A charity brings reading to blind children

“Illustrated Books for Blind Children” relies on donations to support its publishing house for specialized books. Today, the Foundation has more than one thousand sponsors. Source: Elena Pochetova

“Illustrated Books for Blind Children” relies on donations to support its publishing house for specialized books. Today, the Foundation has more than one thousand sponsors. Source: Elena Pochetova

A Moscow-based charity provides books for blind and visually impaired children one school at a time.

Waking up after their afternoon nap, the children at School No. 20 quietly take their seats in the hall. Some wear eyeglasses, others have bandages on their eyes. A play prepared by their friends and classmates begins. But they are restless; it’s hard to concentrate because of their poor eyesight and tender age. As soon as the music starts playing all the children begin laughing and rushing to the stage. Just the right moment for Raisa Bisenek, head of the “Illustrated Books for Blind Children” foundation, to hand out books.

They receive lavishly illustrated, large-print books about Moscow and the Battle of Borodino. Each book is intended for children who are visually impaired: all the pictures are graphic and colorful.

These books are really needed here in Chekhov — and all over Russia. “Children with poor eyesight do not study at this school because, unfortunately, we cannot provide the right conditions for them,” Raisa Bisenek explained. She added that the institution has links with a medical center that, in many cases, guarantees full recovery of their eyesight over time. In the meantime, however, these children need the proper tools for learning or they may never catch up to their peers.

Bring reading to everyone

Source: Elena Pochetova

There are more than 35,000 children in Russia with visual impairments, but few of them study at institutions that have the right educational materials or address these problems. “Our foundation tries to spot children with eyesight problems but it is very difficult outside Moscow and the Moscow Region,” said Olga Sorokina, a representative of the charitable foundation. “Most of the time, we have to wait until parents or relatives come to us before we can send the books children need.”

The publishing house affiliated with the foundation releases 10,000 books a year. But that is not enough. “Our demand is three times greater than the supply,” Bisenek sighed. Even so, the charitable foundation has come a long way since it was founded in 1994.

“Illustrated Books for Blind Children” relies on donations to support its publishing house for specialized books. Today, the Foundation has more than one thousand sponsors. It recognizes that children who have visual challenges and their families need support from an early age, support that so far, the government and school systems have not been able to provide.

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