RNIB Bookshare: Shoreham mum says educational book service is ‘essential’ for her daughter, who has same vision condition as Richard Osman

A Shoreham family is helping highlight the RNIB Bookshare service for vision impaired students at a time when many young people are working to catch up on their education due to disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
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Jessica Hardy, 11, who has the same vision condition as Richard Osman, has been using the service since it was first introduced in 2016. Her mum Samantha said the charity’s support had been essential, not only for school books but all reading material.

Jessica was born with cataracts, the birth defect microphthalmia, meaning her eyes are small, and the vision condition nystagmus, which causes her eyes to make repetitive, uncontrolled movements.

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She requires large print to read and as a pupil at St Nicolas and St Mary Primary School in Shoreham, she was able to use the free RNIB Bookshare service, which provides textbooks and materials to support the UK curriculum in accessible formats.

Jessica Hardy, 11, from Shoreham enjoys reading, thanks to the RNIB Bookshare schemeJessica Hardy, 11, from Shoreham enjoys reading, thanks to the RNIB Bookshare scheme
Jessica Hardy, 11, from Shoreham enjoys reading, thanks to the RNIB Bookshare scheme

Having recently started at Davison High School in Worthing, Jessica will continue to benefit from the service, which supports more than 34,000 print disabled learners.

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.”

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The charity said the educational book service was established ‘to help tackle the worldwide book famine’, which sees less than ten per cent of published works being made into accessible formats, such as braille, large print or audio.

RNIB Bookshare continues to grow and now has almost 748,000 books available to support print-disabled students.

Rochelle Pretsell, team leader, 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.

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“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.”

RNIB Bookshare supports learners from early years to adult education. It can be accessed by teachers and students, offering 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.

To sign up to RNIB Bookshare, visit www.rnibbookshare.org

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