Reading and Television

Can I still enjoy reading?

There are various options available to enable you to read. These range from simple hand-held magnifiers to closed circuit television (CCTV) magnifiers which enlarge print onto a screen. Specialist accessibility software allows text to be enlarged or read aloud on computers. Most of this equipment can be demonstrated and purchased at your nearest resource centre. However, hand-held magnifiers are usually available free from your local eye clinic or low vision centre. In addition, carefully selected and adjusted lighting can make a big difference to your ability to read or carry out tasks at work or home.

Nowadays, many books, magazines and newspapers are available on disk or tape or for download. Ebooks and audiobooks can be downloaded to tablet computers or smartphones for reading and listening. WH Smith and Audible (an Amazon company) supply a wide range of books. Audible works on a monthly subscription basis. Amazon themselves also offer a wide range of audio books.

Calibre Audio Library provides unabridged books and holds over 8000 fiction and non-fiction audio books and over 1500 books for children. A small one-off membership fee is charged but there are no fines for overdue or lost books and free postage. Books come in a range of formats including cd, mp3 and for download. Further details can be found on the Calibre website.

Local libraries are increasingly offering a wide range of services. Uxbridge library, for example, provides a postal service for unabridged audio books for library members as well as an mp3 download capability through the One-Click-Digital platform covering everything from D.H. Lawrence to Dr Who. Contact your local library for details of their service. An online list of libraries can be found here providing contact details for every library in the London region.

Teh RNIB offer a Talking Book postal service. They have a large selection of unabridged talking books in Daisy format on CD or on a USB stick. They will lend up to six books at any one time. There is an annual subscription of £50 for the service.

The RNIB Talking Newspaper service offers a subscription service providing national daily and weekend newspapers as well as some popular magazines and journals in audio, print, braille formats for download, on cd or usb, on Daisy disks or in large print.

The local Talking Newspaper Service provides local news to many boroughs in the Middlesex region. You can find links to your local talking newspaper service here.

I am finding it difficult to see the TV, what can I do?

While you could consider trying a large magnifier which sits in front of your TV screen, in practice, these are of limited use since positioning the magnifier can be difficult and the magnification won’t suit all types of sight loss. The main solution has been the addition of audio description to programmes, though there are limitations to how many programmes are provided with this service, they are available on Freeview as well as Sky and Virgin Media. Further information on audio description for the television as well for the cinema, online and at sports events can be found on the RNIB’s website together with leaflets giving further information about audio description on the major television providers.

Insight Radio, the RNIB’s radio station for the blind and partially-sighted, offers news and reviews of both film and TV as well as other information. The station can be listened to online and on Freeview channel 730.

You will still need to hold a TV licence if you have digital TV. However, there is a 50% discount for those registered as blind (severely sight impaired) but this does not apply to those that are partially sighted. Further details on eligibility and applying can be found on the TV Licensing website.