Hi everyone,I have created a useful resource pack for blind and visually impaired people. It has become more apparent to me over the years that a lot of the resources and information that blind and visually impaired people often need isn’t in one place and we often have to go searching for it so I tried to put something together that will hopefully help other blind and visually impaired people like myself. I’ve tried to cover things from useful websites, to apps, to equipment to good Facebook groups to be a part of. I’ll keep adding to the list so keep checking back for updates! I’ll let you know when I’ve updated on my Facebook and Twitter so be sure to check those as well.
If you think I’ve missed anything or have something that you find very useful and would like to share with others please do let me know by Contacting me.
There is so much out there for blind and visually impaired people that it is impossible to cover everything but I have tried my best to give you an extensive range of useful resources.
I hope you find this of use and feel free to share with anyone that you think might benefit from this!
Note: I’ve put each category in headings so if you are using a screen-reader you can press the letter H to skip to each heading or change the rotor on Apple products to get to each heading as well. The different headings include: useful websites, UK charities, useful benefits of being blind or visually impaired, screen-readers, magnification software, music software, equipment, iOS/OSX apps and Facebook groups.
Robobraille This allows people to convert files into other formats. For example, converting a word document into audio. This website is especially useful if you have to read a long document or for different methods of revising.
Load2Learn They provide books in accessible formats for blind and visually impaired people and other disabilities such as dyslexia or dyspraxia. Blind or visually impaired people can access the books in PDF format or sometimes in word format and read them with a screen-reader or magnifier.
RNIB Overdrive This allows blind and visually impaired people to listen to talking books, EBooks, talking magazines and podcasts on their phone, tablet or computer. The overdrive service is also available for other libraries, for example a library in your local area.
Cool Blind Tech This website gives you the latest information in assistive technology – news, reviews and podcasts.
Apple Vis This website is designed especially for blind and visually impaired people who use Apple products. It gives you the latest news, reviews, information on new products/iOS and OSX updates, podcasts, blogs and it has a forum where users can ask any questions about any apple product or app.
RLSB (Royal London Society for Blind People)technology RLSB have a tech hub, offering some great tips on assistive technology. Be sure to check out their other services as well!
Paths to Technology Paths to Technology is a Perkins website, it has been designed to assist educators, families and students with visual impairments and blindness in learning and staying current on ever-changing technology.
Paths to Literacy They provide resources for families and educators for children who are blind or visually impaired.
Positive Eye Provides education and training for professionals working with blind and visually impaired people.
Wonder Baby Provides advice, support and resources for parents of blind/visually impaired and disabled children.
The Vision Foundation A support network for families of children with visual impairments who may also have additional learning difficulties and/or disabilities, in the Barnsley district.
Toy Like Me Celebrating children with disabilities in toys.
Able Magazine Disability lifestyle magazine.
BBC – Disability News TheBBC’s dedicated news page for all disability stories.
BBC Ouch! The BBC’s dedicated page for disability podcasts.
Disabled World News and articles about disability.
Disabled Go Access Guides Access guides for venues and locations in the UK.
VocalEyes A company that provide audio described performances, touch tours and accessible visual arts productions to blind and visually impaired people.
Blind Mums Connect A support network for blind and visually impaired mums in the UK.
Through Scarlett’s Eyes A support network for families of blind and visually impaired children.
RNIB RNIB offer a wide range of services for people affected by sight loss, here are a few:
- advice and support
- Emotional support
- Advice for professionals
- Library service
- Shop where you can buy a whole range of items, from games to canes
- Help with technology
And so much more!
Action For Blind People Action For Blind People offer a whole selection of services that include:
- Independent living support and courses on technology, employment and community services
- Children, young people and families services in your local area provide opportunities and events.
- Resource centres where you can buy products and have access to advice, information and productdemonstrations.
- Mobile information service
- Vision hotels
Blind Children UK They offer services to families affected by sight loss.
Their services include:
- Family support which provides advice and information to families affected by sight loss.
- Movement matters – a training service for children and young people including training to move around independently and living skills.
- Education support
- Access technology support
And a lot more!
Victa VICTA provides support to children and young people who are blind or partially sighted and their families.
RSBC Provide education, training, employment support for blind and partially sighted people.
Blind In Business A charity which provides IT, technology, training and resources for blind and visually impaired people.
Living Paintings A great charity that produces a wide selection of touch to see books for blind and visually impaired people of all ages.
The Amber Trust They help blind and visually impaired people reach their musical goals and reach their full potential. They provide funding for music software, equipment and lessons.
Guide Dogs Provide mobility and freedom for blind and visually impaired people. They also campaign for the rights of blind and visually impaired people, educae the public and fund research.
Scope Fighting for disabled people to have the same opportunities as everyone else.
Why Not People Members club for disabled people. Hosting accessible live music gigs exclusively for members and their mates.
VI Talk Vi Talk is a registered charity that shares ideas,and information and also provides help and support relating to all things blindness/visual impairment.
LOOK-UK LOOK-UK is a registered charity that provides help and support for children and families with a vision impairment. They also have a holiday flat in Scarborough, North Yorkshire for families to hire.
Calibre Audio Library A national charity that provides a subscription free postal service of audio books for people with sight problems, dyslexia or other disabilities.
Infosound Providing impartial advice on living with sight loss.
