10 Excellent Resources For Blind & Partially Sighted Users

Saikat Basu 17-07-2013

Visual ImpairmentWe may not realize it, but the power of sight gives us an independence we take for granted. To find out if it’s true, close your eyes and try to move around. The impenetrable blackness you see is the world of the blind. Thanks to technology, the world is smaller. Is it the same for the visually impaired? From the evidence all around us, I believe the answer is a hopeful yes. Innovations are helping those who have poor vision or the sight challenged to “virtually” see the world around them. From tattoos for the blind to bionic eyes, the range is impressive. Did you know that there are wine labels imprinted in Braille?


Little things matter. So, why should it be a surprise that technology is being customized for the visually challenged? Technology is the Great Enabler. So, if you know someone who is vision impaired, tell them about the best websites The 100+ Best Websites on the Internet Here are the best websites on the internet to serve every one of your needs, broken into convenient categories for easy browsing. Read More you can find on the web for the blind and partially sighted.

Informational Websites

American Foundation for The Blind

Help & Resources

The American non-profit is well-known for its association with Helen Keller. The organization tries to promote healthy living for the visually impaired by making them aware of technological innovations and their individual rights. AFB over the years has many achievements to its credit. It helped to standardize the English Braille code; AFB’s Directory of Services for Blind and Visually Impaired Persons is one of the most well-compiled information resources on vision loss; and it remains one of the largest producers of talking books. AFB also offers many elearning initiatives aimed at increasing creating awareness for solution that can be used by the blind to better their lives.

National Federation for The Blind

Help & Resources

The National Federation for The Blind has umbrella coverage over 50 U.S. states. It is the largest and oldest (since 1940) membership organization of blind people in the United States. The organization is as much about self-expression as it is about the tools and methods the visually challenged can take advantage of to improve their lives. The organization defines its purpose as — public education about blindness, information and referral services, scholarships, literature and publications about blindness, aids and appliances and other adaptive equipment for the blind, advocacy services and protection of civil rights, development and evaluation of technology, and support for blind persons and their families.


One has to become a member to avail the benefits of the large nationwide network. You can check the Resources page for a complete listing of the areas covered by the NFB.

Royal National Institute for the Blind


RNIB is a charitable organization – one of UK’s high profile ones – that seeks to alleviate the condition of the blind, and those who are at risk to lose their vision. The website of the organization is a portal to tips, advice, lifestyle management links, welfare schemes and lots more. RNIB is a membership organization and its work is supported by an army of volunteers across the UK.  Among the many other things, RNIB runs a free quarterly e-newsletter with information and advice for making the most of everyday technology.

The TechKnowMore blog also features a Website of the Month and App of the Month that are reviewed for their accessibility features and that can improve the lives of the blind.


Books & Audio Books

The Library of Congress

Help & Resources

The Library of Congress in the Unites States runs a welfare program called the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS). The free library program circulates Braille and audio materials eligible borrowers in the United States by postage-free mail. Any resident of the U.S. or any citizen living abroad can avail of this program if they have vision impairment problems. Eligible readers do not have to bear any cost to obtain the “Talking books” from any of the regional libraries in the NLS network. A searchable catalog is available on the site (screenshot above). They are also sent postage-free via the U.S. Postal Service. The materials can be returned via the U.S. Postal Service too. Use the “Find a Library” link on the NLS website to locate a talking-book library in your area or call 1-888-NLS-READ.

Amazon (Text Only Version)

Help & Resources

If you are looking to buy books for someone to read them out to you, Amazon is an obvious place to search. Amazon offers a text-only version of their site which can be put through a screen reader. Amazon also has a great selection of audio books on Audible which is a sister company.



Help & Resources

LibriVox is an audio book website Stream & Listen To Free Audiobooks In Your Browser At AudioLiterate Listen to public domain audiobooks in your browser, then download the ones you like. If you're looking to reacquaint yourself with the classics, AudioLiterate is a great site to check out and browse. There's something... Read More that features quite regularly when one talks about listening books. The website features public domain works which have been converted to audio by an army of volunteers. Check out the catalog of audio books on LibriVox. One of the best ways to download an entire book instead of individual chapters is to subscribe to it on iTunes. You can also tune into the thrice-weekly podcasts here in case you are interested in what’s developing.

