On the 200th anniversary of the birth of Braille's inventor, bestselling crime writer Ian Rankin has launched a campaign calling on writers, publishers and booksellers to make more books available to the visually impaired.
Rankin is also backing an appeal to raise £2m to rehouse the UK's leading Braille printing press, the Scottish Braille Press, which is struggling to meet demand with its current premises.
Just 4% of books published in the UK currently make it into Braille, large print or audio formats, according to the Royal National Institute of Blind People, and Rankin - whose son attends the Royal Blind School in Edinburgh - hopes the campaign, which he is launching on behalf of charity Royal Blind, will unite the books world in improving access to fiction and non-fiction for the visually impaired.
Rankin, creator of hardboiled Edinburgh detective Rebus, said that Braille was a hugely important "gateway to education and inspiration". He added that "I support anything that can be done to improve access to reading in all formats from Braille to large print."
The Royal Blind appeal, launched to mark the bicentenary of the birth of Braille's inventor Louis Braille on 4 January, also saw a Braille passage from Rankin's bestselling novel Fleshmarket Close pinned to the walls of the real street in the centre of Edinburgh today, and the publication of a Braille version of his book Death Is Not the End.
Photo : Ian Rankin receives CWA Diamond Dagger Award in 2005 [Photo (c) 2005 Ali Karim]