Milton Keynes boy’s book publishing dreams of inspiring other visually impaired youngsters


A visually impaired boy from Buckinghamshire is asking for help to launch his own book to inspire young people like him. Dexter Ward, who has bilateral congenital glaucoma, is raising money to publish the story, titled Dexter and Gracie Go To Space.

The book is written and designed by Dexter and aims to provide a positive and fun role model for visually impaired children as well as to educate children and adults about why some children use a cane. Dexter, from Milton Keynes, needs to raise £2,000 to publish the story in Braille and jumbo print.

Dexter and Gracie Go to Space is the latest installment in the Scruffy the Uffy collection and for the first time makes fun, age-appropriate stories accessible to visually impaired children at a reasonable price. In order to raise funds, Dexter does a sponsored trampoline bounce.

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His “Bounce the Moon in June” will see Dexter attempt to jump the equivalent of the Moon’s 2159 mile diameter. To date, Dexter has jumped 329 miles and invites more kids and adults to get involved and jump or sponsor this month.

Anyone who jumps or sponsors a bouncer (adult or child) for over £20 will receive a free copy of the book. Dexter’s mother, Julie-Ann Ward, said: “£2,000 will pay for around 300 books to be professionally printed.

“We also hope we can subsidize the other accessible books in the Scruffy the Uffy collection and hopefully make them even more affordable for everyone. As parents, we were frustrated that books for visually impaired children were a prohibitive price.

Artwork of Dexter, the main character from the latest Scruffy the Uffy series

“Being able to find books in a print large enough for Dexter to access with an age-appropriate theme became impossible once he was over three years old. Based on our experience, we created the collection Scruffy the Uffy as well as some numeracy and literacy books for visually impaired children.

Having loved audiobooks from a young age and gone crazy for space during the coronavirus lockdown, Dexter wanted to write his own book that created adventures for visually impaired characters. He wanted to show that visually impaired children still have fun and can experience cool adventures.

Dexter’s limited vision influenced every aspect of the book, from the characters to the plot to the type of imagery used. The colors chosen are bold and contrast with well-defined lines.

“The backgrounds are kept simple and do not overpower the main image, which should remain clearly differentiated. Julie-Ann and Graham Ward, Dexter’s parents, began creating books based on Dexter’s input for children visually impaired from their living room.

Dexter hopes to raise enough funds to publish the book on August 21 for its 7th anniversary. The book will be available on the Scruffy the Uffy site, as Uffy books currently sell for £10-14 depending on the book and format.

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