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How does a Blind Person Read Books?

Books are important for sharing knowledge and information, even in the Internet age. Books continue to be a crucial resource for education and leisure reading. So how does a blind person read books? Well, there are two main methods, Audio Books and Braille Books.

Audio Books

Audible, synonymous with audio books, was launched in 1995. However audio books were invented in 1932 in America and quickly followed up by the Talking Books service by RNIB in 1935.

Audiobooks first emerged in 1932 with the establishment of a recording studio by The American Foundation for the Blind, which created recordings of books on vinyl records. Each side held about 15 minutes of speech. The following year, Congress passed an amendment that allowed the Library of Congress to begin producing audiobooks.

A short history of the audiobook, 20 years after the first portable digital audio device | PBS NewsHour

Over the years, technology advancements (vinyl records, cassette tapes, CD’s and digital) have increased popularity of audio books. RNIB Reading Services provides free access to over 30,000 audio books, accessible on mobile phones or via an Alexa Skill. Register at

Despite the increased popularity of audio books, not all books are available in audio format. This is where Amazon Alexa comes in, Alexa can read most Kindle books. It isn’t as natural as a human reading them, but it does mean you can read most books you can get in Kindle format.

There is a vast collection of audible books available to be consumed wherever you are.

Braille Books

For many years, Braille books have been available from RNIB in physical format. A regular paper back in print will be several volumes in Braille, making reading paper Braille a logistical challenge. Braille Displays, a device that provides a line of Braille based on digital content, have become more affordable and therefore have seen an increase in popularity.

In recent years, RNIB modernised their Reading Services providing more access to digital Braille books. Kindle books can be read with a tablet or phone connected to a Braille display, providing a wide collection of books for reading.

How do I, as a Blind Person, Read Books?

Personally I have learnt Braille Grade 1 but my speed needs much more practice, therefore I am a huge fan of audio books. I listen to more books since starting to lose my sight, than I did before.

Tell me what you think in the comments below or on X @timdixon82

By Tim Dixon

Tim Dixon has worked in IT for over 20 years, specifically within the Testing Inspection and Certification industry. Tim has Cone Dystrophy, a progressive sight loss condition that impacts his central vision, colour perception and makes him sensitive to light. He likes to share his experience of life and how he navigates the abyss of uncertainty.

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