A BLIND Southampton man is bringing the Christmas message to the visually impaired by launching a range of Braille Christmas cards.

Fed up at the poor choice of cards for the blind, Simon Highsmith, who runs local Braille translating firm Azzabat a play on the phrase "as in blind as a bat", has come up with his own.

And not only are the messages in Braille but he can also convert the images so they can be enjoyed by the 1.5 million registered blind people living in the UK.

"I wanted to receive cards in Braille so I could read them myself," said Simon, 37, who lost his sight aged 13 because of a detached retina.

"I only found one shop that sold them and the choice was minimal. They were very poor quality, quite small and with few words.

"Lots of blind people have blind friends to whom they want to send cards and to have the independence of reading them without having to get a sighted person. Now I am also putting the pictures through the Braille embosser to create tactile pictures that you can actually feel."

Simon's design's feature bold pictures of reindeer and snowmen as well as other traditional Christmas images and have thoughtful seasonal messages inside. Azzabat, which is based in Paynes Road, Southampton, and employs one member of staff, specialises in translating printed documents, books, menus, leaflets and business cards. "I know there's a big market for this."

To get hold of the cards, which are priced £3.50 each, contact 023 8071 4791 or e-mail sales@azzabat.co.uk. Visit Azzabat's stand at the Bournemouth Craft and Card Fair at the BIC from November 19 to 21.