Reading is a passion of mine. I love it! There are many resources out there for visually impaired/blind people. I use a lot of these sources. Here are just a few that I enjoy, and work for me.
Jaws with Duxbury and Bookshare: One option I used to use all the time but not as often now, but is still great, is Jaws with real speak voices. When downloading a book from Bookshare, you have many options. One option is BRF. If you choose this, you can let JAWS read it. First, extract the book then open it with Duxbury. From here, you can translate it into text with control +T and have JAWS read it with a real voice from Freedomscientific. Another option is to translate it, then select all with control +A, and paste it into word. Either way to make JAWS read, you do insert + down-arrow. I would suggest downloading a different sounding JAWS when you read. They have less robotic JAWs, in a range of languages, and some with accents. My favorite is British.
Victor Reader from Bookshare: Victor Reader is another program by Bookshare. They have Victor Reader with images too. It has many options like, page & font colors, rates, bookmarks, and a few different voices. For those who prefer to listen instead of Braille reading, then this is another great option. However, it is for computers, and all two voices are very robotic.
Read2Go: (UPDATE: NO LONGER AVAILABLE) This is a mobile app from Bookshare. It is very similar to Victor Reader for computers. I enjoy Read2Go better because I can read (listen) books anywhere but you can also connect a braille display to read from also! Secondly, to me the options are quicker to get too. For example, to bookmark you simply press the bookmark button at the top right. Lastly, I like this app because downloading books is easy. You go to the very bottom and go over to “search Bookshare”. Then you go search, and type in the title, author, or ISBN number. When you find the book, you press on it or tap to open with VO. From here, you can go to either download or book details. If you press or tap download, in a few seconds the book will automatically downloaded to your device in “my books”. In addition, Bookshare has a huge range of books. However, the voice sounds robotic and messes up on pronounce some words.
BARD: is the “Braille and Audio Reading Download” and you can use a mobile app and an internet site on your computer. The biggest advantage of this app is that the books are read in real voices! BARD also has a wide range of books to listen to and read from in braille. Another great thing is that you can have multiple books on your device at a time. I do not like that you actually have to go to the BARD website to get the book. Before any of this, you go to the app stop and download the free BARD Mobile app. Then go to the BARD website and search for the book you want. When you find it, press adds to wish list”. Next, go back to the app’s main page. At the top is your wish list, and open it. Your book should be there, but you have to press on the title to have it download. When it has finished downloading, go back to “bookshelf” at the bottom left. There you will press or tap on Audio books. Lastly, press on the book title to start reading it. When I need something under my hands to see the words, I can emboss a copy from my computer or add a braille display on my iOS device and this helps me to really fall into the story. So lots of options with BARD.
Amazon Kindle App: This app is great and you use it with VoiceOver! It connects to your Amazon account. All books you can get on Amazon, you can read on your app. First, you must have an Amazon account. Then go to the App Store and search for Kindle App. Then download to device and the app is free. Next, after it downloads, you sign in with your account and select the device you want the books to download to a particular device. After, you can go to Amazon and search for books. When searching for books, type in the author, or title. Just make sure to put Kindle or Kindle book after title/author. When you download a book, you go to the app and it will open to bookshelf. Press or tap on the book and it will open. To read it you use VoiceOver with a 2-finger swipe down, 2-finger tap to stop and 1 finger double tap to go to status and locate bookmark on the top right and double tap to bookmark. May book sites are associated with Amazon like BookBub or Early Bird and many more and of course Kindle Book Store. When you sign up for BookBub or any book site, every day the book sites will send book deals to your email address. They have tons of books for less or free! Kindle Book Store is an app that when opened, sends you directly to Kindle Books section on the Amazon website. It makes finding your book faster. I use these resources all the time. I like it better than Bookshare because it has the newest books quickly.
Audible: This app also from Amazon is probably my favorite! It’s all audio books read by real people. Even though Amazon is behind the app, you do not have to have an Amazon account. Just like BARD, you have to go to audible.com and download the book. You sign in, and search for the book you want. When you found it, press on the book for story details, a sample, and downloading. If you do not use the app, you press “buy for $” but if you use the app press “buy with 1 credit”. Then, go back to the app and wait until the book appears. Lastly, press on the book to download it on your device. It usually takes about 5 minutes. After, you can start listening to it. They have the newest to oldest books. My favorite thing about the app is that, you can keep those books forever, even if you cancel your subscription to Audible! However, the huge negative of using this is it does cost money. To use Audible, each month you have to pay $14.99 for the simplest package. With that package, the first month is free, and each month Audible will give you a free credit.
Braille: My last reading resource is of course is Braille. Now I know many people including me, prefer to listen rather than reading Braille. However, I can say that learning Braille was one of the best things that have happened to me! Braille helps me read schoolwork, especially math and reading for pleasure. Without Braille, I would always be struggling and way behind my classmates. Yes, sometimes you cannot get the book right away and it takes work to get it ordered or emboss it off so listening can just be faster and preferable when speed is wanted but braille makes life easier when you have to have those dots under your fingers for understanding. There are resources to get Braille books and teachers who would be happy to teach Braille codes. I have learned how to order my own braille books also early enough so I have them for the following school year.
Reading is a huge part of my personality, and I could not imagine not bringing able to use these great resources to read! I know there are other reading apps out there. Which ones do you use? What are your favorite ones?