Scrabble helps blind woman to read again

Kathryn Hanton at Centre 81, Pic by TMS Media Ltd

Kathryn Hanton at Centre 81, Pic by TMS Media Ltd - Credit: TMS Media Ltd

Kathryn Hanton used to love a game of Scrabble - until her eyesight failed.

But now she is using the little plastic word game tiles once more - to help her read again through learning braille.

Kathryn used to be a volunteer at Centre 81 in Great Yarmouth, which provides activities and skills for 70 adults with a disability.

The Hemsby housewife and mum helped members with arts, crafts and playing Scrabble.

But when she began to go blind four years ago she switched from being a volunteer to a member.

Former volunteer Daniel Harris initially taught her braille, and current member Darren Hoare has continued to help her develop further, initially using large scale letters made from cardboard and brass stud paper fasteners, then moving to special braille embossed versions of the little plastic tiles.

“It is the most difficult thing I have had to learn in my life,” said Kathryn. “You have to feel the formation of the dots and need sensitivity in your fingers.

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“It took me a year but I needed to do the smaller letters to read things like pill packets or a book – and the Scrabble tiles have helped. Darren makes words from the tiles and I have to work out what they are.”

Kathryn hopes to play a game of Scrabble again one day and was full of praise for Centre 81, having witnessed its work as a volunteer and a member.

“It is a very good place. It helps people so much and builds their confidence to do things.”

Mrs Hanton visits two days a week and is involved in its singing and groups.

The charity, which also runs a community transport scheme, is fundraising to build a modern purpose-built complex to replace the ageing second hand buildings on its site. To find out more about its work and the appeal visit