Adapting the Reading Challenge at The Royal Blind School

Royal Blind School Treasure Hunt

The Royal Blind School in Edinburgh provides education, care and support to pupils with visual impairment, including those who have additional support needs and complex multiple disabilities. Karen Osterloh, School Librarian, shares how the school took on the Reading Challenge last year and adapted the resources to suit the varying needs of the pupils.

Starting our reading journey

It is really important for children and young people with visual impairment to read (in large print or braille) so that they can learn autonomously along with their sighted peers. We worked with a group of 28 young people, aged 6-18, and used the Reading Challenge and Inspiring Classrooms funding to promote reading for pleasure and general literacy within the school.

We launched the Reading Challenge at a whole school assembly in November 2017. We explained that the Challenge would be a competition between the classes to see which class could read the most books by June 2018. The prize for this would be a large box of chocolates, as well as books or a sensory story chosen by the winning class.

Adapting the Resources for our pupils

Reading Passports

Each pupil received a Reading Passport in braille or large print according to individual requirements.  

New braille books

We asked pupils what books they wanted in braille and bought as many as possible. Many pupils requested short stories, as books translated into braille can be quite daunting. For example, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is fiveLibrary display A4 size volumes!

Adapted Library Display

I created a promotional display outside the library using the posters and resources from the Reading Challenge website. I added large print text and braille to make the information accessible to our pupils. 

Throughout the year we kept the Challenge alive by talking about it in special assemblies - on World Book Day for example. Pupils were rewarded with a Personal Reading Certificate whenever they finished a book. We also set up book groups in the Library and made use of the Reading Treasure Hunt and the Book Personality Quiz resources.

Readign Treasure HuntAdapting the Reading Treasure Hunt 

Our library didn't have all the books included in the Reading Treasure Hunt, so we adapted it and made up our own riddles to fit the books we did have - not easy!

We made the book cover clues in braille then stuck the clues all around the school. The pupils had to trail around the corridors to find and read the braille riddles and collect a large print or braille letter from each clue to solve the quiz.  

Inspiring Classrooms Event

When we were awarded the Inspiring Classrooms grant we decided to arrange an author visit for our Friends and Family Day in June 2018. The author we chose was Linda Strachan. 

Around the time of the event we made a Linda Strachan book display in our library and put up braille and large print posters outside the Library. Our English teacher also read from Linda Strachan's books in class. 

Where we are now

We have used the Inspiring Classrooms grant to buy much needed books for our pupils in print and in UEB contracted braille. Much of our current stock is in the old SEB braille format, so this has been really important and encouraging for our braille readers. We also plan to use some of the grant to buy items for our sensory story collection. Props are used to bring stories to life and are especially important for pupils with a visual impairment who need the experience of real world objects to promote learning.

We are now looking forward to starting the Reading Challenge again next year! 

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