Accessible Libraries

‘You get to meet other people and hear their opinions. When you’re blind, especially when you can’t see at all, you need to keep in contact. The worst thing about being completely blind is you can’t really start a conversation very easily because you haven’t got eye contact… It’s nice to hear other people’s opinions.’
Assessing the Impact of Reading for Blind and Partially Sighted Adults, RNIB

We want to ensure that the almost two million blind and partially sighted people in the UK can visit a fully accessible library service, that has a local collection of accessible reading materials and information in physical or digital forms.

People with a visual and/or print impairment can access alternative formats for free from the following libraries in the UK (in alphabetical order):

Calibre(www.calibre.org.uk)

Calibre Audio Library is a national charity providing a subscription-free service of unabridged audiobooks for adults and children who are unable to access standard print. They have over 11,000 audio books to choose from, and available titles can be searched for online.

Clearvision (www.clearvisionproject.org)

ClearVision is a postal lending library of children’s books designed to be shared by visually impaired and sighted children and adults. All their books have braille, print and pictures, and there are over 14,000 books in the collection, catering for children from birth until they’re independent readers. You can find out more via [email protected] or you can call on 020 8789 9575.

Royal National Institute of Blind People (www.rniblibrary.com)

RNIB Library has over 60,000 items for people to borrow, including audiobooks, braille and giant print (24pt) and accessible music. It is the largest library of its kind in the UK and the full catalogue of titles can be searched online. Further information is available via the RNIB Helpline on 0303 123 9999.

Living Paintings (www.livingpaintings.org/)

Living Paintings is a charity who design, create and publish tactile books, with audio for blind and partially sighted people, i.e. ‘Touch to See’ books. They have titles suitable for anyone from pre-school to adults, and distribute these through their FREE postal library. To register as a library member, please visit www.livingpaintings.org or speak to the Library team on 01635 299771. You can contact them via email [email protected].

The Vision and Print Impaired People’s Promise

The Vision and Print Impaired People’s Promise sets out the experience that people with blindness, sight loss and other print disabilities should have through public library services.

We think that everyone visiting a public library should be:

  • Inspired by an exciting accessible environment which makes reading and seeking information a pleasure.
  • Have the opportunity to engage with libraries and reading through imaginative digital opportunities with support to build their skills, knowledge and creativity.
  • Have access to a range of inclusive and diverse books and other information resources in accessible formats that allow them to engage with reading both for pleasure and for daily living.
  • Able to take part in a wide range of reading and cultural experiences, including book-based and digital activities, which are accessible to all.
  • Actively involved in decisions about service developments.
  • Supported through library services and activities taking place both in library buildings and in the community to improve their independence, health and wellbeing

Share the Vision have developed a training course on the promise in partnership with Libraries Connected which is available to all library staff in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

‘Every six weeks they have a session led by the two librarians… They serve us tea and coffee and have a trolley with CDs and tapes on… and they read us the synopsis.’
Assessing the Impact of Reading for Blind and Partially Sighted Adults, RNIB


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