It must have looked weird. A blind woman being led by her guide dog walking around the books shop, but it just had to be done.
As the guide dog whipped past the cookery books, travelled through the sci-fi section and ended up in the land of the fun-filled children’s books, the owner rewarded him with a treat. He had guided her to the place that she missed the most. From Willy Wonka to The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, books had always been fun companions during her childhood and had always left her wanting more. Along with millions of other children, she loved to escape into books of all types and feel like it was just the author and the reader that were in this alternative reality. Life lessons that trickled from the pages of each book, cleansed her mind from the negatives in the world and broadened her consciousness to what humanity was really about.
Even back then she could not really see the words clearly. There had always been a hazy double vision around words, but she had developed her own fun way of dealing with it. She learnt to read by a method of deduction. A five-lettered word that had a hazy straight line and a fuzzy small hump attached lower down was obviously a h and a slanted blur that extended lower than the other letters was obviously a y. With 2 similar looking 3rd and 4th letters that were seen in double vision, the letter could be nothing else but ‘happy’. As the years passed, she began to rely less on her eyes to see and more on her brain to decide what these words were in front of her. She read at a rapid pace and could not get enough of the author’s voice that came alive in the treasured books.
Time passed and reading books got more and more difficult. Even the ‘sniff it to see’ rule that she had always lived by, where she held the book close to her nose, no longer worker so a plan B was needed. Magnifier’s and other aids from the low vision clinic could no longer help but technology came to the rescue. Audiobooks, e-books with narration and screen readers on laptops all made it possible to remain an avid book worm. Even dabbling in a bit in braille meant that there were no barriers to becoming one with an author again. Reading to another however, was something that she really did miss. Reading large print books with her children as they grew, allowed her to ‘sniff to see; and memorise the books after reading them a couple of times. She now wanted to do this with her sweet 3-year-old granddaughter and thanks to modern day Apps on her phone, she was able to know what the books said and memorize them to read back to her beautiful little angel. Life was blissful again.
Standing in the colourful corner of the book shop where dinosaurs popped out of books and glitter from the exquisite cover left magic on the fingers and heart of the reader, she stood happy in the blur of fuzzy colour that awaited her. Pulling out her phone to use technology to be able to identify what she was looking at, she choose a new book for her granddaughter. Her guide dog patiently waited and sniffed some adventures out to help the best he could. In six months-time, their book would be in a similar joy filled labyrinth of a bookshop which was such a strange but warm feeling. People would soon know how special Munch the guide dog really was and discover what he was really like. The mischief makers secrets would be out and hopefully spread a little happiness to the reader. Stories are always the most powerful when shared.
Here’s to wishing that stories will continue to be spread in a variety of different ways that allows accessibility to all. Thank you to each author that changes the lives of people that they may never meet in person but will always be connected through meetings of the souls.