Dexter Ward, who has bilateral congenital glaucoma, is raising funds to publish his own story book called Dexter and Gracie Go To Space.
The book, which was written and designed by Dexter, aims to provide a positive, fun role model for visually impaired (VI) children as well as educating children and adults as to why some children use a cane. Costing £2,000 to publish in braille and giant print, Dexter and Gracie Go To Space, the latest instalment in the Scruffy the Uffy collection, makes fun, age-appropriate children’s stories accessible to children with visual impairments at a reasonable price for the first time.
To raise funds to publish his first solo book, Dexter is doing a sponsored trampoline bounce – “Bounce the Moon in June”. With 100 bounces representing one mile, Dexter is aiming to bounce the equivalent of the Moon’s 2159-mile diameter. To date Dexter has jumped 329 miles and is inviting other children and adults to get involved and get jumping or sponsoring this month. Anyone who jumps or sponsors a bouncer (adult or child) more than £20 will receive a free copy of the book.
Commenting on the fundraising efforts, Julie-Ann Ward, Dexter’s mum and editor of Dexter and Gracie Go To Space, said: “£2,000 will enable us to pay for approximately 300 books to be professionally printed. We also hope to be able to subsidise the other accessible books in the Scruffy the Uffy collection and hopefully make them even more affordable to all.”
“As parents we were frustrated by the fact that books for visually impaired children were prohibitively expensive. Being able to find books in a print large enough for Dexter to access himself with an age-appropriate theme, became impossible once he was over the age of three. Based on our experience we created the Scruffy the Uffy collection as well as some numeracy and literacy books aimed at children with visual impairments.”
Having loved audiobooks from an early age and becoming space mad during lockdown, Dexter wanted to write his own book that created adventures for VI characters and to show that children who have a visual impairment still have fun and can enjoy cool adventures.
Dexter's limited vision has influenced all aspects of the book, from the characters to the plot through to the type of pictures used. The colours chosen are bold and contrasting with firmly defined lines. The backgrounds are simple and do not overpower the main picture, which needs to remain clearly differentiated.
Julie-Ann and Graham Ward, Dexter’s parents, started creating books based on Dexter’s input for visually impaired children from their front room. Armed with an A3 Graphic Arts Printer, an Index Everest Embosser and an industrial stapler and A3 Guillotine, they printed, brailled and hand bound all the books in the Scruffy the Uffy collection.
Dexter hopes to raise enough funds to publish the book on 21st August 2022 for his 7th birthday.
The book will be available on the Scruffy the Uffy website: ScruffytheUffy.com and on the Scruffy the Uffy Facebook page. The Uffy books currently retail at £10-14 depending on the book and the format.