Image of a book cover showing a white cat sitting in a box. Only the head and the tail are visible. The box has the text my cat likes to hide in boxes written on its side. Underneath the the box is green rectangle which reads Eve Sutton and Lynley Dodd. There is another blue rectangle below it with the words Giant Print and Braille written in white.

My Cat Likes To Hide in Boxes

Children's Books, Giant print and Braille, Picture Books, Publishing

Access2books are publishing the first giant print and Braille version of the classic children’s book My Cat Likes To Hide in Boxes written by Eve Sutton and illustrated by Lynley Dodd.

The book was published by Puffin Books – a part of the Penguin Group.

The accessible version of the book, published by Access2books in giant print [75 point] and Braille plus specially adapted pictures, is complete.

It will be ready to be ordered within the next week or two. Keep an eye on our Facebook and Twitter accounts for more information.

Alternatively, you can check our homepage and the online catalog.

My Cat Likes To Hide In Boxes is going to be one of the first releases for the autumn period.

All the pictures have been modified to make them more accessible to visually impaired people.

It is now waiting to be quality checked and a Braille check done to ensure there are no spelling or grammatical errors.

The book was first published in 1974. It is a popular book in New Zealand and it has also found a way into the hearts of people in Canada and the UK.

The author and illustrator are cousins who are both from New Zealand. However, Sutton was originally born in England and moved to New Zealand as an adult.

This book was their one and only collaboration. They subsequently went on to carve solo careers as successful writers.

The image below is an example of the inner pages of the accessible version of My Cat Likes To Hide In Boxes.

The texh which is 75 point print is covered by plenty of white space to make it accessible and easy to see. The pictures have a page dedicated to them.

The Braille of the text and picture descriptions appear in the footer of both pages. Therefore, the book can be enjoyed by many people.

Image of the inner pages of My Cat Likes to hide in Boxes. The text in the centre of the left hand page reads,

According to Dodd [New Zealand’s best known author and author of the Hairy Maclary series], My Cat Likes To Hide In Boxes is based on a true story.

It is the story of the Dodd’s family cat that used to love hiding in boxes, cupboards, supermarket bags and the likes.

The book is catchy. It uses poetic devices. It uses rhyming couplets and run on lines to describe cats from different countries. For example:

The cat from France

likes to sing and dance.

The rhyming couplets build up as the narrative develops and describes cats from another country. With each subsequent description, the recurring refrain, “But MY cat likes to hide in boxes” is repeated at the end of each.

For example:

The cat from France

likes to sing and dance.

The cat from Spain

Flew in an aeroplane.

But MY cat likes to hide in boxes

The sentences are very simple which makes them easy to recite and remember. The musicality of the rhyming couplets aid in making the story memorable.

It is in essence a fun rhyming story. This makes it a great read for children who are learning to read.

Who doesn’t like a story about cats doing exotic and strange things? This is a story that is great for sharing between children and elder family members.

It is no surprise it first won a prize in 1975. Its longevity illustrates its staying power and how it continues to be be influential through different generations.

Children will love to take part in this fun rhyming story which can be set to music because of its musicality.

Place your order for Access2books’ accessible version of My Cat Likes To Hide In Boxes and put a smile on someone’s face.

Picture of the front cover of Lost and Found written and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers. The picture shows a boy and a penguin on a small boat. The boy is wearing a striped top and hat, and holding a staff in his right hand and a suitcase in his left.

Access2books first audio-visual book promo

Book Promo

Access2books has just completed its first ever audio-visual promo. It is exciting times for us here and an opportunity to do something we have never done before.

However, we have been looking at taking this direction for quite a while. So now, it is done.

In the future, look out for slicker productions. Although we are happy with this promo, we are aware that it is very visual and not accessible to people who happen to be blind or have a sight impairment because there is no narration.

That means our promo is not accessible to a huge proportion of our friends, followers and others who happen to be blind or visually impaired.

