Image Description: The words “The Books” appear finger painted on a colourful background, surrounded by confetti.
 
 

The Book, The Audio book
and Joseph Clarke School

A Blind Bit of Difference is available in braille, print, online and (soon to be) audio formats!

 

The Book

Extract from The Book’s Descriptive Text of Front Cover:

" This was [Ruqaiya Asim, 14]’s visual response to both the title of the book ‘A Blind Bit of Difference’ and her creative response to ‘Tasting Colour’. The colours she ingested influenced her sensorial approach drawing on a combination of taste or gustatory perception, touch or tactile perception and smell or olfactory perception. Her sensorial design is a ‘rainbow’ of colours: green, yellow, orange, red, pink, purple and blue. This ‘rainbow’ doesn’t form a regular curve like the rainbows we might see in the sky, but zigzags and swirls all over the page as if the colours had taken control of ‘standard’ vision or perception. The colours do not neatly meet each other – staying perfectly aligned, but bleed into each other – smudging the tones together with a sponge-like spattering effect. It seems to symbolise a new perception of colour, where the lines are crossed and the boundaries are broken – new colours are made as they create their own uncensored expression of this vibrant ‘rainbow’. “

Extract From the Foreword

Read all about the wonderful ‘metaphorical wizards’ from Joseph Clarke School, below. This is a sneak preview of the book’s foreword, written by the projects Resident Poet and Sensory Poetry Educator Amy Neilson Smith.

Foreword  
by Amy Neilson Smith  

From the first moment I arrived with my bags of tomatoes, popping candy, dark chocolate, strawberries, host of smelling bottles and sensory music the students and teachers were excited and keen to eat and experiment with tastes and smells to create metaphors and Spoken Word. Who doesn’t like eating on the job (or in class!!)? Food certainly is the way to people’s hearts, especially students! Of all ages!

Some were “gross” by the way! ‘Cruel Capers’ (poem) in this book had a stomach turning effect! Food for me as a Sensory Poetry Educator is the key to unlocking metaphor. Some students who have always had trouble with, or simply never grasped metaphor were brimming with metaphors in our ‘Verbal Tasting Metaphor Games’. The ‘Tasting Circle Game’ in which students keep eating and adding to the last verbalised metaphor, were like a neurological explosion of voices and taste sensations! Metaphorical music to my ears! So exciting to experience! Smells of old fashioned perfume helped one student explore the grief for their Grandmother, feisty music tracks gave rise to another student exploring frustration at ‘ableist’ ignorance, and one of the tastes (spicy in this case!) took them to different countries, with ‘Africa on my Mind’ (poem). The sensory experience is truly magical to watch, as ‘metaphorical wizards’ are born right in front of you!

The title, A Blind Bit of Difference, was taken from a student’s poem: Ibraar’s poem. Each and every student was incredible to work with! Their bravery and honesty in their poetry about vision impairment (VI) was and still is astounding. Ibraar’s title was perfect for the book. They are indeed here to make that ‘Difference’! One member of staff was (highly enthused!) but surprised Ibraar was so ‘active’ with his voice and so ‘present’ and dedicated to the project. He hadn’t always been able to find his ‘voice’ or express his experiences of prejudice towards his vision impairment in other lessons. This is crucial in our current ‘system’ in the UK. Benefits cuts and the removal of their services, access and support need fighting. Young people and students are the future! They need to be heard, celebrated and published! It is exactly for this reason that Poet Residencies are essential in schools, to open a ‘metaphorical gateway’, a new chance to find their voices! Open up their worlds!

Some students were so well read in young people’s literature and audio books I had to do homework! I feel educators and teachers always learn from their students. Positive facilitation allows children to be their own teachers. Independent learning leads to independent children. Independence and an ability to rely upon your own light to guide you is an essential key to being powerful and successful even at times of great challenge. Whilst we as educators are indeed the pumping heart, fuelling the body of the lesson, it’s well hidden under all its powerful muscles...the students! They feel your supporting drive but learn to move at their own pace, independently!
We discovered what the trick was! Once discovering the ‘sensory metaphor’…we had to disguise it! In this book they are often hidden under the poem’s skin. Don’t expect your weekly food shop to fall out on the page, like the classy poets these amazing ‘metaphorical wizards’ are, they are woven with great subtlety into the sensory landscape.

Reviews

The book has received fantastic reviews from famous writers such as THE Michael Rosen and fantastic national disability arts charities such as ‘Sense’!

“This is an explosion of a book; feelings, thoughts, memories, hopes, attitudes and more whizz through the air and land in our minds. I feel privileged to read it. Please read it too and share your favourite poem with someone. These young people are poets!”  - Michael Rosen 

“It’s amazing to see young minds at work, improvising Spoken Word, out loud, free of their Braille machines, whilst breaking out into the new found confidence of life changing performance!” – Zara Jayne, Artistic Director of the inclusive ‘In Sight Theatre

“This book is alive with colour and imagination. The students take you on a vivid journey of exploration, taking the senses beyond what is seen and into a world deep with meaning, poignancy and texture. A joy to read.” – Kara Jarrold, Head of Arts and Wellbeing at ‘Sense’ National Deafblind Charity

“Since reading my head is full of rusty wire flamingos slicing through sound to find their soft and fluffy fathers! The poems create their own visceral and powerful landscape where feelings and the senses collide to make a sense of their own. It’s an important book, and most beautifully, it rings of a freedom that the poets discovered through writing and synaesthetic metaphor”. – Stephanie Singer, Creative Director/ Composer of sensory art and experience ‘BitterSuite’ and ‘Open Senses Festival’ 

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2009/jul/21/michael-rosen-writer

 

The Audio Book

After the successful publication of the brilliant A Blind Bit of Difference, Amy Neilson Smith will continue to work with her “metaphorical wizards” at Joseph Clarke School to produce an Audio Book of their wonderful work! Listen to some sneak previews below and follow our social media to find out when the audio version of A Blind Bit of Difference becomes available!

 
 
 

Joseph Clarke School Centre of Excellence for Vision Impairment and Complex Needs - The Whitefield Academy Trust

 Hurray! It’s Joseph Clarke School’s Centenary Year! They are 100 years old this year! This book and its wonderful collection of the students’ sensory poems was part of the recent royal celebrations! Read this exciting blog to find out all about it!

Whitefield Schools is an outstanding school with an international reputation in special education expertise, curriculum and resources that is reflected in its National Teaching School status.

Joseph Clarke School is highly regarded for its expertise in vision impairment teaching. It attracts pupils from across London and surrounding counties with vision impairment and/or complex needs.

Together with their Research and Development Centre they provide support, training and resources for other educational settings looking to improve the way they cater for their students with special needs and who have vision impairment.

All members of the school communities work within the Whitefield Academy Trust’s mission statement:

Enjoyment, achievement and wellbeing for all

This guides the schools’ practice and underpins all that we do.The Trust works to create outstanding learning communities in which:

  • Children and young people feel safe, secure and valued

  • Children and young people are able to be themselves and feel accepted for who they are

  • Children and young people achieve their full potential

  • Children and young people develop confidence and the ability to express themselves

  • Professionals and parents work together in strong and effective partnerships to gain the best possible outcomes for the children and young people in their care

The Trust is also working to support children and young people to find their place in the wider community and to help members of the wider community to develop a better understanding of people with SEN.