Making the Bible accessible for all

Many children with learning difficulties, sight loss or lower levels of literacy find reading God’s Word difficult. We have probably become accustomed to its format but for many children and young people, and indeed a lot of adults, it is quite a confusing book. All those chapters, verses, columns, red letters and footnotes can make the Bible look more like a textbook or encyclopaedia than God’s words to us.

If you’re parent of an older child who has additional needs, it can be difficult to find a Bible that isn’t either aimed at young children, or too difficult to comprehend. So how can we help our older children to read and engage with God’s word in a way that is easy for them to understand?

The NIrV Accessible Edition is one step towards creating greater Bible access and inclusion within the church, for those who may struggle to engage with the text and formatting of a ‘traditional’ Bible. 

Developed in partnership with Livability, Torch Trust and Urban Saints, the NIrV Accessible Edition uses Biblica’s NIrV translation and features, with shorter sentences and simpler language, a specially designed (16pt) font, more white space, a single column setting, and bespoke illustrations to aid understanding.

So how can this make a difference?

Kim is a typical fun-loving fifteen-year-old. Everyone who knows her talks about her kind heart and her big smile. She enjoys riding horses, swimming, playing badminton and loves books.

Kim spent the first seven and a half years of her life in Thailand, with some of that time spent in Rainbow House, run by Christian Care for the Disabled. She has an acquired brain injury, which has resulted in left-hand sided hemiplegia and epilepsy. But she hasn’t let this stop her – she is a girl who gives everything a go and never gives up!

Her mother, Heather has been reading the Jesus Storybook Bible to her, to help Kim understand and remember the story of creation, the fall, and God’s plan of salvation. Heather spent years trying to find an age-appropriate Bible that Kim could read herself but ran out of options.

It wasn’t until a kind friend gave Kim an NIrV Accessible Edition that things started to change. Heather recalls the time when Kim first saw it:

“As usual our curious Kim opened up the Bible in the back of the car to take a look. After a few quiet moments, I could hear her start to read it. Then she yelled, ‘Mummy, Mummy! I can read it; I can read my Bible!’”

Being able to read independently is so special to Kim, and an answer to prayer too. She is more interested in the Bible, knows the stories so well and that knowledge enables her to focus on the text and boost her reading skills. Kim can now bring her Bible to youth group at church and read it just like her friends can. This is just so precious!

Heather added, “The Accessible Bible has become the means of unlocking the joy, peace and strength that comes from being able to search the scriptures, for those who can find reading difficult. It has become a means of unifying friends who in other areas of life enjoy the same things, in the ability to share in Bible studies together. This has been so important for Kim as a teenage girl, longing to be part of the group.” Find out more about the Accessible Bible here.

Written by Trevor Wilson (UK Partnership Manager at Biblica)

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