Vision Ireland, the Irish Children Bereavement Network and St Francis Hospice team up on new Braille resources for bereaved children

Teams from Vision Ireland, ICBN and St Francis Hospice are gathered together and are standing either side of a long table. They are standing in front of signs promoting each organisation and Bereaved Children's Awareness Week. Some team members are holding versions of the books which have been made accessible.

Monday, 13th November 2023 – Vision Ireland, which is the new name for NCBI, in collaboration with St Francis Hospice and the Irish Childhood Bereavement Network (ICBN) have made available six new Braille and audio resources for children who are dealing with the loss of a loved one.

The launch of the accessible versions of the books coincides with the ICBN’s Bereaved Children’s Awareness Campaign which aims to highlight the fact that ‘children grieve too’ and they need the adults in their lives to help them with the ‘big feeling’ that grief brings.

The original versions of the books, “Finding your way through grief: For teenagers and young adults” and “Always in My Heart: A book for children about grieving”, were developed by the social work team of St Francis Hospice in collaboration with some of the young people attending the hospice for bereavement support, and their parents. Following work with the Vision Ireland Library and Vision Ireland Counselling, Wellbeing and Emotional Support services, these vital resources are now available for children and families of children who are blind or vision impaired who may need to access them following the loss of a loved one.

In addition, Vision Ireland has converted three picture books, Badger’s Parting Gifts, The Heart and the Bottle and The Invisible String into Braille and audio formats, as well as ICBN’s guidance leaflet for parents.

Peter O’Toole, Head of the Counselling, Wellbeing and Emotional Support Service for Vision Ireland, said: “Through my work in the past with organisations such as ICBN and Rainbows for all Children, I’ve long been aware of numerous invaluable resources being available to guide children and their parents/carers through such difficult times. Given Vision Ireland’s mission to provide support to all those living with sight loss, we felt this was a significant opportunity to diversify on the avenues of assistance we could signpost to. This project has been a very positive example of combining expertise and skills over a range of our own services, together with showcasing the benefits of working in collaboration with other Irish organisations for the benefit of all children and their families.”

Lina Kouzi, Head of the Vision Ireland Library Access Service, added: “Our collaboration to produce a suite of accessible publications in Braille and audio has enabled the Vision Ireland Library Access Service to provide a vital resource of accessible reading material for children of all ages experiencing a bereavement. This accessible collection will enable children with a print disability experiencing bereavement overcome print barriers that impede their reading independence.”

Niamh Finucane, Coordinator of Social Work and Bereavement Services in St Francis Hospice, said: “It is wonderful to have these books available now in Braille format and as audio books. This will increase their accessibility for more members of our community who are experiencing a bereavement. We thank NCBI for recognising the importance of resources such as these and for initiating the project.”

Maura Keating from the The Irish Childhood Bereavement Network, concluded: We are delighted to collaborate with Vision Ireland to bring forward some accessible resources to support families experiencing bereavement and loss. As adults we often are unsure of the words to use and how to have these difficult and emotional conversations. Vision Ireland and ICBN recognised the need to ensure that supportive and empowering information is accessible for all families, and we are delighted to expand our resource options within the IHF Library and on the ICBN website”

Anyone who wishes to avail of the accessible Braille and audio versions of both resources can do so through [email protected]. The original versions of the books are also available at the St Francis Hospice online shop.