Tactile books help blind and visually impaired children to celebrate coronation

19-month-old Archie Stone loved opening his coronation gift

Across the country and around the world, millions of us enjoyed watching King Charles III's coronation on screens and televisions.

But for blind and visually impaired children, being involved in such an historic occasion requires a little more thought.

Parents of 19-month-old Archie Stone told ITV Meridian's Charlotte Briere-Edney they were scared that his visual impairment would mean he would be excluded for key events.

"When Archie was first diagnosed with a visual impairment, there was that fear that my son wouldn't live the same life as his siblings," explains mum Gemma Stone.

"And for the first few weeks of his life, it was terrifying."

Archie's has albinism, a genetic condition which can cause blindness.

It means that unlike his older siblings, he can't enjoy the historic event on television.

"Archie doesn't watch telly. He doesn't look at the TV because he can't see the TV," says Gemma.

But on the day of the coronation, Archie received a special gift of a tactile coronation-themed book.

  • Archie's parents Gemma and Ashley Stone say the tactile books are a game-changer at story time

His parents say it's a perfect way to involve and engage their toddler with in the occasion.

"I think what's lovely about the gift that he's received today is actually Archie can sit down and he can feel the images of what a crown would feel like if he was able to ever touch one.

"So for him to be able to touch and feel the image of the king's face, he can get an idea in his head of what that person looks like."

"It paints an image in his head of what we are looking at, which is the bit that is is so important.

"Just because they [children] have a visual disability doesn't mean they shouldn't be involved in any way. So he is now seeing what we're seeing, which is lovely.

"It's not leaving them out, there's that involvement.

"The impact that it has on a little one's life is massive, because suddenly he has a part of history he can not only keep, but he can reflect back on."

"For them, being able to be included is really important because that's all you can ask for, for your children to be treated the same as everybody else."

One of the tactile pictures depicted the new monarch's head as it appears on a postage stamp

Dad, Ashley Stone says the tactile books, which Archie has used before, have made a huge difference: "We love a bedtime story. We do it every night in our house, and there's nothing nicer than actually allowing Archie to be involved with that.

"With picture books he doesn't really know what's going on. He might just turn the page because he sees us doing that. But that's it."

Ashley says the tactile books add another element for a child who can't see pictures: "He's absorbing the information. He's feeling everything around it.

"He's creating an own image in his own mind. That's why we see the real value for him.

"And he absolutely loves them. He would just sit there for so much longer and he's patient with it."

Chief Executive Officer at charity Living Paintings, Camilla Oldland agrees: "It really matters that we look to include blind and partially sighted children.

"They spend so much of their life being isolated and separated because they can't see and they can't take part in things in the same way, in the same speed and with the same immediacy as sighted children.

  • Camilla Oldland, Chief Executive at Living Paintings explains who the concept of a coronation gift came about

The Newbury-based charity gave 7,500 coronation gifts of tactile-audio books to blind and visually impaired children across the UK.

The tactile gifts come with audio guides read by celebrities like Dame Joanna Lumley, Roman Kemp, Sir Derek Jacobi, Omid Djalili, Mel Giedroyc and Eleanor Stollery which help bring the coronation story to life.

"We just feel it's really important that visually impaired children have the same opportunities as sighted children and they can share in the world."