Rankin get his hands-on first novel

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By Karrie Gillett
CRIME writer Ian Rankin is enjoying seeing his first published novel – in braille.

Now, the best-selling Rebus author has launched an appeal calling on more books to made available to the visually impaired.

Yesterday, extracts in braille from Rankin’s 2004 thriller Fleshmarket Close were placed on the stone walls of the real Edinburgh street of the novel’s title.

Marking the 200th anniversary of the birth of Louis Braille, Rankin is joining forces with Royal Blind to call on writers and publishers to improve the accessibility of reading in braille.

Rankin, whose teenage son Kit is registered blind and attends the Royal Blind School in Edinburgh, said it was vital to have all works open to visually impaired readers.

He said: “It’s not like listening to an audio book, it’s just not the same.

“I have seen braille books before but it’s only children’s books that I have seen.

“I have always been very jealous that my books haven’t been in braille. I’ve seen JK Rowling’s books transcribed but not mine so I’m happy today to see it starting.

“Hopefully we will get more books, more comics, more newspapers transcribed in braille.”

Yesterday, the Fife-born author had the opportunity to see his first completed braille book after a Rankin short story called Death Is Not The End was translated at the Scottish Braille Press in Edinburgh.

The service provider – founded in 1891 – publishes a range of magazines and books for the same price as the original print copy.

Rankin, 48, said: “It’s a huge undertaking to transcribe a book into braille but with new technology and some funding hopefully that process will get quicker and easier.”

And Richard Hellewell, chief executive of Royal Blind, said it was brilliant to have Ian Rankin to launch the beginning of the fund-raising campaign.

He said: “It’s important to have a massively popular author like Ian come along. He’s someone that people can identify with and it’s been great to have him involved with us.

“We are going to use the money we raise to replace the press building in south east Edinburgh and make improvements to the school.

“We are hoping to house the braille press somewhere which will provide the quality that we have been producing for years but using new technology.”

Braille writing uses raised dots which represent the letters of the alphabet, with symbols used for punctuation.

In 1824, Louis Braille, the architect of the touch reading method, invented the six-dot Braille system aged just 15.

The Frenchman’s invention was adopted internationally and today it remains the standard form of writing and reading for blind people in virtually every language in the world.

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