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Monday, 27 May, 2002, 08:50 GMT 09:50 UK
Books plea for blind people
Eye test
One in five Scots cannot read small print
Campaigners have called for more to be done to help blind and partially sighted Scots to enjoy books and magazines.

Only 5% of all publications are made available in large print, braille or on audio tapes, the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) Scotland said.

It said that 180,000 Scots are being denied the right to read because so few books and magazines are available in suitable formats.

The RNIB wants ministers to set up a 20m fund so that the blind and partially sighted are "able to read the same book at the same time and at the same price as sighted people".


If a blind or partially sighted person in Scotland wants to read, they are faced with poor choice, additional expense and they often have to rely on charities

Mike Cairns
RNIB
According to a report published by the RNIB, 95% of books in Scotland are not made available in large print, braille or audio formats.

One in five Scots cannot read small print and commercially-available audio books are usually abridged and often twice as expensive as the print version, it said.

The charity said that young people are particularly badly affected because they cannot read magazines aimed at teenagers.

They are now calling on supporters to lobby MSPs and MPs in a bid to force the government to take action.

Mike Cairns, director of RNIB Scotland, said: "If a blind or partially sighted person in Scotland wants to read, they are faced with poor choice, additional expense and they often have to rely on charities to transcribe or lend books to them.

'Right to Read'

"RNIB Scotland believes that this is state of affairs is unacceptable.

"We want blind and partially sighted people to be able to read the same book at the same time and at the same price as sighted people."

As well as the 20m 'Right to Read' fund, the group wants VAT on audio books to be abolished to come into line with print books and for the publishing industry to be given tax incentives to produce alternative format books.

In a separate report, the RNIB also revealed that only 5% of libraries across Scotland have policies that specifically address the needs of the blind and partially sighted.

The RNIB campaign is being supported by Edwin Morgan, Glasgow's poet laureate.

He said: "Everyone enjoys a good read now and then, so it's a poor indictment on today's society when such a large number of visually impaired Scots still cannot enjoy one of life's simplest pleasures.

"Whether people want to read a magazine, poetry or the latest fiction book, something must be done to enable everyone to read what they want and when they want."

See also:

02 Apr 02 | Scotland
27 Mar 01 | Health
23 May 01 | Health
17 Sep 98 | Entertainment
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