Browse By Topic: Reading

Literacy is the key to personal independence and access to information. Learn more about the ever-expanding list of available techniques and technologies to help you read, including large print books, low vision devices, audio books, apps, braille, and devices to help you identify your medications. You can also find helpful tips and techniques for everyday living skills, safe indoor movement and outdoor travel, and helpful everyday living products. Register to receive alerts and news relating to vision loss, including the latest updates in low vision and technology research.

Dancers: A Tribute to My Nine Guide Dogs

I wrote this poem while walking 16 blocks with my sixth guide dog to a dental appointment. I am sharing it to honor my nine guide dogs on April 26th, International Guide Dog Day! Dancers: A Tribute to My Nine Guide Dogs We are cloud dancers, You lead and I follow. Our steps synchronized Our bodies swaying to the same rhythm. Swept along in the current of the jet stream. Floating lightly on the swell of an updraft, Swooping into a glide down the slope of a

Raising Awareness About Living with Low Vision Through Poetry

Editor's note: In today's post, Maribel interviews Dave Steele, a visually impaired poet and song writer. We first learned of Dave and his inspiring poetry during Valentine's Day when he shared a poem on retinitis pigmentosa. Learn more about Dave by reading his personal story. Raising Awareness About Living with Low Vision Through Poetry <img src="" alt="Dave Steele holding his book, Stand with Me RP"

How to Get the Most from the Bard in Your Book

Being blind or visually impaired doesn’t have to be a barrier to enjoying a good book. As we celebrate National Reading Month in March, peer advisor and visually impaired freelance writer, Maribel Steel, highlights some of the benefits we can all continue to enjoy either on our own or with our children when we want to get the most from the "bard" in our books. First Impressions The magical world of words that first excites a child’s imagination is often conjured up from fairy tales and fables of childhood. This is a time of wonderment where the bard and the book are one, where nothing can replace the drama of a character as beautifully as in the voice of a loved one. My own experience when I first heard the bard come alive in books were in the voices my

Many Different Hats: An Audio Short Story

Editor's note: In honor of National Reading Month, today's post features an audio recording of Maribel Steel's story, "Many Different Hats." Whether you enjoy reading large print, braille, or following along with audiobooks, the VisionAware peers encourage you to continue to enjoy reading. Click the link below to listen to Maribel's story. Listen to "Many Different Hats" Transcript (Soft music plays then fades out as the narrator begins to speak) Narrator:"Many Different Hats," written by Maribel Steel and read by Carol Middleton. Playing Time: 7:51 minutes.

Amy Bovaird Interviewed About Her Book, "Cane Confessions: The Lighter Side to Mobility"

Amy Authors Second Book on Mobility Editor's note: Beckie Horter, peer advisor, conducts this interview of Amy Bovaird about her second book. Cane Confessions is the second book in peer advisor, Amy Bovaird's, mobility series. The first is Mobility Matters: Stepping Out in Faith. It follows the journey of her orientation and mobility training. In this latest book, Cane

A Poem on Retinitis Pigmentosa to Shine On Valentine's Day

When Dave Steele learned that he was losing his sight to Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP), he took to expressing his fears, thoughts, and experiences through writing poems, songs, and verses. Only two years on, Dave has produced many creative works in raising awareness of the challenges people face in a similar situation. His book, Stand by Me RP is a touching collection of poems reflecting on his journey. We couldn’t think of anything finer for Valentine’s Day than to highlight one of his love poems to his wife and thank Dave for giving VisionAware permission to feature a poem so close to his heart. "I have always believed that music and poetry can make an impact, touch the heart, and

Reading Bookshare Books Is Enjoyable but Maybe Not on iBooks

Reading Bookshare Books on iBooks Announced January 23rd is National Reading Day, which is observed as a time to encourage and celebrate the love of literacy among children. Although it has been years since I was a child, the love of reading has never left me. The ability to peruse a book, newspaper, or magazine has always been a delight. When I lost my vision 20 years ago, instead of reading printed books, I started reading audiobooks. One program I like to use is Bookshare, an online service that provides accessible books for people who are blind or

Review of "How Do You Do It Blind: Answers from People with Blindness and Visual Impairment"

This review is part of our bookshelf series Author Shares His Story of Blindness In 109 pages, Steven Obremski truly accomplishes his goal—to answer the question posed in the book's title “How Do You Do It Blind” for both the general public and people who are newly visually impaired. Answers are provided by hundreds of visually impaired people Steven has worked with in the blindness field, people he interviewed for this book, and his own life experiences. In chapter one,

One Dot at a Time: Learning Braille As Someone with Low Vision

I love to learn. I read books frequently. I ask people about how they do things. I visit museums. I watch TV programs and listen to podcasts reporting on news and art and history. Give me the remote, a Netflix documentary, and a bowl of white cheddar popcorn, and I’m set for the night. My curiosity about life compels me to understand. When I gained low vision a few years ago, I decided to learn how to adapt so I could still live a purposeful life. I switched from paperbacks to ebooks and audiobooks. I use audio tour headsets at museums. I

