Reading Technologies

In the last 40 years, we’ve come a long way to making reading accessible to all reading disabled people. Technology has enabled almost any printed material to be accessible whether by electronic means, audio narration, large print or Braille.

Ways of reading

Books offer a world of imagination and adventure for children and young people. The Ways of Reading guide will help you find the right reading material for pleasure, information or schoolwork.

What types of information can the access technology read?

The technologies described below can open up the world of reading to print disabled people whether the information is printed or available online as texts, ebooks etc.

Text can of course be recognised but technology is making it possible to read images, barcodes, QR codes etc.

Specialist reading services

Organisations including RNIB, Calibre and The Torch Trust produce spoken word audio for their clients. Many thousands of titles are available from these organisations. Material is recorded onto CD or memory stick but increasingly their content is being made available online to be downloaded or played on smartphones, tablets and computers.

With dedicated apps, it is possible to choose and download a book onto your smartphone or tablet. You can build your own library and depending on your memory capacity, store many titles on your device.

Electronic and spoken word newspapers and magazines are made accessible through RNIB and the Talking Newspaper Association.

Non specialist reading services

In today’s fast changing world, we are faced with many sources for reading. From online ebooks delivered via app or web site to mainstream audio book services opening up the spoken word to everyone.

Technology is making it easier to identify objects. For example, it is possible to scan a barcode or QR code on a food package and have the cooking instructions, nutritional data and ingredients read.

The future for reading has never been more exciting. It is possible to access any type of information anytime, anywhere.


Reading hardcopy print

Up until the early 1980’s, the only way to read print with sight loss was to have it read or to produce it in large print or Braille.

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Video Magnifiers or CCTVS

Video magnifiers can take any printed material and enlarge it onto a screen. The original can be blown up to many times its original size and the use of such technology can often enable people to read print that would otherwise be too small to read.

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Braille

Hard copy Braille is a bulky medium with the average paperback book taking up around six to seven heavy volumes. It has also been expensive to produce.

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Reading with speech

Screen readers provide audio feedback from smart phones, tablets and computers. They provide voice feedback from both the screen and keyboard.

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Accessible websites and apps

Technology is evolving every day. It can be daunting knowing where to start with the thousands of available products. Increasingly, these have accessibility built in, or are from specialist suppliers of products designed for people with sight loss.

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