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Visually-Impaired Nottingham Law Student Praises Book Scheme

January 26, 2023

    A visually-impaired law student has said he used books from a sight loss charity to help him achieve top exam grades and a place at university.

    Charlie Beeston, 19, from Lincoln, has had optic nerve hypoplasia, nystagmus and ocular albinism from birth.

    During his studies, he made extensive use of the Bookshare service operated by sight loss charity, Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB).

    He is now studying law at the University of Nottingham.

    The service provides books, worksheets and resources free of charge to teachers, pupils and students, which can be downloaded in accessible formats including electronic braille, PDF and audio.

    ‘Flick of a switch’

    Mr Beeston, who is in his second year at the university, said: “It basically provides alternative formats of loads of books and when I was at school, it was very important to me.

    “I could sit and learn alongside other students, rather than going elsewhere to have something read to me.”

    Mr Beeston, who has severe sight impairment, achieved As in A-level psychology and history and a B in politics.

    He said it was hard to gauge if he would have got those grades without the service, as his school – The Priory Academy LSST in Lincoln – had been hugely supportive, but he said the books had simplified things.

    “It made everything available to me at the flick of a switch,” he said.

    During the Covid lockdown, he said he had also used Bookshare to help guide his sister, who has autism, through her own GCSE examinations.

    The service recently announced it had reached the millionth title in its collection.

    David Clarke, RNIB’s chief operating officer, added: “I am delighted that RNIB Bookshare has reached this incredible number of one million titles.

    “This means more children and young people are getting support with their learning and are able to do this alongside their sighted classmates.

    “I know from my own experience as a student how vital it is to have materials available in formats other than print.”

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