The Bookshelf: The Challenge of Creating Blind Characters

Writers for centuries have created blind characters as literary devices, symbols, or simply for the challenge of it. Often they make these characters either extraordinary with special talents or helpless and tragic. In literature, the representation of blindness serves to illustrate cultural themes and values but rarely is it accurate or realistic. We end up with stereotypes and poor representations of what it is like to live as a blind person. We know the experience of blindness is as diverse as we are as individuals and it defies stereotyping. Can an author who is sighted create a believable blind character? Can blindness be depicted realistically by someone who is not

Getting Your Feet Wet in the Access Technology Wading Pool Part 3

In Part 1 of this series I talked about the National Library Service (NLS) player and its many uses. In Part 2, I covered how to download an application for NLS and the books they offer as well as other sources of downloadable books. In the this third part of the series I discuss using a computer. Read on! <img src="" alt="Image of man diving off board into pool by David Shankbone [CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL

Getting Your Feet Wet in the Access Technology Wading Pool Part 2

In Part 1 of this series I talked about the National Library Service (NLS) player and its many uses. In this part, I will cover how to download an application for NLS and the books they offer. I will also cover other sources of downloadable books. Getting Started First check out VisionAware's article on Audio Players and Talking Books. This article explains in detail the National Library Service and other audio book services. In a nutshell, to become a patron of NLS and

Getting Your Feet Wet in the Access Technology Wading Pool Part 1

Editor's note: Just in time for school to start in some parts of the world, we bring you Part 1 of "Getting Your Feet Wet in the Access Technology Wading Pool." Stay tuned for Part 2 on downloading books and how you can play them your talking book player and Part 3 on taking the next step and using a computer. How Reading Can Get You Started into Using

The Bookshelf: Reading Books on Blindness and Learning About the Experiences of Others

Reading Books on Blindness Reading is still a pleasure I enjoy every day. The beauty of talking books is that I can multi-task as I listen to my latest selection on BARD. In fact, I can carry around my iPhone filled with downloaded books from my ambitious reading list and listen as I fold clothes, cook, walk the dogs or work out at the gym. I

New Series: The Bookshelf-- Summertime Is Reading Time!

There is nothing like diving in to a good book on a lazy summer day. Vision loss changes our reading habits but it does not have to stop us from reading for pleasure. Whether you are reading with your ears, on a Kindle or an iPad, books enrich our lives and expand our worlds. Once again, the Peer Advisors have assembled a booklist with memoirs, fiction and non-fiction titles about blindness. (see the list of books on blindness). We will be reading and reviewing books from our list

My Father's Day Gift List for Your Dad Who Is Visually Impaired

Dear Son, I recognize this is a bit selfish, but I am not above offering a few suggestions for Father’s Day, on June 19, 2016 (no doubt this is already on your calendar). You are probably already fretting about what to get me anyway, and searching the internet for appropriate items. So I thought I could make it easier for you and the rest of the family, by highlighting a few things I’ve had my eyes on…besides, of course that stunning Ducati motorcycle! Amazon Echo The whole family will fall in love with Alexa, the text-to-speech voice within the Amazon Echo. Check out my article,

What Is Survival Braille?

People Think Braille Is Not Useful In this age of digital talking books, computers fitted with screen reader software, audio labeling systems like the Pen Friend, some believe that learning braille is no longer necessary for people with vision loss. It's true that we have reached an age when more access to printed material is available than ever before. Senior

Unified English Braille Is Here with the New Year

Change Can Be Uncomfortable It always seems that, just when we have learned how to do a task with a great deal of confidence, there is someone out there in the world who comes up with the bright idea in order to make changes and improvements to how we are successfully doing things. We are creatures of habit by nature. So learning to do something in a new way seems to be uncomfortable or even unwelcome. If you have been using a personal computer for several years now, you will recall that every time software developers update their products, there is always going to be a new learning curve in order to accomplish those things that you already feel comfortable in doing. So why upgrade to the latest software development? You know that you can wait on the upgrade for the newer

Five Great Reading Apps for Booklovers Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

Editor's Note: This blog post has been updated to include additional information about reading apps. Check out "Reading Apps for Booklovers Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired" for more information. Electronic Access to Books Has Changed Tablet computers, like the iPad, Kindle Fire, and Samsung Galaxy, have dramatically changed how we read. For individuals

Visiting the Library of Congress and the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Impaired

Traveling by Bus to Baltimore and DC A few weeks ago I joined the Center for the Visually Impaired’s Braille Club as they boarded a bus for a 3-day trip to Washington, DC. We were all on our way to visit the Library of Congress and the National Library Services for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS). The purpose of the trip was to bring a deeper awareness in the use of braille and trigger additional excitement in reading. So all 24 of us left on a Wednesday evening. We rode all night and arrived in Baltimore at the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) Center

Lessons Learned in the School of Life: Going to School with the Dinosaurs as a Visually Impaired Student