We are limited because we don’t have the facilities to record narration. Probably, when we have some software better than Microsoft Live Movie Maker, we can add narration to our videos.

However, for a first attempt on very basic editing software, we are pleased with the results. Our apologies to those who can’t access this promo because of a lack of narration.

Check out our first audio-visual attempt and enjoy it. Share it with your family, friends, followers and so on and let them know about our books. Thanks in advance for your support.

We look forward to your feedback, negative or positive. If you know better software which is relatively cheap or free which can help us make better promos, please let us know.

Have a lovely day.

Picture of the red Coca-Cola cans standing in a row. They all have Braille written on the side

Coca-Cola Braille Cans: Inclusive design or Cheap Advertising Gimmick

Uncategorized

Everywhere I turned last week, that is in the virtual world, I was bombarded from all angles by articles or videos talking about or showcasing Coca-Cola’s usage of Braille on their cans and bottles. It was almost impossible to avoid the trending articles and beggared the question: is it inclusive design or a cheap advertising gimmick.

The Coca-Cola initiative generated talking points within the community of people who happen to be blind or visually impaired.

Picture of a man with grey hair standing in the foreground holding a red Coca-Cola can with Braille on its surface. He is running his fingers over the Braille characters. In the background is a blind woman standing in front of a red Coca-Cola dispensing machine with white Braille characters superimposed in its front face. There is a subtitle at the bottom of the picture which reads

A frame taken from the Coca-Cola ad with the gentleman in the foreground feeling the Braille characters on the can spelling out his name.

Coca-Cola video sparked conversation and dialogue

It initiated conversations and dialogue across social media. Blogs were written about it. This article is part and parcel of all that activity.

Without it, this article, other blog posts and discussions would probably not be happening with the same intensity.

That is not to say these conversations don’t happen regularly. That would be ingenious to insinuate that.

These conversations happen regularly. The Coca-Cola initiative, if I may call it that, made this particular topic trend on social media.

The Coca-Cola adverts popped up in numerous groups I frequent and filtered into my Facebook feed. The excitement from within the the communities I interact with was palpable. It was infectious.

Addressing access issues

I can appreciate their excitement. A fundamental need was addressed, in the short term. That is the question of access. We all face it at one point in time or in different guises.

Picture of a man in a gray suit standing in front of red Coca-Cola dispensing machine with white Braille charcters on its ront and side. He is holding a Coca-cola can in his left hand.

Another frame from the same advert. The man feels the Braille characters on the can of Coca-Cola.

It may not have been Coca-Cola’s primary goal to address the question of access. However, whether or not it was, they touched on it.

Did it really address the question of inclusivity and access? That is another, or “the”, question.

Share a Coke Campaign

Coca-Cola’s ‘Share a Coke’ campaign was launched in 2011. It was initiated across 80 countries worldwide.

However, this phase fizzled out but it was recently reignited when Coca-Cola realised it had missed out a section of the population. 

They personalised their cans using Braille, enabling people who happen to be blind to read their names on the cans.

Closeup picture of a woman reading Braille on Coca Cola can with her fingers. The subtitle on the screen reads Julia.

The screenshots above and below are from the video. The woman and boy run their fingers over the embossed Braille on the cans to read their names for the very first time.

Picture of a boy sitting by a piano. He is holding a can of Coca-Cola and running his fingers over the embossed Braille on the can to read his name. The subtitle on the screen reads Jose Alfredo.II

Coca-Cola collaborated with a Mexican ad agency, Anonimo, to create special editions of their cans for people who couldn’t see their names printed on the cans. Hence, the need for Braille.

They changed the names on the cans and shared the new versions with a not-for-profit, Fundacion ProCiegos: they assist adults who happen to be blind or visually impaired to find their way into the workforce.

Picture of a cinema complex. In the centre of the forecourt are four red Coca-Cola vending machines embossed with white Braille characters. A group of men and women are descending on them to purchase their cans of Coca-Cola with Braille embossed on their sides.

