The following criteria were applied in the assessment of the books in terms of a series of broad questions that would help us to identify to what extent each of the books represented an example of best practice in terms of inclusivity and/or accessibility.
1. How positive is the depiction or message concerning disability?
2. How effective is the delivery of the message in the text/illustrations?
3. Does it offer something new/different or does it fill a gap in the UK in any way?
4. Thoughts on the key audience or market.
5. Any questions or concerns 6. Quality of the writing and illustration.
7. Commercial viability for the UK children’s book market.
Wherever possible, the discussions were structured around the research questions.
OIW conducted a wide ranging approach to the books using a variety of means as mentioned above. This was broadly broken down into four distinct areas:
- Virtual Focus group (VFG) – a range of people with different areas of expertise.
- School and Organisation Focus groups – including a range of special schools or support units within a mainstream school, disability organisations, librarians, mainstream schools.
- Consultation meetings with specialists in the disability field.
- Publisher Focus Group – including a wide range of mainstream and independent UK publishers.
Virtual Focus Group (VFG)
The VFG comprised of eight academic, educators and disability experts.
- Professor Donna Sayers Adomat – Associate Professor of Literacy, Culture, and Language Education, Indiana University, USA.
- Karen Argent – Senior Lecturer in Early Childhood and Care, Newman University (Birmingham).
- Dr Rebecca Butler – writer, lecturer and researcher.
- Patricia Billing –freelance editor in educational literary publishing and adult literacy educator.
- Beth Cox – freelance editor and inclusion consultant and Co-Founder of Inclusive Minds.
- Dr. Gillian Lathey – Honorary Senior Research Fellow, University of Roehampton. (Outside In World Trustee).
- Joanna Sholem – book enthusiast with a particular interest in disability.
A total of 18 'physical' focus groups and consultation meetings were held.
School and Organisation Focus groups
OIW conducted ten focus groups with schools and organisations. The make-up of these focus groups consisted of children, teachers, librarians and parents and the size of the group varied from five to 30.
- National Autistic Society, Surrey Branch – two focus groups, each with a group of up to eight parents.
- Youth Library Group Conference in Durham – a focus group with 12 delegates, primarily children’s librarians.
- New College Worcester, School and College for Visually Impaired Students – two focus groups, each involving up to 15 students, secondary age.
- Hollywater Special School, Hampshire –a focus group with teachers and students who had a range of different additional needs and operated on the P Levels through to Level 1.
- River Beach Primary School, Special Support Centre for Deaf children, West Sussex – two focus groups with children in the SSC, aged five to 11 years.
- St John’s C of E Infant School, Surrey – a group of 30 children in Reception class – informal reading of books and general comment.
- Stepping Stones School, Surrey – approximately 20 students aged nine to 14 years in an independent special school.
Visually impaired students road-testing braille books with a member of the OIW team. Photo © Alexandra Strick
OIW conducted six consultation meetings with experts with specialist knowledge of a specific disability to share books from the project, collect additional feedback and keep informed about the project.
- Nati White, Teacher of the Deaf (TOD)
- RNIB – Alison Long, Reading Services Senior Manager, RNIB Newsagent & Load2Learn and Claire Maxwell, Reading Services Product Manager Braille (who is blind)
- Johnan Bannier, Teacher of the Deaf, Special Support Centre for deaf children at River Beach Primary School, West Sussex
- Claire Ingham, Deafness and Literacy Specialist
- Sarah Carter, National Deaf Children's Society (NDCS).
Publisher Focus Group
OIW held two Publisher Focus Groups through the course of the project.
- Mishti Chatterji, Mantra Lingua
- Alison Curry, Lantana Publishing
- Susan Curtis-Kojakovic, Istros Books
- Emma Langley, then Phoenix Yard Books
- Emma Lidbury, Walker Books
- Janetta Otter-Barry, Otter-Barry Books (and previously Frances Lincoln Books)
- Caroline Royds, Walker Books
- Roger Thorp, Thames and Hudson (and previously Tate Publishing)
- Daniel Hahn, writer, editor and literary translator and Dr. Lathey were also in attendance.
OIW also met informally with other publishers to collect further individual professional expertise.