Braille is probably the most famous tool for the blind and visually impaired. It is a written language that can be ‘read’ with your fingers instead of your eyes. Instead of letters, the characters are formed of tiny raised dots. The person reading the braille can run their fingertips along a line, and read it in the same way that you read the words on this page.
It was created by a Frenchman called Louis Braille, who lost his sight when he was a child.
Currently more than 1% of all printed books have been translated into Braille.
In some countries – for example Australia, Canada, India and Mexico, bank notes have special raised symbols on them (like Braille) so that people who are blind or have low vision can identify the bank notes.
TOOLS TO MAKE TEXT LARGER
Some people who are visually impaired can read text as long as it is very large. There are several tools they can use for this.
The simplest and cheapest is a magnifying glass. Magnifying glasses come in all shapes and sizes. Some can be held by hand, or have a stand so that they can be put over a piece of paper for reading.
There are also video magnifier apps that use the camera on your smartphone.
TOOLS TO HELP VISUALLY-IMPAIRED PEOPLE USE A COMPUTER
Much work is done on computers. Programmes can magnify the text on screen to make it easier to read for visually impaired people.
Screen readers are a type of computer software that enable people with severe visual impairment to use a computer. These people might not be able to read even text that is very large. The screen reader programme will read aloud the information on the screen. Or, it can translate the text on the screen into braille, which the user can read with another machine, attached to the computer, that displays Braille.
There are lots of different screen reader programmes. You can download one for free here: https://www.nvaccess.org
These are just a small number of options. There are lots of other tools that can be used to help blind and visually impaired people live a full and independent life.
If you want more information, perhaps to help a family member or friend, you can contact us at Right for Education and we will try to help you find services in your country.
This article is part of Right for Education’s Eye Health Week.