James Chong Kwok-tung believes blind children can enjoy reading picture books like their able-bodied peers do – if the stories are relayed in the right format. Using sound clips, Braille and tactile paper sculpture, the founder of Rolling Books is producing volumes for visually impaired young readers, who use their other senses to help cope with vision loss. “Visually impaired children can touch the paper cut-outs, and hear the audio descriptions to follow the plot,” Chong said, adding the features could animate the characters and provide multiple layers of stimuli for disabled readers. “The tactile diagrams and verbal narratives enable visually impaired children to better understand the movements of characters.” Chong said he hoped to help children living with special education needs to discover the pleasure of reading picture books. He is implementing the book production project in collaboration with specialists in audio description, with an amount of HK$800,000 provided by Chinese University’s NGO Leadership programme. The financial support came after Chong won the 2019 Pitching Day held in Central last Friday during which the publisher competed with 22 other participants in the programme. The programme, sponsored by Operation Santa Claus, the annual fundraising campaign jointly organised by the South China Morning Post and RTHK, has enrolled more than 100 individuals from 87 organisations, including NGOs, social enterprises, charitable foundations and certain for-profit organisations looking into social service opportunities, since its launch in 2015. Operation Santa Claus raises more than HK$15 million for charities In addition to training in management and communications skills, participants in past years were paired with mentors from global financial services firm UBS, and the university. As one of the highlights of this year’s programme, participants were invited to deliver a presentation on a community project to fight for the cash award on the pitching day. Besides showing what they had learned from the programme, contestants were required to explain to adjudicators how their projects could benefit the community. Other project presentations included one on the drawing up of guidelines on the design of barrier-free access, and one on how to enhance the emotional well-being of old people. One of the trainers from the university, Monica Yau Ng Lai-tuen, honorary consultant to the programme, said many participants had proposed possible solutions to challenges faced by the community. “They have impressed people with what they wanted to do,” she said. Dr So Yuk-yan, who teaches social work and has mentored Chong, said it was important that the projects make a bigger impact. “You need to make it more concrete – and explain who are you going to reach and how are you going to reach them,” the academic said. Rob Stewart, head of corporate communications Asia Pacific, UBS, said the firm’s “standby mentors”, comprising legal and accounting experts, had been keen to come to the aid of the programme’s participants. “That helped increase the quality of end products,” he said. Dr Dawning Leung Hoi-ching, who trains audio describers to serve blind and partially sighted people at Audio Description Association (Hong Kong), is working with Chong to add sound clips to picture books. “We will produce tactile booklets for everybody. They can touch them and play with them,” Leung said.