Braille courses developed by an East Lancashire charity have been launched nationwide.

Braille IT has worked with Liverpool’s Open Awards to launch three innovative new qualifications based around learning and teaching the tactile writing system used by people who are visually impaired

The charity was founded by Chris Tattersall, 70, from Clitheroe, in 2006.

He began learning braille in 1997 after being registered blind at the age of 40.

Braille IT offers free classes in Blackburn, Clitheroe, Burnley and Accrington.

They are accessed by people who wish to learn braille due their own visual impairments, or sighted people including family members and teachers learning braille to support others.

Mr Tattersall said: “Braille has opened so many doors for me.

Lancashire Telegraph: Chris, with Annette Summers and Rachel NewmanChris, with Annette Summers and Rachel Newman

"It’s been a chain reaction, and lots of steps forward that have led to working with Open Awards and launching these qualifications.

“This opens up opportunities for more people to access the qualifications and puts them on a national level.

“Once you start with braille it doesn’t end - you can carry on learning and improving forever.”

Formal accreditation by Open Awards gives the qualifications Ofqual recognition, meaning they can be delivered by other charities and educational establishments around the country.

Its chief executive, Heather Akehurst, said: “Open Awards is delighted to have worked with Chris and the team at Braille IT to launch these qualifications.

“The charity has done so much to support visually impaired people and their families in East Lancashire, and this partnership means their expertise in braille can be accessed by a nationwide audience.”

Two qualifications cover the production and use of braille content, while the third programme qualifies students to support the teaching of braille.

Students can complete the qualifications in person, or receive materials by post to study via distance learning.

Development of the courses has also been supported by St Vincent’s School in Liverpool, which specialises in supporting students with sensory impairment and other needs.

The work of Braille IT is assisted by volunteers and Alison Hargreaves - a volunteer of 20 years and now Project Manager - who supports the day-to-day running of the charity and successfully secured Lottery funding to sustain its activities.

She said: “Everything that Braille IT has achieved so far is down to Chris, with his teaching skills and enthusiasm.

“Chris has worked really hard for 20 years to make these qualifications possible.”