Since 1993, BBC Children In Need has supported Living Paintings, enabling us to reach 8,000 blind and partially sighted children across the UK with our unique Touch to See books and bespoke, free library service.
For blind children like 10-year-old Imogen, access to our Touch to See books has a very real, positive impact on daily life. Visually impaired children up and down the country have the opportunity to enjoy the same picture books as their friends and peers, and learn from accessible materials that level the educational playing field.
In fact, in a recent survey, we found that 98% of children who use our service have an increased interest in learning while 97% have experienced a positive change in their confidence socialising and making friends.
It’s only thanks to public donations and funding from organisations like Children in Need that we can continue to offer vital support to blind children and their families.
Here’s Imogen’s mum with her story.
Due to her low level of vision and nystagmus, Imogen is a cane user, braillist and touch-typer. She has an access worker at school to help with adapting educational materials. Imogen has very sporadic and reduced peripheral vision and is photophobic, meaning that she struggles in varying light levels and with depth perception.
All of this said, Imogen is an amazingly determined and competent child. She is in mainstream school maintaining good grades and excels in many sports, and competes in these for her local teams.
Imogen is a happy and sociable girl who loves spending time with her family and friends at the park, restaurants and Brownies to name a few –she’s a busy bee.
Imogen’s visual impairment affects her accessing what a lot of us take for granted: all the coincidental learning. For example, on a car journey you can commonly hear, “Look there’s a cow in the field”, “Oh yes mummy, a moo cow” is what you’d expect ‘normally’, but for Imogen, she can’t see the cow so doesn’t know where it is, what it looks like and the shape of it. This means that Imogen needs this to be described to her and for her to build an image in her mind. Adults need to use vocabulary to explain what and why so that Imogen can have a bank of explanations to call on when needed – “Yes mummy, is the cow black and white?” can then be the response.
Living Paintings enables Imogen to hear and create her own images of objects, places, people and things. For example, she can use her sense of touch to feel around the raised pictures and follow the description enabling her to feel the ‘checks’ in Rupert Bear’s scarf or sunflowers in Van Gogh’s painting. All of this enables Imogen to paint a picture in her ‘mind’s eye’.
These learning experiences are able to be shared with her younger sister and she can recall on these pictures in her mind when sharing and telling stories with friends and in school.
Imogen is an inquisitive child who likes to know what, where, when and why, and learning using all of her available senses along with her academic ability enables her to quench that need and grow in her development.
Please show your support for Living Paintings and Children in Need by tuning into the live broadcast on Friday 15th November 2019. Thank you.