Case study: Working with blind/partially sighted children

Teachers make up kits to use with visually impaired children
Teachers make up kits to use with visually impaired children

Selda San Ridley in Manchester explains how she strengthened links with visually impaired groups.

Establishing regular visits

Since 2009 we have strengthened links with the visually impaired group in Manchester (called Parent, Carer and Tots for Visually Impaired Children, or PCTVIC), most essentially by establishing regular visits from the Bookstart Coordinator.

‘The links we've established are hugely beneficial to our families. While we have some parents who are very keen on storytelling right from the start, for many of the parents of visually impaired children reading books to their children has not been foremost in their minds.
Clare Crawford, Qualified teacher of the visually impaired

What are the aims of visiting the visually impaired group?

We now visit the PCTVIC group at their monthly meetings. The aims of the visits are to:  


  • Meet the families and build a relationship  
  • Talk to the families about reading to their children  
  • Gift them their Booktouch packs
  • Read simple and suitable stories and sing rhymes together
  • Provide information on the library services and register those who wish to join
  • Learn from the sensory support services team and build a relationship with the team members.


What have been the benefits of these visits?

These families now know their Bookstart Coordinator and the support that they can offer. Every session children and their parents and carers are engaging more with reading and singing, and we are making use of different tactile materials to enhance the experience.    

The Bookstart packs have got parents talking to us about tactile books, the importance of rhyme from an early age and how their children will progress with reading in the future.

Story sacks and adapting the Bookstart books

The sensory support services team work on adapting the Bookstart books for families and making story sacks for individual children. 

We have begun making some story sacks with picture books. Parents have been very interested in how we adapt books and again this has generated more conversations around reading.’
Clare Crawford, Qualified teacher of the visually impaired

Families choose a book from the Bookstart packs which we then explore with each child to make a story sack. We provide families with a simple help sheet explaining how to use each prop for each page while they are reading the book and sharing the experience with their child.    

We provide the sensory support services team with sample Bookstart books so they have advance notice of which books are likely to be chosen by families.  

Spreading the word: training library staff

Members of the sensory support services team have recently provided visual impairment awareness training to library workers. This helps them provide an accessible service to all families when gifting the Bookstart packs and when leading the story and Rhymetime sessions.