Bringing pictures to life for blind people

by Louise James in Kingsclere, England, United Kingdom

We did it
On 2nd November 2018 we successfully raised £4,358 with 51 supporters in 28 days

We create tactile images for our Touch to See books for blind and partially sighted people. We URGENTLY need a new thermoform press!

by Louise James in Kingsclere, England, United Kingdom

New stretch target

Any extra funds raised beyond the price of the new thermopress will be used to purchase additional resources for the production workshop e.g. paint, paintbrushes, thermo-forms, packaging. 

"Living Paintings has shown me how to see with my fingers and paint pictures in my mind." Luca, 16

"Being told my little baby boy was blind was heartbreaking. He would never be able to enter the magical world of picture books that his sisters and I love so much. I felt the special time of laughter and hugs over bedtime stories was being stolen from us. Living Paintings changed all that." Mother of Jack

What we do

We help blind and partially sighted people to understand our visual world.  We make special versions of pictures with raised surfaces that come to life when fingers feel them.  Our immersive sound recordings direct the fingers, telling the stories of the pictures and describing their features.  In this way, the senses of touch and hearing combine to make up for the missing sense of sight.

We also include colour versions, so sighted friends and family can share in the exploration of the pictures, helping to end the sense of isolation that sight loss causes.

One of our 15,000 beneficiaries is nine year old Ted from Nottingham, UK - you can meet him in the short video above. He has Stickler syndrome, which caused his retinas to detach resulting in him becoming blind at the age of two. He says Touch to See books have "opened his eyes to the world".

What we need

We have an amazing machine at Living Paintings which creates these raised, tactile images and which are so integral to our Touch to See books. The machine is a thermoform press. Working in partnership with fantastic authors and publishers, illustrations are selected from their picture books and a mould of the image is handmade by one of our skilled volunteers. This is then used to press multiple copies of the image using the thermoform press. The raised images are added to our Touch to See books to enable blind and partially sighted people to 'see' the images using their fingers. 

Our trusty thermoform press has given Living Paintings 28 years of faithful service and urgently needs to be replaced. It will cost us £2,340 inc VAT for a new machine (even after a charity discount) and we are looking for your help!  Please support us with this vital piece of equipment - pictured below. If 234 crowdfunders can give £10 - we're there! For all donations of £50 or more we will send a thermoform image as a keepsake - choose from one of 3 designs (UK delivery only).

Thank you so much for your support. 

More about Living Paintings

There are 2 million blind and partially sighted people in the UK. Moreover, every 15 minutes someone is told that they will lose their sight, including 4 children every day. It’s a devastating diagnosis, leaving parents uncertain as to how their child can join in with story time, follow school work with their sighted peers, and most importantly make friends. As well as the educational impact, blind children face social exclusion as they struggle to join in conversations about the visually informed subjects that are the basis for so much social interaction. And for elderly people, who often live alone, blindness can lead to life shattering isolation, leaving them cut off from the world around them.

Our books are lent out to visually impaired children and adults across the UK through our postal service - our beneficiaries can borrow as many books as they like and the service is completely free. From the littlest fingers through to elderly people who suffer sight loss, our books are designed for sharing - in class with sighted peers, at home with family and friends, and in our volunteer-led Touch to See Book Clubs.

Our work changes lives and the stats speak volumes: 98% of Living Paintings beneficiaries have an improved quality of life; 82% of children are more interested in reading for pleasure and 88% of Book Club members have improved self-confidence.

"Living Paintings enabled our daughter to feel part of the everyday world that everyone else takes for granted. Being blind is incredibly isolating, but the Touch to See books ensured that other children took an interest in how she read. The books give her a positive view of reading and of herself, which is incredibly important for her mental health." Mother of Emily

Living Paintings’ Touch to See books, with their raised images and wonderful, immersive soundtracks provide a unique understanding of the visual world for those who cannot see. We invite you to look at a short video of how our Touch to See books are made:

And also our recent BBC Lifeline appeal video which features Ted, Tayen and Sue: 

For further information please visit or find us on social media @LivingPaintings

Thank you. 


This project offers rewards in return for your donation.

£10 or more

£10 Reward

A £10 donation towards a new thermoform press would be amazing and would be a lasting investment in our core production process. In return you will have the knowledge that blind and partially sighted children like Ted and Tayen, or blind and partially sighted adults like Sue, will continue to access the joy of reading and for the visual world to be revealed to them using our Touch to See books - completely free.

£50 or more

10 of 70 claimed

£50 Reward

We will send all crowdfunding donors who give £50 or more towards a new thermoform press will receive their own keepsake thermoform image. UK delivery only and please provide a postal address to Choose between: - Van Gogh's Sunflowers - Major Tim Peake's selfie - The Gruffalo

Got an idea like this?

Our crowd has raised over £70 million for bright ideas and good causes.