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Blind Bookworms: Part One

Blind Bookworms : Part One – Genesis of the Idea

Posted by Ellie Wait for The Story of Books


I was once told that listening to audiobooks isn’t ‘real reading’, as if by absorbing information in a non-visual way made me less entitled to an opinion about books. As an audible junkie this angered me. I would consider myself to be reasonably well read but being visually impaired means that I have a reliance on audiobooks. Large print/Braille books can be heavy and cumbersome, and although I can read standard print my eyes become pained and fatigued so easily.

I also find that on occasions the writing itself can be a barrier between myself and the escapism that fiction offers. I’ve been registered blind since birth meaning that if an author sets a scene with only visual descriptions, I am less likely to feel immersed in the surroundings the writer is trying to depict.

I’ve spent most of my life complaining about these factors so for once I decided to shut my loud mouth and actually do something to address these issues. I wanted to engage visually impaired (VI)  young people into reading for pleasure and show how audiobooks are just as effective and immersive as standard print but above all, I wanted to encourage them to use their own imaginations to fill in the gaps which may have been left from visual descriptions. I hatched a plan!

Supported by Reading Hack and RNC Hereford, we will be creating a series of audio-bites written by visually impaired young people describing their favourite fictitious settings (Sherlock Holmes’ living room, the Gryffindor common room etc.) which will focus on every other sense apart from sight. Listening to these recordings will hopefully be immersive, accessible and engaging to prove that sight is not necessary to experience the escapism that reading for pleasure has to offer.

Blind Bookworms is a project from The Story of Books, led by Ellie Wait and Emma Balch. Follow this blog for updates on Blind Bookworms.


Ellie Wait with a Pinocchio puppet at Addyman Books in Hay-on-Wye
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