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Last Updated: Sunday, 3 July 2005, 23:05 GMT 00:05 UK
Books boost for blind Potter fans
Geoff Adams-Spink
BBC News website disability affairs correspondent

Harry Potter book cover (UK version)
The new Harry Potter will be accessible to a wider audience
Visually impaired fans of Harry Potter will be able to buy Braille and large print copies of the next book at the same time as sighted readers.

The Royal National Institute of the Blind is taking orders for Braille copies of the novel, out on 16 July.

Normally, visually impaired readers have to wait months or even years for books to come out in other formats.

Making Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince available to everyone at the same time is a publishing first.

Author, JK Rowling, said: "I'm delighted to be part of a publishing initiative that gives blind and partially sighted children and adults the same reading opportunities as sighted book lovers."

The RNIB says more than 95% of books are never published in a format that is accessible to blind people.

"The right to read is often denied to people just because they're blind," said RNIB head of products and publications, John Godber.

"This is partly due to technology, and most publishers not realising that blind and partially sighted people want to read books."

He says publishers as well as the government have a shared responsibility to improve the situation.

'Really excited'

As part of the Right to Read Alliance, the RNIB worked closely with Rowling and her publishers, Bloomsbury, to ensure the book was available in other formats.

Bloomsbury will publish the standard and large print versions on 16 July while the RNIB will deal with the Braille edition.

One blind Potter fan - 10-year-old Richard Wheatley from South London - said he was "really excited" at the thought of being able to read the book by himself.

"Last time I had to get my mum to read it to me and it took two months to finish," he said.

"This time, I can get it as soon as my friends at school do, and even read it in the car and in bed at night when I'm supposed to be asleep."




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