Contemplating my twenty-two and a half years of school as a visually impaired student, I can divide the time into three periods: pre-technology, some technology, and the beginning of assistive technology. Kindergarten The half year I alluded to was kindergarten. For me, it was very disappointing. As I told my mother when I came home the first day, “I did not learn to read!” Reading was the bottom line for me. I did learn to climb the monkey bars and could even pass another student as we scooted along on the top. This was a definite achievement for a five-year-old with ten degrees of visual field. So…I dropped out and waited for first

Reading and Writing Blind with My Buddy called JAWS

Editor's note: Our last installment for National Reading Month. by Maribel Steel Have you ever wondered how people who are blind or visually-impaired are able to operate a computer without seeing the screen? How do they move around in cyberspace without cursing the cursor? Well, they use specialized technology to retain independence by learning to log-in to life using a variety of software choices. If you are noticing signs of your sight deteriorating or you are experiencing difficulties staying on top of visual tasks on

What Happens When a New Year’s Resolution Doesn’t Happen?

Last Year’s Resolution About Learning Braille In January of last year I made a resolution to refresh my braille skills. I wrote a blog post for VisionAware called “My Journey Back to Braille.” In that post I shared about how I had learned braille many years ago but had not put it to full use. I shared how I knew the basics of my letters and numbers which is called Alphabetic Braille.

All About Braille: Six Dots, Four Perspectives

January is Braille Literacy Awareness Month, in honor of Louis Braille who originally developed the braille code. Braille has been a major contributor to the independence of people who are blind and visually impaired and we are honoring the month with personal stories about its importance. Bumps On A Page By Mary Hiland How do you make sense of all those bumps on the page? Do blind people

International Day of Disabilities and Impact of Talking Books

Editor's note: Did you know December 3 was the International Day of Disabilities? This year's theme is: Sustainable Development: The Promise of Technology. The United Nations is honoring this day and, in its press release, states, "Throughout human history, technology has shaped the way people live. Today information and communications technologies in particular have impacted a lot of people’s daily lives. However, not all people have access to technology and the higher standards of living it allows. With an estimated one billion people worldwide living with a disability, and 80% of them living in developing countries, access to technology is key to help realise the full and equal participation of persons with disabilities." (

Joining a Book Club Provides Great Reads and Socialization

Reading From an Early Age I have enjoyed reading books since I was a small child. My enjoyment began with my parents reading me bedtime stories from the Golden Book series, which were short stories printed in a hard-bound book with gold trim on the binding. During my middle school years it was Classics by Charles Dickens and contemporary fiction by Judy Blume. Once in high school and college I was introduced to African-American stories by Alice Walker, James Baldwin, Toni Morrison and Richard Wright. Today as a visually impaired adult I can still dig into a good read because books have always been a large part of my life. But it was not until a couple of years ago that I took my enjoyment of

Insights about Using an iPhone: Pros and Cons for Blind and Visually Impaired Users

Peer Advisors Talk About Their Experiences with iPhones Why I LOVE my iPhone! by Audrey Demmitt I was the last one in my family to have an iPhone. I resisted it for some time, feeling intimidated by the technology. Eventually, I got one for Christmas at my husband’s prodding. My adult kids were all home and spent time teaching me how to use it, setting the accessibility features and downloading helpful apps. They encouraged me to "just start looking around and using it and you will learn what it can do." Every day, I learned new functions

Women Who Are Blind Can Lean In

Initial Reaction to Lean In When I first heard about Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, I responded like so many other women in America. I thought how could this woman who has graduated from an Ivy League school, has wealth, a high level senior position, and a husband challenge me to "lean in?" I am working hard as a single, African-American woman with a disability. How in the world do I lean in? Is it possible? Maybe this book does not apply to women like me? So I found myself quickly dismissing all she was trying to say. I saw her interview on

My Love of Reading

Editor's note: With all that has been going on with the close down of the Federal government, one of the programs that was initially affected was the BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download) Program, through which people who are blind or visually impaired can download books to read from the National Library Service (NLS). (Note:The program was brought back online on October 4). BARD Shuts Down The suspension of BARD really didn't make me happy.I am thankful, though, that I had a heads-up and knew that the site would be going down. When I heard that BARD would be off-line when the government was shut down, I logged in and began

The Joys and Frustrations of Technology

Technology--Both Exciting and Frustrating! Technology is one of the most exciting and frustrating things in the world today. It can do amazing things; however, it can be the cause of countless hours of frustration and seemingly wasted time. As a blind person, I have used various kinds of technology over the past twenty plus years. It seems that in the past, in the blindness world, there has been that one new technology that leaps into the forefront, and everyone who is blind must have it. Now, however, as a blind consumer, I have many more options than ever before. In many ways, it’s great to have choices, but

That Computes: Teaching Ways to Access the Computer

Sue and her dog guide at the Seeing Eye Note from the editor: This month VisionAware is honoring vision rehabilitation therapists (VRTs). VisionAware peer advisor, Sue Wiygul Martin, VRT, has written a book, Out of the Whirlpool: A Memoir of Remorse and Reconciliation, about her experiences as a VRT, which will be published soon. This blog is an excerpt from Chapter 26, "Two Clients, One Goal," which will be posted soon on VisionAware in text and audio formatwith Sue's own voice! This excerpt is about Gordon, who has

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