Media Release: Only five per cent of books estimated to be accessible to the blind

SAYS a report, ‘Written Off’, fewer than five in every hundred books are available in formats such as large print, braille, or audio tape that can be read by people with sight loss.

And most of the five per cent available are produced by charities, relying on public giving.

The report is published by RNIB Scotland on behalf of the Right to Read Alliance to mark the start of Right to Read Week. RNIB Scotland believes the book famine for people with sight problems is a scandal, a view shared by thousands of Scots who have already endorsed the Right to Read Charter by signing the petition.

The Lord Provost of Glasgow, Councillor Liz Cameron, who, as patron of the Right to Read campaign in Scotland launched the Charter last year, will join with Matthew Ward, a blind pupil from Darnley Primary School, Glasgow, to hand over the petition which will be received on behalf of First Minister, Jack McConnell, by Johann Lamont, deputy minister for communities on Monday 15 November.

The Right to Read Charter is a campaign statement calling on the Scottish Executive to set up an Access to Reading Fund to develop and expand the small network of charities which produce information in formats such as large-print, braille and audio.

“Imagine a world where you are excluded from reading books for pleasure or information or education,” says Gwenn McCreath, assistant director of RNIB Scotland. “But that world is a reality for more than 300,000 people in Scotland with sight problems, dyslexia or other reading related

The Lord Provost of Glasgow, councillor Liz Cameron, said: “I am delighted to be the patron of the Right to Read campaign in Scotland. I passionately believe that being able to read books is a right which we should all be able to enjoy, whether or not our sight is good enough to see print. I applaud the efforts of RNIB Scotland and the many others who support the Right to Read campaign. With good will and determination we can and must bring the joy of reading to all.”

The call is backed by Catherine Lockerbie, director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival and authors Janice Galloway, Zoe Strachan and A.L.Kennedy, whose most recent book, ‘Paradise’, is understood to have been the first book in Scotland to be launched simultaneously in print and audio formats.

RNIB Scotland will maintain the campaign’s momentum after this week’s activities by launching today (Monday) a group known as the ‘Right to Read Champions’, led by Karen Cunningham, head of libraries at Glasgow City Council. The Champions will include representatives of the Scottish Executive and local government, together with MSPs, authors, publishers, book-sellers and librarians.

There has also been a motion put down in the Scottish Parliament in support of the Right to Read campaign, in the name of Robert Brown MSP, Liberal Democrat from Glasgow. It has attracted widespread cross-party support and it is hoped that it will be debated over the next couple of weeks.

Members of the public can still sign the Right to Read Charter online at


Notes to editors and picture desks:

You are invited to be represented at the handing over of the Right to Read
Charter and photocall at 10.30 a.m. in the Conference Suite on
Floor 5 of the Mitchell Library, Glasgow. Enter by Kent Road door.

Blind and sighted Children from Darnley Primary School will be attending the event and enjoying a fun reading session staged by Glasgow Libraries.

We will also have a display lending visual impact to the 95 per cent/5 per cent ratio of books available to blind and partially sighted people.

Guests will include members of organisations for blind and partially sighted
people and representatives from the worlds of politics, library services,
education and literature.

The Charter is being backed by the Right to Read Alliance consisting of 14 organisations including RNIB Scotland, The Scottish National Federation for the Welfare of the Blind, local societies for the blind across Scotland, and the Scottish Braille Press. For more information on the Right to Read Campaign or activities planned call RNIB Scotland on 0131 311 8500 or visit

YOU too can post a media release on For more information, email here.

Contact: For further press information contact Mike Brown or Gordon Matheson in RNIB Scotland’s Press Office on 0131 311 8500 (Out of hours 077 666 86402 and 07803 207798)