Reading and Technology

‘I’ve always been visually impaired and I’ve never managed to read books very easily when I was younger, I did have better sight and I was able, sort of, to read but I always found it a struggle so when I discovered the Talking Books service it really way, it’s a bit of a cliché, it really did open the floodgates to a new world…I would be absolutely lost without my books. Absolutely lost.’
Assessing the Impact of Reading for Blind and Partially Sighted Adults, RNIB

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

girl reading large print book

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.