Reading apps for people with sight loss

Reading apps are a great tool to help people with sight loss to enjoy their favourite books, newspapers and magazines. You can also use them to enhance learning and research, or for simply finding something you need to know. Many of the apps are free to use and easy to access using a smartphone, tablet or computer.

There are a few things you need to know though, so we’ve put together some information to help you get started alongside a guide to the best apps for people with sight loss. You may also find the information useful if you’re already using a reading app and are looking for something more suited to your needs.

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Best apps for people with sight loss – what you need to know

When you research reading apps you’ll find a range of options, from screen readers for people with sight loss to combined magnification and audio products for people with partial sight and low vision. Some apps also work well with braille displays for braille readers.

The best apps are all designed with accessibility and usability in mind and provide access to a wide range of titles. They are also easy to download, mostly from the App Store if you are an
Apple customer, or from the Google Play App Store if you have an Android device such as a Samsung or Google Pixel phone.

The devices that the most popular apps work with include:

  1. iPhones
  2. iPads
  3. Android phones
  4. Android tablets
  5. Amazon Kindles
  6. Chromebooks
  7. Windows PCs and laptops
  8. Macbooks
  9. iMacs

One thing to bear in mind is that some of the reading apps for vision-impaired people work in tandem with screen readers built-in to your device for accessibility, such as the Apple VoiceOver service or Google TalkBack. If you haven’t used these services before, it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with the gestures (or taps on the screen) that you need to learn to make the best use out of them.

There are some minimum technical requirements for using some apps and the various digital publishing formats (such as EPUB or pdf) that they support. This means you may need to update the software on your device, or in some cases upgrade to a new one. Each of the providers we’ve listed below will let you know what you need on your device before you download their app.

That’s really most of what you need to know. As long as you have a suitable device and an internet connection, you’re ready to access a world of reading that will keep you entertained and informed.

Audible from Amazon offers easy access to the widest range of audiobook courses and podcasts for a monthly or annual fee. EasyReader from Dolphin can browse and download books and newspapers from accessible library services including RNIB, Bookshare etc. Kindle from Amazon has the widest range of ebooks available for purchase from the Amazon website. Voice Dream Reader is a flexible app for reading a wide variety of text and audio formats and can read using the widest choice of text-to-speech voices. These are my favourite four. Many other reading apps exist, but these are a great place to start.
Dave Williams, Reading apps user

Here’s our list of the best apps for people with sight loss we recommend to help you to get started.

Find out how technology can help you live independently with sight loss.