Thursday, 28 November 2013

Living Paintings

In May I wrote about resources that have been useful to us and I mentioned Living Paintings. Ethan and I have been helping review some of their books and topic packs before they are lent out to other borrowers, and they asked if I could write a guest blog. Here it is:

Ethan enjoying Super Transport Pack
I can’t remember when we discovered Living Paintings or who introduced us to them, but whoever it was I am very grateful! Ethan was born with retinas that hadn’t formed properly (caused by a genetic condition called Norrie’s disease that we had never heard of), the effect of this is that he has no sight in his left and limited sight in his right eye. Ethan was pretty much the first visually impaired person I knew, and as his parents we were very determined that he would not miss out on anything growing up. It has always been our goal that he never feels different in a negative way to the rest of the world, and until we were in the situation we had really taken for granted everyday things like being able to look at a book and enjoy all aspects of it. 

The first books that we borrowed from Living Paintings were picture books. Having the raised pictures and descriptions on the audio cds brought the stories to life for Ethan. As Ethan is a brailler he could choose to read the braille overlay in the books, or we could read the stories to him. We could look at the books together and enjoy them as a family. When Ethan became more fluent in braille, he could even read the stories to his younger brother!
Ethan loves facts; he asks endless questions about history, places, science, transport, languages and music amongst other things! Where we have really loved Living Paintings is with the factual topic packs that are produced. The topic packs come with raised images, coloured pictures, audio cds and a copy of the script. We have borrowed quite a few of these packs – Super Transport and the pack about space have been his favourites so far. All the packs are really well thought out and produced. They are interesting, have great sound tracks and the quality of the raised images are really good. The descriptions of the raised images are easy to follow and understand. They really bring the images to life and add a new dimension that ordinary audio cds don't have. 

Testing the space pack

What I really appreciate about the packs is that Ethan can enjoy them independently of me, I can get on with the things I need to be doing. I don't have to sit next to him explaining pictures or reading information to him. This benefits both of us, he is able to be independent in the same way his peers can and I am able to cook, help Jasper with his homework etc. Jasper enjoys the packs too as there are pictures that he can look at too as he and Ethan listen to the cds together.

Jasper also enjoying Super Transport
Ethan has started using a Braillenote this year (a very clever bit of kit) and we are able to download books for him to read in Braille, but it can't show pictures. Living Paintings gives Ethan the chance to access images and enjoy a whole variety of topics and stories.

We have found it difficult to find factual audio cds, so Living Paintings fills a massive gap for us. It enables Ethan to have his desire for knowledge filled without him needing to rely on me or his dad to read to him. 

So thank you every one at Living Paintings - I hope you all realise what a positive impact the work you do has on others!

From a very grateful mum x