Useful benefits of being blind or visually impaired
If you are registered as severely sight impaired or sight impaired then there are many useful benefits that you can access.
Half price travel or a free bus pass
No council tax
Half price TV licence
No VAT on certain items
discounts on days out
There are many screen-readers out there but here are the main ones. There are some paid and some free.
ScreenReader (previously known as Supernova)
Apple VoiceOver (included in all Apple products)
I am not sure of the cost implications as I do not use this software.
Magic screen magnification
This is on all Apple products, it is fully accessible for blind and visually impaired users. It allows them to write their own songs and much more.
This is software that you install onto your windows computer. It has similar features to garage band. It also allows users to convert printed music into braille. Unlike Garage Band which is free, Dancing Dots software is not.
This is a well-known music software that many people use that is also accessible for blind and visually impaired people.
There is so much equipment out there that it is impossible to list everything but here are a few examples of very useful equipment.
A braille display puts exactly what is on a computer, phone or tablet screen into braille on a device. It works alongside screen-readers such as Jaws, NVDA and Apple VoiceOver. Braille displays come with a Perkins style keyboard so users can either type using the computer keyboard or the braille display keyboard.
A braille note taker is like a laptop but instead of it having a screen, everything is displayed in braille and also has a built in screen-reader. There are two types of braille note-takers: a Perkins-style keyboard and one with a QWERTY style keyboard.
This uses text-to-speech software to read printed documents out loud. For example, books, newspapers, magazines, letters and so much more. There are many different interpretations of these from various developers and companies.
This is a labelling tool, it allows people to create personalised audio labels of things around the home. Stick a label on a product, record an audio clip of what it is and next time you need to know, scan the pen friend on the label and it reads the audio message out loud.
This is a way of reading talking books; either on a cd or other formats.
OrCam OrCam is a portable device that mounts on your glasses. It recognises text, products and faces and speaks what it sees through a mini earpiece.
A lot of these are available on Android as well.
Apps for blind and visually impaired people:
Tap Tap See
This app helps blind and visually impaired people recognise objects and other things, for example tins of fruit or books. Point your iPhone camera to a tin of fruit for example, and VoiceOver will announce what it is.
This app is a low budget version of Tap Tap See.
This app tells users names of objects and you can also change the setting easily to say colours. It works in real time so this is also an added bonus. It uses artificial intelligence where users can also edit the description if the app gets it wrong. The longer the description, the more helpful it is to yourself and other users.
This app is like a ClearReader, scan a printed document and it uses text-to-speech software to read out loud what is on the page. For example, it will read letters/menus.
This does the same thing as KNFB Reader but it is a lot cheaper. Despite the price difference it is still great.
Voice Dream Reader
With this app users can import word documents, pdf documents etc and it uses text-to-speech software to read them out loud.
Voice Dream Writer
This app helps people proofread essays and anything else, it is also great for helping people structure essays.
LookTel VoiceOver tutorial
An app that will teach you how to use VoiceOver.
LookTel Money Reader
This app identifies money, it is great for telling the difference between a £5 note or a £20 note etc.
An app that recognises and describes objects using speech.
This is a good app directory for accessible games and all kinds of apps designed for the blind and visually impaired.
This is a GPS app for blind and visually impaired people. It helps you navigate places, save routes and so much more.
This is the same as Ariadne GPS, it does have some differences and some similarities. It can help you identify travel, restaurants, shops and uses Google maps/Apple maps to help you navigate to a particular place.
This was covered in the useful website section. The app is fully accessible for blind and visually impaired users.
Allows blind and visually impaired people to take selfies independently.
Be My Eyes
Allows blind or visually impaired people to contact sighted volunteers via live video chat for help identifying things.
With so many apps in the app store, it would be impossible for me to list every app that is accessible. Apple Vis have put together a great directory of apps specifically designed for blind and visually impaired people. Check it out here.
Other useful apps:
This app tells you what stops you are at and it also tells you train times.
The Train Line
This allows you to book tickets and is accessible with VoiceOver.
This app tells you what bus is coming next at a bus stop.
Moovit helps you travel independently, it’ll alert you on bus times and also give you a notification when you reach your desired stop.
Pages (Apple’s version of Microsoft Word)
It allows you to write documents. It also comes with a range of templates, for example CV or letter templates which are really useful. This is available on all iOS devices and on Mac.
It allows you to read books from Amazon’s Kindle website using VoiceOver. The app is fully accessible with VoiceOver.
It gives you access to Amazon’s audible website that has a huge range of audiobooks. It is also fully accessible with VoiceOver.
This is a social networking website.
Again, this is a social networking website. Facebook have now released a feature where images are described to blind or partially sighted people using a screen-reader.
This is a search engine that is fully accessible.
Allows people to watch and upload videos.
Allows users to listen to music from just about any genre, artist or playlist.
A great app for texting/voice messaging people.
Great for writing blogs and reading other people.
Users can watch a huge range of TV shows and films. It also has audio description in a lot of its content which is great.
There are many Facebook groups out there for blind and visually impaired people or parents/carers of children or young people living with sight loss. You can post questions and help each other out, they are quite like forums.
Here are a list of some of them:
British Blind Community
Blind and Vision Impaired Community
VI Talk Extra
VI Talk Travel
iPhone and iPad Apps for the Blind and Visually Impaired
JAWS screen reader users
VIP – Hair & Make-up
Playful explorations for children with visual impairment