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Last Updated: Monday, 7 November 2005, 17:10 GMT
Writers call for blind book funds
Photo of a DAISY player, books and CDs
A talking book costs about 2,500 and takes five days to record
Leading authors have called for the government to act to help end the "book famine" faced by the blind.

Crime author Ruth Rendell and Gosford Park writer Julian Fellowes are backing a Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) call for government funds.

The RNIB, which is marking its talking book service's 70th anniversary, says 96% of books are not available in audio, large print or Braille form.

Mr Fellowes said the government needed to "get involved" in funding services.

Mr Fellowes, the chairman of the RNIB's talking books appeal, said: "It is a really useful thing and it is not exactly neglected, but there is a kind of acceptance that it is just the job of charity to do it.

"There are 10,000 titles which, of course, is great, and I don't mean to diminish that, but there are 100,000 books published every year so that shows how little access the blind have to our output.

"I just think it is something governments have to get involved in."

Children's author Jacqueline Wilson is also backing the RNIB's fundraising appeal, entitled Give the Joy of Reading.

Support bid

Subscribers pay 70 per year for access to the RNIB library.

Books are sent out on CDs and played on machines specially designed for those with poor sight.

Julian Fellowes
Author Julian Fellowes has voiced six talking books for the blind

RNIB spokeswoman Ciara Smyth said: "We want the government to support us so that we can work in partnership with publishers and other organisations so we can produce more books, because 96% of books are not produced in accessible formats.

"We have got to be able to do something to produce more books."

Since the service began, some 75 million talking books have been lent to people with sight problems in the UK.

The Talking Book Service was developed for the thousands of servicemen who were blinded in the trenches of the First World War.

The first recordings of books were sent out on 7 November, 1935 on long-playing records and included Typhoon by Joseph Conrad and The Murder Of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie.

Talking books' 70th anniversary
07 Nov 05 |  Technology
In pictures: history of talking books
07 Nov 05 |  In Pictures
Books boost for blind Potter fans
03 Jul 05 |  Entertainment
'Book famine' for blind people
20 Oct 03 |  Scotland


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