A Brailliant visit from Sue Reid Sexton!

Posted: 07/10/2014 | Education, ,

This year's National Braille Week got off to a flying start with support from two leading authors. Granta Best Young British Novelist Jenni Fagan launched the week during the Portobello Book Festival (more here), then we had a fantastic visit to our services from historical novelist Sue Reid Sexton.

Sue Reid Sexton reading to a class at the Royal Blind School

We were really pleased to welcome Sue Reid Sexton to Royal Blind as she is a bit of a trailblazer for accessible format books. The Braille version of Sue's latest novel Rue End Street was published at the same time as it was released in text.

First stop on her visit was the Scottish Braille Press, where Sue took part in a simultaneous reading in text and Braille from her novel Rue End Street.

Staff member and Braille transcriber Allan Balfour read from the Braille version of her book, while Sue read the same section in text. It was an amazing experience to hear the synchronised words being brought to life from the two very different formats. 

Alan and Sue reading at Scottish BRaille Press

Sue was then given a quick tour by Manager John Donaldson, and met staff members busy embossing everything from books and lifestyle magazines to business cards and bank statements.

After that, it was off to the Royal Blind School where Sue gave a reading in the library from her first book, Mavis's Shoe to a lively and engaged class of English and History students. As well as National Braille Week, the visit was part of an autumn literacy festival at the school, the 'Falling Words Festival'. The walls of the school were suitably adorned with colourful autumn leaves and poetry.

The pupils all had Braille or large print copies of the text which Sue was reading. The story is based on a child's experiences of the Clydebank blitz and she started by passing around a dented wartime helmet for the pupils to try on, and imagine how it must have felt as the bombs were dropping.

There were some brilliant, insightful questions from the class during and after the reading - on Sue's influences, about the war, and on the creative writing process.

Sue was an inspiring guest who encouraged all the pupils with an interest in writing to get their ideas down and have a go themselves. She offered to look at anyone's work, at whatever stage, if they sent it over to her.

The afternoon finished with a quick tour of the new facilities at Canaan Lane and a chance to meet more staff and pupils of the school along the way.

Sue is a great ambassador for accessible formats and we are delighted to have her backing for National Braille Week. All staff and pupils thoroughly enjoyed the visit and she will be warmly welcomed back! 

More on all events happening for National Braille Week at www.nationalbrailleweek.org