You can find nine more full-featured audio book websites The 10 Best Websites for Free Audio Books Want to listen to audiobooks without paying a premium? Here are the first websites you should check out. Read More in a list I had compiled a few years back.

Other Audio Resources

Choice Magazine

Help & Resources


Choice Magazine is a quarterly audio magazine that is published for the visually impaired. The magazine selects articles worth reading from nearly 100 magazines and abridges them for easy listening. Three experienced CML editors select the best-written, most interesting, informative, and entertaining articles, stories, essays, interviews, and poems from current, national magazines. Each issue is 12 hours long and can be downloaded to the computer. CML is also provided through postage-free post. The free player available on the site can be used to playback the files.

ACB Radio

Help & Resources

ACB Radio is a streaming radio service program from the American Council of the Blind. The home site says that it is also a platform for blind artists like musicians to express themselves. You can use free programs like Winamp Winamp - A Solid Media Player That Excels in Managing Your Music Collection [Windows] Winamp is a Methuselah among the third party Windows media players. First released in 1997 and originally developed by Nullsoft, it has become a subsidiary of AOL in the meantime. However, it hasn't lost any... Read More , Foobar Play Music Like An Audiophile With Foobar2000 [Windows] Foobar2000 is the desktop music player of choice for audiophiles, tinkerers and anyone looking for a lightweight, efficient program. We have it listed on our page of the best Windows software for a reason, although... Read More , and Windows Media Player to catch the streams. The Internet radio station has program groups like ACB Radio Mainstream, ACB Radio Café, and Listen to ACB Radio Treasure Trove etc. which you can listen to. Live events are also covered. You can also download archives of the shows for listening to them later.

A List of Free Screen Readers

With healthy eyes, we use screen readers for productivity, and sometimes to help with our laziness. For the visually challenged, screen readers are essential tools to get on the web and consume all the information that’s there. I had reviewed a very good Open Source screen reader called WebAnywhere a few years back. The free screen reader is still very much effective as it was before and you can check it out here.

There are many more screen readers and here’s a small list I managed to compile. Wikipedia has a more complete list of screen reading tools.


And Then There’s Google

Using Google’s Accessibility Features

It’s almost given that a visually impaired person will have to use Google at some point if he or she wants to tap the web for information. Google has a range of accessibility features to cover these scenarios. Google supports the accessible web initiative and has incorporated features across all its products for both vision and hearing impairments. For instance:

Google Search has the Google Accessible Web Search to aid those with vision impairments.

Google Calendars, Gmail and Google Docs have inbuilt features for blind and low vision users.

More Information…

My launch pad for writing this post where these two resources I found on the web. The following two web links include a variety of websites neatly compiled which can help the vision impaired to search for more information. So, my thanks goes out to the webpage builders who took the time and effort to build these two lists.

There are of course, many other excellent resources on the web for the blind. We are relying on you to come out with some of the best in the comments. Lead the way!

Image Credit: hoyasmeg via Flickr

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  1. alan le
    July 18, 2013 at 7:03 am

    Have solutions that suits blind persons to learn music etc.
    check web:

  2. Lee
    July 17, 2013 at 12:34 pm

    Another place to get books is Bookshare. You have to send in proof of your visual impairment (and have to be over 18) but they have a huge selection of books.
    The big downside for people who like audio books is that it's just text to speech. For me that isn't a big deal because I have enough vision where I prefer to read, but if you're completely blind it might be annoying to listen to a computer voice reading the book.

  3. James Beston
    July 17, 2013 at 10:53 am

    Thanks for this - a great list of links for people to use!

    Awful self-promotion I know, but I work for a charity that provides subscription-free audio books for the blind and partially sighted (EU only). We are on the web here:

    • Saikat Basu
      July 17, 2013 at 11:26 am

      Well, thanks for the link. More resources the better.