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Birmingham City Council

Spotlight on resources in libraries for children with visual impairments

Spotlight on resources for children with visual impairment
Birmingham Libraries welcomes children with disabilities and special needs.

The Spotlight pack contains information about our services to children with visual impairment and their parents and carers. The pack is attached at the bottom of the page as a document which can be printed off. You can also get a copy from your local library.

You can find the same information on our Young Libraries wepages by following the links below:

Joining the library

Children can borrow 8 books, including story tapes free of charge and keep them for 4 weeks. There are no charges for late items borrowed on a child's ticket. In addition children under 5 and children with disabilities do not have to pay for damage. Join the library


All libraries hold activities for children such as storytimes, craft sessions, author visits or teenage reading groups. Find out what is on at your local library or at Centre for the Child in Birmingham city centre. Please let our staff know if there is anything they can do to make access easier and to ensure your child enjoys the event. What's On in Libraries

Homework Support Sessions

The sessions are free and specially trained staff will assist children to find, understand and use information which will help with their homework and projects. Staff can explain how to use the other resources such as computers, printers and photocopiers. Find out Find out about Homework Support Sessions near you

Access and Equipment

Examples of equipment libraries may have to help children with visual impairment are hand-held and fixed magnifiers and magnifying sheets, day-light reading lamps, computer keyboards with large letters, tracker balls, magnifying software and text reading software. The Centre for the Child, on the ground floor of Central Library has a CleaReader reading machine which will scan pages of text and read them aloud or through an earphone set. Also Clear View + which magnifies the page of a book onto a screen. It can be used in full colour or with black on white or white on black. More information on access and Equipment

Computers in the Library

Facilities include Internet, word processing, CD ROM games, and email. More about computers in the Library


Every baby is entitled to receive a Bookstart pack when they attend the 7-9 month development check at their local clinic. The pack consists of two board books for baby, a place mat, a book list, help for parents and a library joining form. There are special packs available for children with disabilities.
Booktouch This is an additional Bookstart pack for children 0-4 who have a visual impairment. There are 2 touchy/feely books inside and special information for parents. Ask your health visitor or local library.
Bookshine This is an additional Bookstart pack for children 0-4 who are Deaf or hard of hearing. There are two books - one a touchy/feely book and one a baby signing picture book. The nursery rhyme placemat also has simple signing on it. Bookshine also has advice for parents on how to share books with deaf and hard of hearing children. Ask your health visitor or local library. A further Bookstart pack is available for children aged 3-4 years.

Family Information Service

Located within the Centre for the Child on the ground floor of the Central Library, this is a free public service for parents, carers and childcare workers including an extensive loan and reference collection of books, internet access, magazines and journals. Plus advice about childcare services in Birmingham including up-to-date lists of childminders, private and voluntary day nurseries, Education Department provision, pre schools (playgroups), parent and toddler groups, out of school playcare clubs and holiday care in any area of Birmingham. A range of factsheets are available including one on support for children with visual impairment. More about the Family Information Service

Music Collections

Collections of music CDs are based at Central Library, Acocks Green, Erdington, Mere Green, Sutton Coldfield and Weoley Castle Community Libraries. CDs can be borrowed from any library using the free reservation system and can also be reserved through the online catalogue. Central Music Library has videos and DVDs covering all types of music plus a Young Musician collection. 8 CDs may be borrowed on each library card for up to two weeks. There is a charge for this but people with a visual impairment can borrow 2 at a time for free.

Clear Vision

Centre for the Child (on the ground floor of Central Library) and Sutton Coldfield Children's Library have collections of Clear Vision books. These are tactile books in dual format Braille/print for adults and children to share reading. The titles are suitable for children up to the age of 8.


The National Library for the Blind stocks over 40,000 Braille titles and more than 3,000 Moon titles and also books in giant print and audio. This includes titles for children over 8 at Grade 2 Braille. The service is free to people who are registered blind and can be accessed through Library Services at Home. Tel: 0121 464 1118.

Translation Service

Information produced by Birmingham Library Service, including the Spotlight pack can be supplied in accessible formats, such as large print, Braille, audiotape, and community languages. Tel: 0121 303 4647.

Large Print Books

Community Libraries and Centre for the Child have a range of storybooks in Large Print suitable for a variety of ages. They can be reserved free of charge using the online catalogue.

Talking Books and Book Tape/CD Packages

Community Libraries and Centre for the Child have a wide range of titles for loan. They are free for children. Audio Talking Books are stories, songs or rhymes on cassette tapes or CDs. Some are whole books read by actors. These are good for children who find reading hard because they can enjoy the same stories as their friends. Book Tape Packs are a story tape and book that can be borrowed together. Children can read the book and listen to the story at the same time. Libraries also have CDs to help with homework. Whether you would like to listen to Harry Potter or Shakespeare, they are in Birmingham Libraries.

Large Format Books

These are extremely large copies of popular children's picture books. The books can be as large as 45cm by 37cm with print sizes as high as 1.5cm in some cases and down to 0.5cm in others. All Birmingham Libraries have collections of large format books for loan.

Tactile, noisy and smelly books

Birmingham Libraries offer a wide selection of tactile books designed to stimulate and engage young children. As the child explores a tactile book, a variety of different textures and even smells are used to demonstrate words and meaning.

Books about children with visual impairment

Birmingham Libraries stocks a wide range of books which include positive images of children with visual impairment. This includes picture books, story books for older children and non-fiction.
Children and Young People with Special Needs
Accessible Library Services for People with a Visual Impairment
Spotlight: Library resources for deaf and hard of hearing children

Spotlight on resources in libraries for children with Visual Impairments

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