Vision and Print Impaired People’s Award 2023: Shortlist

Julie Duffy - Vision Impairment Services Officer, Portsmouth City Council

Julie is nominated for the innovative work she has undertaken in Portsmouth Libraries for over 20 years, making them more accessible to people who are blind or vision impaired.

Julie is Portsmouth Library Service's Vision Impairment Services Officer. She also happens to be blind. For over 20 years she has been using technology to support disabled adult learners in Portsmouth's libraries and has developed a comprehensive range of services for visually impaired adults, both long term and newly diagnosed.  In addition to the digital support, two information and support groups meeting every week meeting at Central and Southsea Libraries. Often guest speakers come in to inform attendees on new technologies that are available to improve their quality of life.  The group is often consulted by the local authority and external agencies when they need to take the needs of visually impaired adults into account in the planning and delivery of services.

Julie has also worked with the wider Portsmouth community, providing disability awareness sessions for children and young people in schools and has worked on an intergenerational project where local secondary school pupils helped older blind and vision impaired adults download audiobooks, newspapers and magazine articles to an accessible MP3 player.


Muhammad Haque - Frontline Plus Officer Digital, Barking and Dagenham

Muhammad is nominated for developing the 'Inclusive Digital Zones' project.

The 'Inclusive Digital Zones' project aims to provide accessible digital technology for all residents at the Barking Learning Centre and Dagenham Library. The objectives are to remove the barriers to digital technology by means of location, hardware and software and to support people with cognitive, sensory, and physical disabilities.

Muhammed has led investment in larger-than-average screens for all the computer stations, adjustable desks and keyboards to help with sight loss. These have larger buttons. There are also high contrast keyboards and a braille keyboard.


Northwood Library Team (Robert Sisk, Agata Kowolski, Wendy Gorse, Julie Langston, Sharon Carroll, Raj Sharma) - Hillingdon Libraries

The Northwood Library Team is nominated for its exceptional work with people in the community who are blind and partially sighted, especially with Sunshine House, n education setting for children with vision impairments aged three to fourteen.

Very often these children will have multiple disabilities, so the library staff have always made sure to arrange visits with Sunshine hHouse directly and make sure that they can cater for all the children coming according to their needs.

This partnership has resulted in the library staff upskilling and learning about more accessible forms of storytelling. it is an incredibly fulfilling part of the job. Sunshine House are able to arrange more school outings to the library setting and the students benefit from learning about new environments, seeing new books and partaking in new activities and learning new skills.


Emma-Louise Honeycombe, Library assistant & Kim Wakefield, Library Assistant, Tring Library

Emma-Louise and Kim are nominated for leading Tring Library's Visual Impairment Reading group since October 2021.

During the meetings, Emma-Louise and Kim will engage with the Visual Impairment Reading group by asking how they have been and what they have been up to. They will also ask how the group found the last audiobook.

These hour-and-a-half meetings have a huge impact on lives. It is not just a reading group for them, it is also very important social group for those people who can be lonely and isolated from our society. The members of the group really appreciate Emma-Louise and Kim, whose dedication, support, and kindness have gone beyond for this special group.


Rosie Veitch - Library Development Officer, Cambridgeshire Libraries

Rosie is nominated for her work in organising HiVIS, a yearly travelling showcase that invites anyone with a visual impairment to come to the library and visit stalls from RNIB, Deafblind UK, Macular Society, Optelec, Calibre and many more.

While the pandemic put events on hold, Rosie worked with zeal and vigour to restore programming for 2022. Rosie devised and delivered a webinar for rary staff to champion HiVIS 2022, sharing ideas, resources and ending with a call to action. Rosie personally oversaw the return of our showcase event in June 2022, with nine partners in attendance. Many customers fed back how much they appreciated and enjoyed the event.

In partnership with Huntingdonshire Society for the Blind, Rosie also established and runs Peeky Blinders, a reading group for visually impaired readers, which meets monthly at Huntingdon Library. The group select an audiobook title and download to their devices using the library’s WiFi (with Rosie’s assistance as required). Rosie then leads discussion on the previous month’s choice.