The Braille cans with Spanish names were presented at the Comité Internacional ProCiegos I.A.P. in Mexico City.

They used a vending machine with Braille characters to dispense personalised cans to the users of the centre, providing hundreds of students with the opportunity to read their name on a can of Coca-Cola.

Coca-Cola Video and reactions

The reactions from the video, as you can see below, are touching and overwhelming.

More can be done, however, not only by Coca-Cola but by more companies to make their products more accessible to users who happen to be blind or visually impaired.

Considering the profits multinationals make annually, it wouldn’t cost them much to add Braille to their packaging to allow users who have problems reading small print to read labels by themselves so they know what they are buying, allowing them to make informed purchases.

Pharmaceuticals and Braille Packaging

It is not impossible. The pharmaceutical industry is miles ahead in this respect. By law, their packaging needs to have Braille on it as illustrated below on the pack of Paracetamol.

Picture of a blue and white box of Paracetamol with Braille and illsutration of two tablets on it's front face. It is branded Tesco in white in the left hand corner and Paracetamol in the middle of the package in a dark blue colour.

From the 30th of October 2010, all medicines now in the UK and EU display the name and the strength of the medicine embossed in Braille on the packaging or on a label affixed to the package. This is to comply with a European Directive passed in 2004.

The Royal National Institute of Blind People [RNIB] conducted a survey of about 165 adult Braille users around the UK with regards to the implementation of the European Directive passed in 2004 for Braille on pharmaceutical products. They reported that:

  1.  The Braille on packaging made a positive impact on users.
  2.  Over 95% of the participants used the Braille on the packaging.
  3.  Over 40% of Braille readers confirmed that the quality of the Braille on the product had improved than in two years.
  4. 4% believed it was worse.

The use of Braille on packaging helps people who can read it to locate products they need independently.

This addresses the question about access touched on above.

This initiative by Coca-Cola could extend beyond the realms of gimmickry and short term campaigns to create viral videos to improve their advertising or marketing campaigns or accrue social capital.

It could be a permanent fixture to their packaging: it will benefit users who happen to be blind or visually impaired.

It could be rolled out across the world empowering non-sighted users to locate their products independently.

Other companies providing Braille on their products 

It is possible. There are companies who are already providing Braille on their labels to cater for customers who can read Braille as illustrated in the pictures below.

Picture of two bottles of wine. One has a yellow label and seal and the other has a black label and seal. Next to them is a close up of the yellow label embossed with Black Braille characters.

There are already some products on the market that have Braille characters embossed on their labels to make them more accessible to consumers who happen to be print disabled. It empowers them to make informed decisions about the products they are purchasing without the need for a sighted person to read out what the contents of the products are.

Picture of a Wonderee chocolate in a dark brown like chocolate packaging with Braille. The top of the bag is folded and held together by a wooden clothes peg that has Braille on it. Also in the picture is finger running over the Braille characters on the packaging. Above the Braille characters is the word CHOCOLATE written in upper case.

As illustrated above, Braille in the packaging can extend beyond gimmickry and address the aesthetics of the packaging as well which also improves their visual appeal to sighted users as well. This illustrates innovative packaging and a company that cares for its consumers.

It’s great to include people and demonstrate it as Coca-Cola have. It is good to find a way to include access.

Coca-Cola and other companies are able to produce automatic Braille which illustrates that there are facilities to make it possible to produce products with Braille.

Irony about Coca-Cola’s inaccessible video

Considering Coca-Cola’s best intentions, their video is not accessible. Why? They did not make the visuals auditory yet the video is about a community without vision.

If you haven’t got any vision, then you need auditory access. The community of blind people in that Coca-Cola video cannot access it.

It seems like they and other people who are blind or visually impaired were not the intended audience for this video.

It is a disappointment if you consider the quality of what they are doing because the video is a good idea.

