There are several options available if you’re having problems reading standard text in books, newspapers and magazines.
One of the simplest options is to use a magnifying device that can make print appear bigger to help you read. These can be obtained from a number of places including hospital low vision services, optometrists, local voluntary organisations, and the RNIB.
The RNIB also has a collection of large print publications you can borrow, as do most libraries.
You could also use an e-reader to help you read. E-readers are handheld devices that allow you to download books and subscribe to newspapers and magazines on the internet. You can choose a setting that allows you to display text at a larger size.
If you’re unable to read at all you could sign up to the:
- National Talking Newspapers and Magazines scheme, which can provide audio versions of more than 230 titles online or on a CD
- RNIB Talking Books Service, where you’re sent audio books to listen to on your computer or on a device known as a DAISY player
You can also install screen-reading software on your computer that will read out emails, documents and text on the internet.
A charity called Communication for Blind and Disabled People has released a free screen reader for the PC called Thunder. Similar software is available for Apple devices, although you may have to pay a small fee.
There are also voice recognition programmes where you speak into a microphone and the software translates what you say into writing. These programmes can also be used to issue commands, such as closing down the internet and moving from one website to another.
Some people with severe sight loss, particularly those who’ve had the problem from a young age, choose to learn Braille. Braille is a writing system where raised dots are used as a substitute for written letters.
As well as Braille versions of books and magazines, you can buy Braille display units, which can be attached to computers that allow you to read the text displayed on a computer screen. Braille computer keyboards are also available.