29 August 2018
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Today Penguin Random House UK has launched a new partnership with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) by signing up to two of the charity’s programmes - RNIB Bookshare and Talking Books.

RNIB is the UK’s leading charity supporting blind and partially sighted people.

RNIB Bookshare provides free access to books for print-disabled learners, including those with dyslexia or who are blind or partially sighted. This means that over 25,000 Penguin Random House titles - together with new releases - will be instantly available to RNIB Bookshare members for free from today. New titles will be available on publication day.

RNIB Bookshare is largely used by learners at schools and universities to access content linked to the curriculum or to their studies.

Talking Books is a library with over 40,000 RNIB registered users and is free to use. It provides specially adapted audio versions of books via both digital download and CD. All Penguin Random House audio books will soon be available for the RNIB to adapt and make available free of charge.

The partnership will support our efforts to make our books more inclusive and accessible as part of our Creative Responsibility strategy. Other actions we’ve taken include:

  • Ensuring all newly published e-books meet high standards of accessibility, including introducing measures like fully searchable and resizable text, captioned media and including clear navigation;
  • Giving free access to all our books to be reproduced by RNIB in giant print and braille formats.
Boy using app to listen

David Clarke, Director of Services at RNIB, said: "We’re absolutely delighted to be partnering with Penguin Random House and can’t wait to share all of their titles both with our learners through Bookshare and library readers through Talking Books."

"It’s the first time a publisher has simultaneously shared all of their content with RNIB readers for both education and leisure. At RNIB we are committed to making published content available in accessible formats on publication day to provide learning and employment opportunities as well as ensure people with sight loss are included in the buzz around new releases. We need the support of publishers like Penguin Random House to make this a reality, so we’re delighted to be working together.”

RNIB Case Study: How RNIB Bookshare is used in practice

Priestley Smith School is a specialist school in Birmingham for pupils age 2-19 with severe sight loss.

Mary-Ellen is one of the English teachers at Priestley Smith School. Before using RNIB Bookshare, in a class of eight children she had to provide resources in eight different reading formats to cater for her students’ various sight conditions. This made it very difficult to choose a book title that they could all read.

Mary-Ellen is now using RNIB Bookshare in her classes. She can download a title all of her class can use. Her learners have their own accounts and can all read a choice of books together, in the format that meets their needs. They can also read in their own time, choosing their own books.

She said: "I could immediately download a text that day and I nearly danced! It was just really good to be able to do that. I really liked the ease of it. If you are not interested or excited, you are not really going to want to read. Once you give that choice to a child, they are going to be a lot more interested, and their growth in being able to recognise words, to learn vocabulary, it happens when they don’t even realise it when they are lost in a book."

For more information on the RNIB Bookshare service contact bookshare@rnib.org.uk or visit the website. 

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