However, it looks like they were catering for the visual world; they did not include the sight impaired community, yet this video was about the non-visual community.

The video above is difficult to access for people with visual impairments but are not blind.

However, the intention by Coca-Cola is great; the video is not very accessible although it could be. It is inaccessible because they did not use people that can’t see to monitor what they were doing.  

Accessible books

Accessibility in books is central to the most popular children’s books we publish. It is a key issue in the design of our books. It is something we try to address in everything we do, including working with non-sighted users.

This is why our books are made in a dual format as illustrated in the interior pages of Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? below. 

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See Inside Pages

They include giant print [75] point which makes it accessible to a wide variety of groups and not only people who have visual impairments.

They have Braille to cater for readers who happen to be blind and are Braille readers or learning it. Other blind people or visually impaired readers use electronic devices to access books.

Accommodating macular conditions and sight impairments

The pictures in our books are adapted from the originals and made more accessible for people with macular conditions or other sight impairments which renders the normal pictures inaccessible.

Elvira using the magic wand in her hands to conjure up the magic that transforms an image and enhances it to make it more visible to someone who happens to be visually impaired and would have problems accessing the image in a normal book.

Elvira using the magic wand in her hands to conjure up the magic that transforms an image and enhances it to make it more visible to someone who happens to be visually impaired and would have problems accessing the image in a normal book.

People with dyslexia can access the books produced by Access2books. This includes disabled too.

About Access2book’s book design

People with general eye conditions can read large print or use Braille. The book design helps people who want to read but who have different sight impairments.

The books are also popular with children who find it difficult to read normal print. The giant characters and plenty of white space make the books easier to read.

Picture of a young girl at the Imagine Festival at the Southbank Centre is reading an accessible version of Norman the Slug With the Silly Shell which is published by Access2books. Her grandmother is looking over her shoulder and listening to her picking her way through the large characters surrounded by plenty of white space.

A young girl at the Imagine Festival at the Southbank Centre reads an accessible copy of Norman the Slug With the Silly Shell published by Access2books. Her grandmother is leaning over her shoulder and listening to her picking through the giant print on the page set out from the white space.

The book design makes it usable by as many people as possible. It is unlikely anyone would read anything bigger than 75 point print on paper. It is too difficult.

People with general eye conditions will either be able to read large print or use Braille. The book design helps people who want to read who have got sight impairments of different kinds.

Our books are designed to be as accessible to as many people as possible within the whole community.

People who have problems with their neck and eyes can read 75 point comfortably without moving their neck and eyes.

People who are learning disabled are supported by white space, good clear print; it can be 18 or 20 point but they can read 75, and pictures that support the text in some way. 

Access2books’ accessible formats contain as much of the easy read criteria as we can to include disabled people and other groups. The criteria is clear white space, clear printing, contrasting and clarity.

Picture of an inside page of the book The Very Hungry Caterpillar. The pgae is in 75 point print with Braille characters just above the footer. The text on the page reads,

The interior page of The Very Hungry Caterpillar featuring the text in 75 point print with Braille below and just above the footer. The formatting illustrates the easy read criteria: that is clear white space, clear printing, contrasting and clarity.

People with dyslexia also benefit from clarity, white space and they can use glasses to put colour over the picture. Dyslexia comes in many forms. But if you like a cream background, you use glasses to add that colour or whatever colour works for your condition.

People who are deaf or blind will be able to read with either their sight or Braille.

People with mental health issues can be confused and stressed by their environment and that includes their literature.

Our books are plain; that enables them to read text without loads going on: it doesn’t affect their stress levels and anxiety.

Picture of an interior page of the book Things I Like. In the picture is a smiling monkey dressed in a blue dungaree and green top and yellow shoes. His hands are folded behind his back as if he is hiding something. He is set against a white background. Below his feet are Braille characters: these characters are picture descriptions.

