to the poverty line and do not have access to electronic reading devices and/or internet access at home. Whilst grants may be applied for to acquire these devices, families would still then have to BUY every electroncic book that their child reads and many cannot afford this.

2. There are several childhood eye conditions such as ocular albinism, nystagmus and many more that make prolonged screen use impossible or painful through eye strain and glare.

3. ‘Real’ hard copy large print books enable a child to read alongside their siblings, school friends and peers at school and at home.

4. You can buy wonderful large print books from Guide Dogs CustomEye Books but they are NOT a library service. You have to be able to afford the books and also find somewhere to store them – this can be a huge problem for families in cramped living conditions and those on low incomes.
5. Large print books are the only way that children with VI learn to use a library based system either from home or school – public libraries rarely supply large print books above font size 16 and their choice is extremely limited for children.

6. Audio books are a great choice for adults and children but most adults can read before they start to use audio books – it is vital that children with VI can actually SEE the print or they do not learn crucial literacy skills including spelling and punctuation.

We are in the middle of our second and possibly not last lockdown, now, more than ever, children with VI need access to books. Almost all of their out of school clubs and activities are closed. Many children are missing school. They may be sharing one electronic device that the family owns with one or more sibling who needs to access it for school work. Assuming that is that they have one.

We are asking RNIB to strongly reconsider their decision about the children's Giant Print Library. Its loss will be a huge blow to so many children, that will impact even further on their education and potential. Things are already so difficult for them – please make it better, not worse. Thank you.