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How to access tactile and braille books for children

Braille and tactile books are an excellent way to engage disabled or visually impaired children, offering them a different way to explore a story or read with someone else. Whether in a school, early years centre, library, community centre or at home, this article will take you through some organisations and resources you can use to source books or other reading materials.

At the end of this article, we have a competition where you can win a bundle of braille books courtesy of partners at RNIB.

Please note, this competition has now closed. We will contact the winner of the selected braille books by email by 1 March 2024. If you not have heard from us by this date, your entry has not been selected.

RNIB Bookshare

The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB)(this link will open in a new window) runs a service called RNIB Bookshare(this link will open in a new window) which supports those who are unable to access print by providing a vast collection of accessible textbooks and materials to support the UK curriculum from early years to adult education.

This free service, which can be accessed by teachers, students and parents has a range of accessible formats so books can be read electronically or adapted to suit personal reading needs. Through organisational accounts, learners can also be allocated an account, allowing them to search, download and request the books they need.

RNIB Bookshare partners with over 1,100 publishers, many of whom have a direct feed where they can upload new and existing backlist materials directly onto the system, meaning readers are able to access what they need without any delay.

You can join via the RNIB Bookshare website(this link will open in a new window) for free if you're:

RNIB library

The RNIB braille library service is a free service that serves blind and partially sighted children and adults personally, rather than through an organisation. Physical braille books are printed on demand and delivered straight to your house.

There is also a growing collection of electronic braille library books – available on memory card and available to download directly from your RNIB account online. To join the RNIB library, please call the RNIB helpline on 0303 123 9999. 

RNIB online shop

The RNIB online shop has braille books and resources that you can order online via the RNIB online shop(this link will open in a new window).

ClearVision Project

ClearVision, a postal lending library, offers a diverse collection of over 14,000 children's books designed for both visually impaired and sighted babies and children. 

Each book features braille, print, and pictures, allowing children and adults with different visual abilities to read together. The collection includes fiction and non-fiction, spanning uncontracted and contracted braille as well as Moon.

Additionally, ClearVision boasts the UK's exclusive loan collection of fully textured tactile books, providing a unique touch exploration experience for young readers. Residents of the UK or Ireland seeking children's books with braille and print text can join for free, while organizations pay a subsidized annual fee of £60. For more information on how to join, visit Clear Vision Project’s website(this link will open in a new window) or call 020 8789 9575.

Living Paintings

Dive into the vibrant world of Living Paintings' free postal library, where you can borrow Touch to See books that have been specially designed to bring stories to life for blind and partially sighted people.

Using a combination of tactile images and audio descriptions, they offer another way to engage with books and stories. Some also include guidance notes, activity packs, and colourful photo booklets. The children's picture books retain the charm of the original publication, bound with braille on clear plastic sheets and adorned with raised tactile pictures.

From preschoolers to adults, there's something for everyone. Living Paintings extend the lending services to organizations, individuals, and groups alike. Join the library at Join Living Paintings(this link will open in a new window) or call at 01635 299 771.