The interior page of the book Things I Like illustrating the enhanced picture of the monkey with Braille descriptions just above the footer and below his feet. The de-cluttered image against a white background makes it more accessible because of the clear white space, the contrast and clarity which adhere to the easy read criteria.

People with mental health issues are enabled by our format to share and read books.

Loads of communities benefit from our design. And the reason the Braille is there is simply because it caters for people who can’t read normal text and need it to access books.

Making products accessible

There are plenty of things Coca-Cola can and could do to make their products accessible which doesn’t only include Braille.

Using giant print to highlight one or two keywords on labels or packaging is another way to address issues surrounding accessibility. Voice activated vending machines is another. There are so many untapped opportunities.

Benefits of addressing access issues

If Coca-Cola used Braille on their products, like other companies already do, it would give them a lot of publicity. It would make them look like a good diverse community organisation. 

Their video is one of the best things they have done for their company. They have a reputation for creating great ads that work well. They are also memorable.

The impact of their viral video was really positive; they could have made it better by making it more inclusive by including the non-visual community.

They could have been seen as market leaders when it comes to inclusion if they asked the non-visual community and other disabled people to find out what would help them to identify their products and implement those changes. 

Missed opportunity

It is a missed opportunity. This missed opportunity might not cost them business. They will probably make loads of money from the back of this Braille initiative.

Personally, the initiative is a bit too gimmicky. It is about them creating great marketing and advertising material and probably social capital. It is clever advertising and nothing more.

Creating viral videos is the next big thing in putting products out there without making it too obvious that is what you are doing. 
Other companies that include Braille in their packaging don’t go about creating publicity hype. They simply do the right thing by being inclusive. 
Therefore, the Coca-Cola initiative is just another cheap advertising gimmick and not inclusive design.
Two women at the reception of the Visual Impairment Residential Study Weekend at the University of Birmingham

Update on the Visual Impairment Residential Study Weekend at the University of Birmingham

Education and Training, Visual Impairment

It was exciting to join the group attending the Visual Impairment Residential Study Weekend at the University of Birmingham last week. It involved the teachers of students with sight impairments up to the age of 18, I think.

First thing, I met Gwyneth, Director and teacher of visual impairment, displaying her lesson plan, games et al, from the Positive Eye Consultancy.

Eillen Finch team leader of Access2books chatting to Gwyneth McCormack from the Positive Eye at the Visual Impairment Residential Study Weekend at the University of Birmingham

Eileen Finch team leader from Access2books picking Gwyneth McCormack’s brains, the director of Positive Eye, at the Visual Impairment Residential Study Weekend at the University of Birmingham.

I had spoken with Gwyneth before when she supported me with the promotion of Access2booksShe is the most generous woman with her guidance, support and information. 

She is striking and authentic; no wonder why everyone has good things to say about her and her work in the UK and abroad.

As well as other countries, she has run courses in Iceland and Romania, and one of these courses involved bringing teachers, students and families together to learn tricks about applying make-up if you can’t see. 

So now, I look forward to learning easy ways to put on make-up. I haven’t done this for 30 years (I have no central vision).  Well, that should be funny!

You can learn more about what Gwyneth and her team at The Positive Eye are doing by following this link www.positiveeye.co.uk.  

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.

The weekend was full of interesting people; for example, teachers who taught up to 18 year old VI students science and maths. Below are the timetables for the weekend.

A snapshot of the timetable on Saturday  at the  Visually Impaired Residential Study Weekend at the University of Birmingham.

This is a snapshot of the timetable of the day and the modules we covered. I would recommend it for anyone involved in this sector.

As I could see up to the age of 30, I have no experience of science experiments with partial sight or none at all. It does make me and my VI friends smile often when we talk about trying to get certain things done. Chemistry and physics experiments are one of them.

A snapshot of the programme at the University of Birmingham during the Visual Impairment Residential Study Weekend

The programme on Sunday involved the Learning Through Touch modules.

The teachers gave us lots of feedback. Many already had stock of who we were or they were aware of our books. That is great! Isn’t it? 

