Accessibility of reading

We campaign to make information accessible to allReading is so important to all of us which is why Read for RNIB is so essential.

When you lose your sight, reading everything – from a cash machine screen, to a newspaper, to a book – can become impossible.

Currently blind and partially sighted readers face a dramatically limited choice of book titles.

Only seven per cent of books are available in large print, unabridged audio and braille, including titles available in these formats as eBooks (RNIB 2011b).

Common eye conditions

Being blind does not always mean that a person is living in total darkness. Some people may have more than one condition or different levels of sight loss.

The pictures of a book page below will give you some idea of what people may see, but remember that people are affected by eye conditions in many different ways.

Effects of glaucoma

Glaucoma can result in tunnel vision, where all side vision is lost and only central vision remains.

Effects of diabetic retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy can cause blurred or patchy vision.

Effects of macular degeneration

Macular degeneration can lead to a loss of central vision whilst side vision remains.

What reading means to me

I’ve always been the same. If I haven’t got a book it’s like I’ve lost a limb. It’s just part of me.”
- Shirley, who has macular degeneration.

I use talking books purely for escapism. I remember reading my first one and falling in love with them. It’s enabled me to read what everyone else is reading so I’m not excluded. My wife talks about a book and I can now join in the discussion because I can read it too.”
- Peter, Wales.

Charlotte loves receiving books from RNIB’s library. It makes it possible for her to read the same books as her friends. She loves reading and currently her favourite books are the Harry Potter series.”
- Mum of Charlotte, registered blind and a braille reader.

Luckily I joined RNIB’s Talking Book Service. Just the thought of not being able to read again was totally devastating so getting hold of talking books was truly a lifeline for me, especially in the early days when I was getting used to being blind, trying to find a new life and new routines. The Talking Book Service was the first thing that made me feel that I was back in the land of the living.”
- Sue was an English teacher and lost her sight a year before she was due to retire.

How you can help

Register for Read for RNIB to help us change the story.

If you have any questions, please email us at or call us on 0845 345 0054 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm).

RNIB Helpline

If you or someone you know has a sight problem, the RNIB Helpline offers an immediate, expert and confidential service. Call our Helpline on 0303 123 9999 or email

WP-Backgrounds by InoPlugs Web Design and Juwelier Schönmann