Martin Kemp presents our BBC Lifeline appeal
7th August 2018
Watch actor and musician Martin Kemp present our BBC Lifeline appeal. Hear from library members Sue, Ted and Tayen as they share their stories about visual impairment and the difference our Touch to See books and book clubs have had on their lives.
Chocolate cake or ice cream cake or cupcakes. My name is Tayen, im 6 years old and my eyes are broken. Tayen has neurofibromatosis, it’s caused her to have tumors on her optic nerves that spread right the way through her brain and she’s now fully blind. [inaudible] [inaudible]. We always had story times with Tayen when she was little and she really, really loved it. When she lost her vision it was very difficult to find anything that made her happy. But Living Paintings help to solve the problem for Tayen and other families like hers. It’s a charity that designs and publishes books for blind people, allowing them to hear and feel pictures. In 1995, I was diagnosed with two brain tumours which meant that I was in real danger of losing my sight. It was the one thing that scared me the most and fear that I carry with me even today.
When that first box came from Living Paintings, Tayen’s face lit up and it was the first time we’d seen her smile in weeks and it just brought so much joy instantly to her life and ours. When I get books, I feel happy. Living paintings has helped us in a variety of ways. It’s not just having the books here, they’ve given us back family time, they’ve given us bonding time between Tayen and her brother’s making memories and it’s just beautiful to watch them.
These books are made at the charities headquarters.
We create what we call Touch to See books. So they’re books which have raised images in them that fingers can explore and feel. We take a standard published book, so like, if you can imagine one of the Elma stories and we add our feely pictures which are the raised images, which are painted and brightly coloured for children who are partially sighted. We add also the braille sheets but in clear plastic so that everybody can see the picture so it’s a shared experience, which is really important to us. And then really importantly, they have an audio description. So the audio guides the fingers around and navigates and describes the picture that we’re looking at.
Follow this down to discover a space rocket
I like reading with my brothers. Tayen likes reading the books with me and her brothers. Sometimes she likes her dad to read them and sometimes she just takes the disk off by herself and um listens to it.
Living Paintings send these audio tactile books across the country, through their postal library, which is free to anyone in the UK who is blind or partially sighted. They lend to people at home, to schools and to others, caring for, or working with those with sight loss. There are no membership fees and members can choose books via an online library over the phone or in person. But in order for them to continue producing and lending these books, we need your donations. Library Membership can begin at preschool age and continue on into adulthood. Living paintings helps at all stages of life. Nine-year-old Ted was just two when he was diagnosed with a syndrome that causes blindness
Stickler syndrome is a condition which means um that the collagen in your body isn’t produced as well. So, the collagen is what holds your retina on and that means that I can’t see anything apart from light and dark.
But Ted has really benefited from the work of living paintings.
I think without Living Paintings some of the concepts that Ted wants to learn would be very difficult. I mean, imagine trying to explain space to someone who has no vision at all. I didn’t know what asteroids were until I read the Living Paintings and then it just really opened my eyes to that they were big lumps of rocks that travel through space.
The raised pictures are hugely important to enable children to actually understand the world around them, by touching pictures of things that they aren’t able to see or feel in real life. They offer books on everything from the Romans to science experiments, which tie in with the national curriculum.
I like doing experiments with my dad because he he’s very interested in science and he knows what he’s doing and we have a lot of fun doing them.
Giving just 10 pounds will ensure that blind children like Ted or Tayen will receive all the exciting Touch to See books they want over the holidays and into new school term. And it’s not just children that benefit from these books.
My name’s Sue. It’s about 20 years ago I worked in an operating theater and I noticed I was bumping into things and that’s where it started, but I didn’t actually lose my sight until 12 years ago. And it was a total shock. I found myself alone, couldn’t see, didn’t know how to cope with it.
Sue was told about a book club that is run by Living Paintings where the Touch to See books are used as an inspiration for creating art.
The Living Paintings because they’re tactile, I can feel the picture. So I’m seeing the picture through touch and feel and I can reproduce it then, which I could not have done before. When I touch the sunflowers from the paintings, it brings back actually quite vivid memories because I loved sunflowers and my mum, she painted sunflowers for me. By feeling these paintings again, it just brings all those memories flooding back. When I was younger I went to art college, when I lost my sight I couldn’t do it anymore. Coming to these groups, found a new way of joining in with the art again.
But the book clubs provide so much more than just art.
If I didn’t have this group to come to because I live alone or don’t have any family or loved ones still living, I would be very lonely, very isolated
And 20 pounds can help people like Sue experience a living paintings book club for the next six months. With your generosity, we can create more chances for blind and partially sighted people to come together, to give them confidence and help end their loneliness.
Having the group to come to, I can come, I can socialise with like minded people who are in similar situations.
When you donate to Living Paintings, you’re not just giving a book, you’re giving someone an education, a social life, a way to visualise the world, but the charity is funded entirely by voluntary donations. So we need your support to continue to help people to really be part of our sighted world. To make a donation, please go to the website, www.livingpaintings.org/donation-now. If you want to donate by phone, then call 016 35299771. Or if you’d like to post a donation, please make your check payable to Living Paintings and send it to Living Paintings, Unit eight Kingsclere Park, Kingsclere, Newbury, Berkshire, RG20 4SW. And if you want the charity to claim gift aid on your donation, please include an email or postal address so they can send you a gift. A thank you.