Thursday, 6 March 2014

World Book Day

As an English graduate, it is only natural that I have a passion for books. At primary school age I could often be found with a book pressed up against my nose and I was very proud to have a pin badge stating I was a school librarian. When I was ten my vision dramatically deteriorated resulting in me no longer being able to access standard print. However, I have vivid memories of reading the Harry Potter series under my CCTV despite the massive eye strain and gradual increase in magnification over the years, as my sight continued to fade away.

From the age of eleven, I was encouraged to learn Braille, but I had no real interest in learning since as far as I was concerned I could still read print and Braille was for proper blind people, which I certainly was not! My attitude changed when I went to The Royal National College for the Blind In Hereford. I began to learn Braille again and by the January I was no longer able to access print even under my CCTV. The final Harry Potter book was due for release later that year and I had to read it no matter what. My first plan involved trying to train my eyes to see again. I spent countless days, weeks and months attempting to read under my CCTV praying that the blurred text would come back into focus once more. This plan unfortunately failed, but I still possess the strong belief that if we are not proactive with our senses they will not work to their full potential. Even though I only have light perception remaining, I will regularly make a conscious effort to locate windows in a room, count headlights on cars or generally have a look around to find any sort of light source. Back to my Harry Potter dilemma, I felt Braille was my only option in order to discover if Harry could conquer Lord Voldermort or not. It took me two long hard months to read The Deathly Hallows in Braille, but I did it!

Thereafter, I became a member of RNIB’s Library Service, loaning various titles in Braille, which to this day take me an age to read. It wasn’t until I began my degree that I started to make use of audio/talking books. Being a book snob, audio/talking books never appealed before, as I felt that they take away from the reading experience. The interpretation of characters is that of someone else’s imagination and not your own. However, purely for speed purposes, I turned to the dark side.

Now, I am also a member of RNIB’s Talking Books Service. Admittedly, the majority of my reading these days is done via listening rather than touch. It is a convenience thing. Audio is faster and much easier to transport, so ideal for extensive train journeys or holidays. Nevertheless, Braille has its advantages too, the reading experience is more personal and new books are usually produced in Braille, sometimes years before it gets recorded into audio. It is nice to have the choice.

There comes a time when you have to choose between turning the page and closing the book (Josh Jameson)

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