Girl, 12, takes battle to top

PUBLISHED: 13:46 26 April 2007 | UPDATED: 15:05 12 May 2010

GEORGINA BULLEN, who has a rare eye condition. 2348DW3

GEORGINA BULLEN, who has a rare eye condition. 2348DW3

A YOUNG girl who suffers from a rare eye condition is determined to improve the prospects of blind and partially-sighted schoolchildren. Twelve-year-old Georgina Bullen, is one of just three children in the world who suffer from macular degeneration (AMD)

A YOUNG girl who suffers from a rare eye condition is determined to improve the prospects of blind and partially-sighted schoolchildren.

Twelve-year-old Georgina Bullen, is one of just three children in the world who suffer from macular degeneration (AMD) - a condition that is often associated with old age and one that causes blind patches and moments of sight loss.

Despite this, Georgina, who attends Melbourn Village College, lives a normal life. Although, she is however, unable to do one of the things she loves most - read books.

And that is not just because of her limited sight, but because there are very few books available that cater for visually impaired youngsters.

Georgina said: "I love reading, but it's obviously difficult for me.

"It's a shame because I often hear about these wonderful books, but most of them don't come in a format that is suitable.

"My mum will often read to me, but this takes away the imagination and adventure of reading them for yourself. And that is what I enjoy most."

Georgina has now grown frustrated with the lack of resources that are available and has joined the Royal National Institute for the Blind's (RNIB) Right to Read campaign.

She also joined more than 100 blind and partially sighted youngsters at Westminster last month, to demonstrate the need for audio and electronic reading equipment in schools.

She has also written to Education Secretary Alan Johnson and has offered to speak to MPs.

Georgina said: "Maybe if they speak to one of us in person they may understand better, because at the moment a lot needs to be done."

RNIB research has shown that thousands of youngsters are losing out because books in large print, audio and Braille are just not available.

Julianne Marriott of RNIB has described the situation as "nothing short of a scandal" and said that despite claims for improvement, the Government is failing children with sight problems.

Georgina is also aware of the time it takes for the school's support staff to retype and enlarge work so that it is easier for her to read.

Staff can spend 12-15 hours every week producing materials for Georgina to use.

Georgina said: "As there are very few options available, staff have no choice but to use up so much time.

"If more resources were made available, it would be easier for all of us."

Georgina listed English and history as her favourite subjects, and said that one day she would like to be a lawyer.

"That's what I would love to do, and I'm hoping by the time I get to university things would have improved," she said.

She added: "I feel like I have started something, so I'm going to follow it through to the end."

Melbourn Village College's learning support co-ordinator Helen Brace said: "We support Georgina in her goal, and she certainly has the passion to help make it happen.

RNIB RESEARCH

# Only 12 per cent of maths and 8 per cent of science GCSE textbooks in England are available in large print or Braille

# Not one of the dictionaries or atlases used by 14-16-year-olds is available in a format that blind or partially sighted children can read

# Nine out of 10 fiction books never make it into a format that visually impaired children can read and very few school text books are produced in accessible formats

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