We tend to feel like we are a little team working hard but not necessarily getting the ‘music through the speakers’. But we are, great work Joseph, Chris and me as we do most of the ‘talking’.

Our books are 75 point print, Tiresias font, double sided, grade 1 Braille and improved illustrations for access.

Here is the some of the feedback we received:

  • Provide single sided Braille: the teachers sight read so double sided Braille can cause problems.
  • Some want double line spaced Braille for early learning  
  • Some want 36 or 48 point print for various reasons: they don’t want young children to use any larger print size when Braille is a necessary skill
  • A few people ask for Comic Sans font so that the children read print which reflects how they write 
a picture of the interior pages of the book Brown Bear, Brown Bear. On the left hand side is text and the Braille transcription which reads, "Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see? I see a red bird looking at me. " On the right hand side of the page is a picture of the brown bear strolling and below the picture is a Braille description of the picture.

A shot of the interior pages of the classic picture book Brown Bear, Brown Bear written and illustrated by Eric Carle and Bill Martin, Jnr.

So as I can’t access blogging, please blog away Joseph, I look forward to hearing if you were interested out there in social network world.

Before I forget, Mike McLinden heads up the VI Study Degree Course at Birmingham University. I called him and he invited me to show the books to his students.

I was delighted when he asked me to come next September when he has his new in-take. I will show the books again, and meet with the students for a session – content to be planned. I am delighted!

I met Janet Harwood, from CVIS Cerebral Visual Impairment Society, what an exciting woman. Meeting Janet was a great education for me.

Eileen Finch and Janet Harwood from the CVI Society chat about their work at the Visual Impairment Residential Study Weekend at the University of Birmingham

Eileen Finch the team leader from Access2books gets comfy with Janet Harwood from the CVI Society [The Cerebral Visual Impairment Society] during registration at the Visual Impairment Residential Study Weekend at the University of Birmingham.

She works with other volunteers to grow this charity and educate us about people with CVI; for example, they may see 14 point print but need 36 to understand and process the information.

This seems to me to be a classic myth about disabled people. Cerebral palsy is one reason for CVI: it is often treated as a learning disability by the community at large.

Learning disability is also often assumed to be the condition of someone who can’t understand. So if someone with CVI can see something, but not understand it, they can be mistakenly regarded as if they are unable to understand, but in fact, they may only need a larger print.

I look forward to learning more from Janet, CVIS and their community. She was excited about our books and even more supportive when we discussed Access2books next series of diversity in children’s stories, potentially including, Three Mums, Two Dads, a Disabled sister and adopted children,

We have a children’s biography version of Nelson Mandela’s life that we are interested in making into an accessible book. It is produced by Kadir Nelson – and no, he is not related to Nelson Mandela. However, this book is still in the early stages of consideration. Hopefully, we will be granted permission to work on it as it is visually stunning as you can see by the front cover below. The illustrations inside are equally stunning.

The front cover of  the book on Nelson Mandela for children distributed by the Letterbox Library

Access2books hand-made books offer flexibility. This means our books will benefit people with CVI and many other conditions and situations.

Many classrooms want the books to be used for group reading ensuring everyone can join in.

Most adults with access to information needs can read 75 point print or Braille, so our standard format will continue to be available, and as adult large print readers are the majority of our users, I think, it will continue to be the most popular format for most of the population who need access.

Aliens Love Underpants inside pages

Interior pages of the book Aliens Love Underpants written by Claire Freedman illustrating the format of our books with text on the left hand side and images on the right. At the bottom of both pages is a Braille transcription of the text on the page and picture descriptions of the image on the right.

We can make many changes to our hand made books and plan an Early Learning Braille version of our books. Watch this space.

Thanks for reading and have a wonderful weekend. Feel free to comment and make any suggestions which you think might be helpful or worth considering with regards to what we do as book publishers or anything that we cover on this blog.