Reading Books with Visual Impairments

August 12, 2020

A women reading a tablet.

Books can transport you to new worlds, help you learn about new topics, and expand your way of thinking. Vision loss can make experiencing those stories a struggle. However, adaptive technology makes it possible to enjoy your favorite stories.

Here are a few ways to read books with a visual impairment:

Using Magnifiers and Screen Readers
Optical and electronic magnifiers can allow you to continue to read physical copies of the books you have. The Apple App Store offers several magnifier apps that can be helpful. For those reading on the computer, mouse magnifiers and screen readers are the best option to utilize.

Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology printed text to speech (TTS) to allow individuals with vision loss to access printed material by capturing text through a scanner or camera. Once the text is captured, it is processed and the material is read aloud. Text-to-Speech is performed by many software applications such as Open Book, Voice Dream Scanner, and Seeing AI to name a few. There are also many hardware options such as the Enhanced Vision Smart Reader, Freedom Scientific Mini Reader, and SARA. Your can also find TTS featured in many of today’s portable and desktop video magnifiers.

Braille Books
Braille books are another option to read your favorite stories. Organizations like The National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled (NLS) can provide braille books and magazines through the mail. The National Braille Press offer braille books and other braille resources for sale.

Audio Books
Audiobooks are another option for those who want to read. An audiobook is a narrated version of books, and audiobooks have the added benefit of conveying the story with narration and sound effects. Platforms like Audible and Audiobook.com offer their services at a monthly subscription price. If you do not want a monthly subscription, companies like Google Audiobooks and Kobo Audiobooks offer a one-time fee for the service or paying for the books individually. The NLS Talking Book and Braille Library offers their services free to individuals who are blind or visually impaired whereby users receive a digital player that allows users to play books installed on cartridges delivered by mail. This services is also available through their BARD system; here audiobook can be downloaded to computers, tablets, and smartphones. Another option is to visit your local public library to find out what options they have available for audiobooks.

With these tips and formats, we hope that you can continue to experience your favorite stories. If you still have questions, you can contact us at (315) 797-2233 for more information.