Home Learning Disabilities & Autism Free downloadable picture book supporting gas safety for people with learning disabilities

Free downloadable picture book supporting gas safety for people with learning disabilities

by Kirsty Kirsty

Books Beyond Words, the UK’s charity for empowering people with learning disabilities through accessible picture stories, has launched the latest title in their series, Getting Help with Gas. The full-length picture book is available to buy or can be downloaded for free from their website.

There are approximately 1.3 million people in the UK who have a learning disability. Research suggests 79% of people with a learning disability in 2022 were living in their own home or with their family. Getting Help with Gas can open conversations about common problems that can occur with gas appliances in the home, including dealing with scammers pretending to be from the gas company, and what to do when you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning. The book supports people who are already living independently, or who are thinking of living on their own; those who are in supported accommodation, and those who live with family and friends. It provides clear messages about what to do and who to call when things go wrong.

As the book has no words, instead using the shared language of pictures, it can also be helpful for people who do not speak English, or who have a cognitive impairment like dementia or an acquired brain injury.

Beyond Words stories encourage people with and without learning disabilities to describe what they see in the pictures, telling the story in their own way, whilst drawing on their own experiences to explain what is happening. Increased understanding is empowering, enabling readers to contribute to decisions that affect their lives.

All Beyond Words books are co-created and extensively trialled with people with learning disabilities, to make sure the stories are relevant and easy to understand by a wide range of different people.

Lead author Dr Keri-Michèle Lodge explained:“Issues like scammers at the door, contacting our utilities companies and dealing with problems with our homes are things we all have to deal with. For a person with a learning disability, a lack of accessible information around what to do can be a significant barrier to them feeling confident in their home, or knowing what to do in a crisis. Our new book, Getting Help with Gas, is a great way to start conversations and build understanding about how to get help, or solve problems when they start.”

Cadent Gas, who funded the book, said: “At Cadent, we constantly look for better ways to ensure that all customers have equal access to our products and services. To Support this, we are delighted to work with Beyond Words and their excellent team, to create this new way of being more accessible helping a person with a learning disability to understand, process and respond to information which supports independent living, whilst keeping themselves safe and warm”

Dr Lodge, a Consultant in Learning Disability Psychiatry at Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, collaborated with artist Lucy Bergonzi, who has illustrated many Beyond Words titles, and co-authors Nigel Hollins, Co-Founder of Beyond Words, and Professor Sheila the Baroness Hollins, Founder and Chair of Beyond Words, to create the picture story over many months.

Getting Help with Gas is available as a free download, or in paperback form (for £12.50), on the charity’s website.Guidance on how to use word-free picture stories is included for anyone unfamiliar with their practical application.

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