The future Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams met Rosemary Curtis, founder of the charity The Church and Blindness this week, to discuss the problems of visually-impaired churchgoers. After the meeting, Mrs Curtis said she felt the Archbishop had a clear appreciation of the struggles of blind and partially sighted people - especially in churches. She said: "Too many fail to provide, for example, large print hymnbooks, or large print tourist guides. Both are vital for a sense of inclusiveness. "Being a spectacle wearer himself no doubt reinforces Dr Williams' understanding. He told me his mother desperately needed a large print version of The Book of Common Prayer (1662), but it was not available." Rosemary told Dr Williams there were good grounds to believe that in 2003 the situation may be different. Thanks to lobbying from the charity, Hodder & Stoughton have just announced that Pilgrim's Progress will be available in large print from next summer and they have been asked to produce other religious books for VIPS. Both agreed this ministry is becoming increasingly important due to our aging population, and that older people are, in many cases, far more active than in previous generations. The Archbishop said after the meeting: "The Church is catching up only very slowly with the needs of blind and partially sighted people. I hope that this initiative will help deepen our awareness and prompt further response". Mrs Curtis said: "The generosity of the Archbishop Designate of Canterbury in keeping the appointment in such a frenetic week speaks volumes about him, and his ministry". The Church and Blindness, is an ecumenical charity, founded ten years ago to increase the awareness of eyesight difficulties especially within the context of public and private worship. The website: www.church4blind.org.uk was made text-hear friendly and also offers a choice of four font sizes and three background colours.
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