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Cardiff man opens up a world of books for blind and partially sighted people

This National Volunteers Day (Thursday 5th December) a Cardiff man is urging people in South Wales to help blind and partially sighted people access the books they love.

Joseph Flatt, 38, from Ely, has been volunteering for RNIB’s Cardiff Transcription Service for over six years and hopes more people will join the volunteering team.

The chance to access books, magazines and letters in a variety of formats can be a lifeline for people in Wales living with eye conditions. However, only 10 per cent of all books published in the UK are available in accessible formats and many people cannot access the specialist texts they want to read.   

Not being able to access reading material in the right format can present significant barriers to leading an independent, fulfilling life. In extreme cases, it can lead to feelings of isolation and depression. 

That is why RNIB offers a free personal transcription service for blind and partially sighted people across the UK. Customers simply send their book of choice to the charity and choose the format that best suits them. Transcribed books are available in Braille, large and giant print, audio CD, Daisy CD or USB stick, and electronic text. The service provides up to 600 transcribed pages per year free of charge. 

Joseph spends two mornings a week at the RNIB Cardiff transcription centre, helping to correct and edit audiobook readings and sometimes recording the books himself.

Joseph said: “I decided to take on some voluntary work while looking for a job and I haven’t looked back. Volunteering for the transcription service has given me a sense of purpose and every day brings something new.

“I end up reading a lot of books that I never would have considered picking up and learn so many unexpected things every day as a result. It is also wonderful to meet so many new people and pick up exciting new skills like audio editing.

“I love feeling like I am doing something useful and helping to change the lives of blind and partially sighted people across the country. Reading is important to all of us and it must be so frustrating to not have access to the books that interest you. Hearing about how much the service means to the people that use it is so rewarding. I’d encourage anyone with a bit of spare time to give it a go.”

RNIB Cymru Transcription Manager Emma Jones said: “Being able to read is a fundamental right and RNIB’s personal transcription service gives people with sight loss the opportunity to read material of their choice.  

“We are committed to breaking down barriers for people with sight loss and are looking for dedicated new volunteers to help us achieve this goal. Volunteering with RNIB Cymru is a great way to help us change the lives of blind and partially sighted people across Wales and to develop personal and professional skills.” 

To find out more about volunteering for RNIB Cymru’s transcription services visit https://www.rnib.org.uk/wales-cymru-how-we-can-help/cardiff-transcription-centre or contact [email protected] or 029 2082 8540

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