Guide Audiobooks & Talking Newspapers for the Visually Impaired

Audiobooks and newspapers

Last modified: 11th February 2019

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Audiobooks provide reading content in an auditory format generally, with an actor reading out the text.  There are also plenty of options for accessing news.

 

Specialist products

DAISY (Digital Accessible Information System) is a technical standard for audiobooks, developed to assist people who are blind and partially sighted.  DAISY talking books have advanced features to help with navigation and aurally interpreting visual information. See our useful links below for places to buy specialist players.  USB players can be used for listening to audiobooks that have been digitally stored on a USB stick.

Libraries

RNIB Overdrive offers access to a catalogue of 20,000 audiobooks free of charge.

Calibre Audio Library aims specifically to provide talking books for blind and partially sighted people.

Listening Books serves blind and partially sighted people with their collection of high quality audiobooks, including a range of fiction, non-fiction and educational titles.

The National Accessible Library is a free online library for blind and partially sighted people, with books available in various formats including Microsoft Word, plain text and Braille.

Newspapers

If you’re looking for national newspapers and magazines, then RNIB Newsagent offers more than 200 popular publications in a variety of formats.  Many small charities offer services that make local papers available in audio format.  Use the Talking News Federation site to find your local talking newspaper.

 

Mainstream products

Once a specialist product, audiobooks have become increasingly popular in the mainstream. This has been very good news for blind and partially sighted people, who now have a much wider range of reading choices.  Mainstream, online audiobook services include:

Not all books are available in a format where a human narrator reads out the content yet but most books are now available in electronic format, which means they can be narrated using the synthetic speech of screen readers. See our screen readers and magnifiers section for more information on screen readers for desktop or laptop computers.

E-book readers are mobile tablet devices that specialise in reading.  The latest Kindle e-book readers have multiple accessibility features and come with the VoiceView screen reader which enables intuitive, gesture-based navigation of the device. The non-glare screens (or modes) featured on some Kindle devices can be especially useful for people with certain eye conditions.

 

Using your smartphone

All mobile devices can be used for reading.  The Kindle app is available for both Apple and Android devices.  The free EasyReader app for iOS and android offers simple, integrated access to content available on many library services including Bookshare, RNIB Overdrive and RNIB Talking Newspapers and Magazines.  The paid for Voice Dream Reader app is also available on iOS and Android, and can read aloud personal files with a huge range of computer voices.

Many modern mobiles have screen reading software included as standard. Find out more on our smartphone screen reader page.

 

Handy hints

If you want to listen to the news, you can always try asking your smart speaker. For example, you can ask Alexa to play your “flash briefing”.

It can be difficult to transform certain types of visual information into auditory form but innovators are rising to the challenge in different areas. Comics Empower offers an online comic book store for blind and partially sighted people. Their ‘dark’ website is deliberately invisible to people without screen readers.

 

Useful links

The Daily Living Foundation site showcases a variety of DAISY devices.

The Plextalk Pocket and Plextalk Linio Pocket both available from Sight and Sound are also compact devices with tactile buttons.

The Victor Reader Trek is a talking book player and GPS navigation system combined. Enabling users to easily keep track of their journey while reading.

The RNIB Shop stocks a number of DAISY players and also offers access to a wide range of DAISY books.