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Library Link: Book famine a reality for the visually impaired

Fewer than seven per cent of books are published in Braille, large print, or as an audio book.

According to the Association of Research Libraries, which was established in 1932 in Chicago, there are over 260 million people worldwide with visual disabilities.

Many people with low vision or blindness say they live in a book famine, meaning when a newly published book hits the stands, they are unlikely to be able to enjoy it anytime soon.

The same association says that fewer than seven per cent of books are published in Braille, large print, or as an audio book.

Libraries recognize that many people face difficulties when it come to accessibility, one of them being vision, so Airdrie Public Library (APL) offers a handful of services for people with vision disabilities.

If you have a vision-challenged family member or friend, please read this column to them.

There are several services available through your APL card that can provide vision-challenged patrons with many of the same opportunities for reading and learning as sighted ones.

CELA, the Centre for Equitable Library Services offers 500,000 items to those who may have difficulty reading print due to visual, physical, or learning disabilities.

As CELA members, APL has Digital Accessible Information System (DAISY) audiobooks available for loan.  

Books, magazines, and newspapers can be easily assessed through a screen reader, magnification, learning enhancement software, or a braille display.

NNELS, the National Network of Equitable Library Services, is a collection of digital files in accessible e-text and audio formats for patrons with print disabilities. 

Bookshare offers over 650,000 downloadable books, textbooks, and newspapers, including from authors such as Rick Riordan and Michael Connolly, and magazines such as the Economist and Popular Science.

CloudLibrary also offers a huge collection of eBooks and eAudiobooks for all ages including popular fiction and nonfiction, downloadable to IOS, Android, and Kindle Fire devices.

For more information on APL’s services for the sight challenged, visit, call 403-948-0600, or stop by for a chat with Customer Service.


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