A tale of accessible storytelling

The vast world of published stories has never been more accessible to blind and partially sighted people. TPT presents the latest news in the continuing story of improving access to books, covering several popular digital library services together with details of accessible commercial audiobook and eBook platforms. Let’s begin this like every story; at Chapter one.

Chapter one: RNIB Reading Services

The RNIB Talking Books Service has recently launched its own accessible digital library called Reading Services, enabling blind and partially sighted people to enjoy free online access to a collection of over 30,000 fiction and non-fiction titles. All books are available in the popular DAISY audio format and can be read on computers, smartphones and tablets. There is also a growing list of titles available to download as electronic Braille files for use with a Braille display.

The Reading Services getting started guide explains how to download and listen to books using a computer. However, the most straightforward experience is available on smartphones and tablets through the free Dolphin EasyReader app. Once set up, the Dolphin EasyReader app provides convenient access to the RNIB Reading Services platform, letting you search for, download and listen to books, all from one place.

Chapter two: Calibre Audio

Calibre Audio has also recently revamped its digital service and offers blind and partially sighted people free access to a collection of over 11,000 audiobooks. Their collection contains literature recorded specially for younger readers, including some curriculum resources relevant to key stages 1-4, GCSE and A-level subjects. Members can choose to borrow books by post on memory stick or MP3 CD, or to stream their next listen online.

Calibre Audio can now be accessed on smartphones and tablets through the free Dolphin EasyReader app. Once set up, the Dolphin EasyReader app also provides convenient access to Calibre Audio, letting you search for, download and listen to books, all from one place. Calibre Audio and Dolphin will be hosting a series of free webinars in the coming months demonstrating access to Calibre Audio with the EasyReader app. To find out more and to register, refer to the downloading Calibre books with EasyReader article on the Calibre Audio website.

Chapter three: RNIB Bookshare

The UK education collection from RNIB Bookshare provides blind and partially sighted students and pupils with access to a library of over 500,000 accessible books. Access is available through participating schools, colleges and universities.

Chapter four: accessible commercial eBook and audiobook services

Amazon Kindle and Audible are perhaps the best well known services for eBooks and audiobooks respectively. Millions of books are available for purchase and can be read or listened to using accessible apps available on computers, smartphones and tablets, including Amazon’s Fire Tablet devices. Owners of Amazon Echo smart speaker devices can also access their books through the Alexa voice assistant.

Apple Books is another example of an accessible commercial electronic bookstore offering eBooks and audiobooks for purchase through Apple iPhones, iPads and Mac computers.

Conclusion

Not so long ago, only a tiny percentage of published works were available in accessible formats. This situation has improved significantly over recent years thanks to the widespread availability of accessible reading apps and services.  Blind and partially sighted people are now able to enjoy a whole world of accessible storytelling. This is one tale that is set to continue as technology advances.

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