E-books ‘much more accessible’ for blind people

The Bookseller website recently published a short article stating that E-books ‘much more accessible’ for blind people to quote:

A report by the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) has revealed that 84% of the top 1,000 best-selling e-books in 2012 could be read by partially-sighted people, up from 45% in 2010

As someone with previous vision problems, I have found that both Audiobooks and Ebooks have been of great value, when my eyesight has prevented me from enjoying reading. However, the ebooks are only as good as what the publishers provide to readers – I’m not sure that some publishers are fully aware of all the possible niches in the ebook market.

I have several ebook readers – a Kobo Touch, an iPad mini with Kobo and Kindle software. Some books have been easy to use – switching colours and contrast, increasing font size etc. However, I’ve had other books which have been painful to read – e.g. they have been made available in pdf format and unavailable to read on an iPad, which results in the text being tiny and unchangeable. For someone who has had problems seeing smaller that 24 point font, to be presented with a text that is 8 point, 9 at a push makes me give up quite quickly.

If the publishers and authors want to make full use of the ebook market, is it not worth them taking the time to get the formatting right? Surely there are decent markup editing software (that’s NOT Adobe Digital Editions!), that can make ebooks readable by those who need it?


2 thoughts on “E-books ‘much more accessible’ for blind people

  1. I am registered blind and greatly value the ability to read independently using ebooks. I access ebooks using the text to speech facility on my Kindle or the Kindle app on my iPad utilising Apple’s voiceover. I find the Kindle great for reading books, such as novels where one tends to read from start to finish, however the ability to skip backwards and forwards is very difficult for a registered blind person such as myself. I have a small amount of residual vision which is useful for mobility purposes, however I can not see to read print so rely completely on either voiceover or text to speech. Even with all the drawbacks blind people are still in a much better position as a consequence of ebooks than was the case prior to their invention. Unfortunately a minority of publishers and/or authors do not enable text to speech on their titles which means that those books are inaccessible to me. All of my books do have text to speech enabled as I’d hate to think of fellow blind readers not being able to access them.


    • I get loads of egalleys to read, and the formatting on some of them is appalling – who ever invented DRM PDFs needs to be given a slap (or at least be made to read a book after losing his central vision!).

      It’s therefore a joy when I get a book properly formatted as it means that I can relax and actually read the book itself.

      I do think there are many tricks still being missed over ebooks and audiobooks. One of the nicely formatted books I’ve had is from a small indi writer, so publishing is no longer in the realms of the big publishers! Audiobooks (or ebooks with voice over facilities) are another arena where much work could be done, and the abilities of the narrator are so important – I’ve given up on books because the narrator has been so poor.


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