Wonderful performers

6th May 2005 at 01:00
Libby Clegg. Royal Blind School, Edinburgh A depressing storyline in TV hospital drama ER inspired 14-year-old Libby Clegg, a pupil at Edinburgh's Royal Blind School, to create an award-winning website about living positively with visual impairment.

Principal teacher Rob Jones told his students, including Libby (left), about the ER episode. "It was about a character who had macular degeneration, which is an age-related sight loss. At the end he shot himself because he felt his life wasn't worth living," he says.

Libby, who can only read print enlarged to 48-point, and who has represented Scotland and Britain as a sprinter in international disability athletics competitions, wasn't impressed. "The man killed himself because he went blind. It didn't seem right. So we started a website, to put our point across about what visually impaired people can do," she says.

That was a year ago. With fellow pupils Luke Quinn and Aidan Innes, Libby began to create pages about sporting and artistic opportunities for blind people, inspiring accounts of individuals' success, and practical tips for daily living, including helpful gadgets. "We wrote about how independent visually impaired people can be. You can do a lot of things by yourself today. There's a lot of equipment that can help."

Downloading a website development tool from a Dutch foundation called Sonokids, which supports web design by young people, the students created their own text and uploaded pictures into the template-based design. The point was "not to create a flashy, wonderful, all singing all-dancing website", says Jones. "What was important was what they were saying about visual impairment and about themselves."

It was this content that won Libby a trip to Jamaica from the internet charity Childnet International, in a competition to promote positive use of the internet. She was one of 11 prize winners among 225 entrants from 49 countries.

* Libby's website is at: www.sonokids.orglookingatyou

* Details of the competition are at: www.childnetacademy.org

Interviews by Karen Gold

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