Picture of Eileen Finch, Sue Hendra and Mike O'Sullivan chatting at the Imagine Festival at the Southbank Centre with the London skyline behind them.

Access2books hits the SENCO Bulletin

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June and July have been great months for Access2books. And we just couldn’t wait to share the news with you. First up, Access2books was featured in the SENCO Bulletin [Special Educational Needs Coordinator] last month. The article was written by Karen Nicholls who is a Visual Impairment Specialist Teacher in Essex County. She also happens to be an Access2books Director or Trustee.

Here is her article below.

Picture of article by Karen Nicholl's written in the SENCO bulleting. The heading says:  Early years resources for children with Visual Impairments- Karen Nicholls, Visual Impairment Specialist Teacher   The body of the article states:   Several months ago, while I was visiting one of my weekly braillists in a village school in mid Essex, the Library book bus arrived in the school car park.  The class of the child I was visiting and I trooped on to the bus and I went up to the driver, asking if he had any large print or braille copies of children’s books, knowing what the answer would be.  He took me to a section of the books, but the print was not very large at all.  We selected some picture books and returned to class.  A few weeks later, when I was visiting there, the child’s learning support assistant showed me some books that had come in the recent visit from the library bus. They were the most beautifully produced books, in size 72 print and also had braille! The librarian had obviously gone back to the central library and forwarded my request.  I was very impressed with the books, but I had a concern about the braille, as it was embossed on both sides and very young children need braille on only one side.  I contacted the publishers, Access2Books and mentioned my concern.  Eileen Finch contacted me several times over the following weeks and invited me to her place of work to see production. In return for my feedback, she has given me several copies of her books, each worth at least £25 and they have been distributed among the Visual Impairment Specialist Teachers in Essex.  They have acted on my advice and are also producing books with braille on only one side.  Although these books are expensive for parents to buy, I have discovered that they are available in many Essex Libraries. Parents need only ask for them to be available in their local branch.  Please see the website for more details.  http://www.access2books.org/  At the bottom of the article are some pictures. The one on the left shows the front cover of the ook The Gruffal written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler. In the image,  The Gruffalo standing on the edge of a gravel path and holding onto a tree. He is lloking down at a mouse on the path. Beyond the Gruffalo is lush green grass and tall green trees.   To the right of the front page are two pictures merged into one. One of the pictures at the bottom are the inner pages of the grufalo. The left hand side is text with Braille at the bottom while the right is an enhanced picture of the mouse standing on a stone in the midle of the forest surrounded by tall, dark, brown trees. The picture above is the original picture from the original book but it is not as accessible as the one from the Access2books' picture because it hasn't been cropped and made to focus on the important things in the picture.

A SENCO, in a nutshell, is responsible for day to day operations of the school’s SEN policy. All mainstream schools have to appoint someone to be their SENCO.

Appearing in the SENCO Bulletin is wonderful news for us here at Access2books.

We are proud to be making such inroads and helping to raise awareness about what we do.

It is also great news to witness how our books are making an impact in a community that is close to our hearts and quite a distance away from us.

When we make our books in-house, they are just orders and numbers.

We don’t get to see the users and what kind of an impact the books have on them until we get  feedback from some of the users, librarians and parents who interact with someone or people who use the books.

Such feedback for us is priceless as we can gauge if our books are meeting their needs.

The feedback also drives us to improve the quality of our books as illustrated by the feedback by Karen about the double embossed Braille.

We have taken her comments on-board and duly implemented her concerns into our formatting.

In addition, as mentioned last week, we have since revamped The Gruffalo and made the pictures more lighter, colourful and improved the overall quality of the pictures.

We were not very happy with them because that book was one of the first we worked on. We were still learning the ropes then.

More than 60 books later, and we have since honed our techniques and have better software which allows us to produce better pictures and that is what we did to The Gruffalo to improve the user’s experience.

We would like to give a special shout-out to Karen for letting people know about Access2books and spreading the word about our books.

The last bit of exciting news is that we have recently had two applications for funding approved.

This means that we are going to be able to circulate the books we produce in different counties and put the books directly in the hands of those who need them.

We will keep you updated about these developments as they unfold. Once again, thanks to Karen, the county libraries, book distributors, organisations, friends and followers who are doing their bit to spread the word about what we do.

Tomorrow, we will be in Liverpool courtesy of the wonderful Gwyneth McCormack from Positive Eye at a conference to discuss our work.

A medium shot of Eileen Finch from Access 2 books chatting to Gwyneth Macormack the Director of the Positive Eye chatting at the Visual Impairment Residential Study Weekend at the University of Birmingham

Eileen Finch team leader from Accesss2books sharing ideas with Gwyneth McCormack, the director of Positive Eye, at the Visual Impairment Residential Study Weekend at the University of Birmingham.

We will keep you updated about how things go.

Thanks again!

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