National Reading Month: Many Options Available for Visually Impaired

Published: Monday, March 13, 2017

Libraries and schools everywhere are busy celebrating National Reading Month. Unfortunately for some people, especially seniors, this once loved pastime is no longer an option due to low vision caused by macular degeneration or other eye-related issues that result in low vision.

There is good news! New technology offers more options than ever for those who struggle to read. Additionally, there are new services available to bring various alternatives directly to you. These solutions give everyone the opportunity to enjoy reading again.

Electronic Readers (eReaders)

EReaders are hand-held computer devices that make it possible for books in digital form to be viewed and read by users. For seniors who may have difficulty with mobility or no longer drive, digital books can be downloaded to the device and eliminate a trip to the public library or bookstore. Several of the devices allow users to increase font size or utilize a text-to-speech option for listening.

Common eReaders are: Kindle, Nook, Fire, Galaxy Tab, iPad and Kobo.

Audiobooks

Audiobooks are digitally recorded versions of the printed, paper book being read aloud by a narrator. For anyone unable to read, whether due to a vision impairment or circumstance, audiobooks allow the user to enjoy reading by listening. Audiobooks can be streamed or downloaded onto iPhones, iPads, Androids, PCs, Kindles or Macs. They can also be listened to on the Amazon Echo or Dot.

Downloadable audiobooks are available from hundreds of sources. Some sites offer free downloads, and others require a membership or purchase price. Here are a few sites you can try:

NFB Newsline

NFB Newsline is a free service of the National Federation of the Blind for anyone who is blind, visually impaired or print disabled. NFB Newsline offers more than 400 publications to choose from including national newspapers, international newspapers, breaking news sources, state newspapers, magazines and more. No special device is required to benefit from this service - only a telephone.

For information or to sign up for the free service, visit www.nfbnewsline.org.

National Library Services for Blind and Physically Handicapped

This is a free braille or talking book library service for people with temporary or permanent low vision, blindness or a physical disability that prevents them from reading or holding a printed page. Through a national network of cooperating libraries, NLS offers books the way you want them: in braille or audio formats, mailed to your door for free or instantly downloadable.

For more information or to apply, visit www.carnegielibrary.org/lbph

Reading should be enjoyed by all! If you or a loved one struggles with enjoying books, consider these options and lets start reading!

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