A stone’s throw from the Panthéon, in Paris’ Latin Quarter, a large-print bookstore shows its commitment to more inclusive reading. For a year now, the bookshop with large characters has been offering books with XXL typography for the visually impaired for better reading comfort. An unprecedented initiative that appeals to a wider audience than expected…
On the shelves, readers will discover the latest publications such as the Goncourt 2021 Mohamed Mbougar Sarr Prize, the books of Patricia Falvey, Pierre Billon but also the more classic works of Flaubert. These works intended for a visually impaired readership not only offer texts with enlarged characters, in format 16, 18 or 20, but are also printed on opaque paper, “not too dark and not too white to avoid dazzling”says the newspaper Pilgrim†
The choice of ‘police’ is also crucial. The pages feature Helvetica, Museo or Luciole fonts, much more legible, in the spotlight. The latter is also specially designed for the visually impaired. The structure of the letters, most of the words, spacing, drawing of the numbers, mathematical signs and punctuation have been specially catered for readers with a visual impairment.
In their bookshop, Matthieu Rondeau and Agnès Binsztok welcome lovers of beautiful letters in a setting specially designed for their needs. A soft yellow light bathes the place so as not to offend photosensitive people and an above-average counter allows customers to use their magnifying glass to view the bill.
A public health problem
In France, 932,000 people suffer from severe visual impairment, while only 6% of the books are suitable for reading by the visually impaired… For the two partners, it was therefore urgent to propose a concrete solution to increase the inclusivity in the literary sector. “It’s a public health issue,” Agnès Binsztok said. Read no more, a person loses cognitive functions. †
“It’s not at all the same pleasure as that of an e-reader”, Valentin Bertrand confides to the pilgrim. The 22-year-old student, who has been visually impaired since birth, is delighted to have finally found a literary gold mine accessible to him. When the visually impaired clientele asks for more, the booksellers are also surprised to receive an even larger audience, made up of hyperactive or dyslexic people, for whom large print aids concentration.
To bring this unique place to life, Matthieu Rondeau founded the Friends of Great Characters association to fund the publication of new books. His partner, for its part, is involved in the youth sector to enable students and schoolgirls to find shoes that suit them. A shocking duo!
If you would like to support the association, you can do so here.