One can find a number of reading aids for the blind and visually impaired. Reading aids are often mechanical devices in some form, such as Braille, or audiocassettes or discs. The sources to obtain such materials can also be described as reading aids for the blind. Finally, sometimes a blind person can acquire a human "reader" to assist her.
The most traditional reading aid for the blind is Braille. Braille is a system that equates printed matter into a language of raised symbols corresponding to the printed alphabet of the blind person's native language. Blind people can use Braille to read books by feel, and they can write in Braille using a special stylus and punchboard. Although Braille is a useful reading aid for the blind, it is often difficult to manage for intensive reading, such as a college textbook.
Another reading aid available to the blind is the increasingly large selection of books on audiocassette tape. For some applications, hearing the book out loud is a more efficient way to learn. For heavy-duty reading, this audio approach is more suitable than Braille.
National Library Service Book Machine Products
The National Library Service offers a variety of recorded materials for the blind, plus a free fact sheet on where to obtain cassette players and player-recorders for those materials.
Regional Libraries for the Blind
In some areas, regional libraries for the blind offer reading aid. In Missouri, for example, a regional library for the blind in St. Louis provides reading material on cassette tape or recorded disc. Local pograms for the blind and visually impaired, and local schools for the blind, have information on what programs are available in their areas.
Sometimes, the local authority or organisation that deals with services to the blind makes human readers available, at no cost to the blind person or her family. For example, the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind does this for blind college students. The readers are often recruited among classmates by the commission or the student. The commission pays the reader an hourly fee. The sighted reader reads assigned readings out loud. Because they are enrolled in the same or similar classes, the blind student can ask the reader questions about the material.