Nowadays, with the increase in technology, there are so many more options for blind and partially-sighted people. You can purchase speech and magnification software for your PC, and some mobile phones (like Androids or the iPhone) have it built in. I love the Kindle app for my iPhone. There are so many books available and I can read them as soon as they come on the shelves, but websites are also extremely helpful. Did you know supermarket-websites sometimes have cooking instructions on them? With Tesco, if I go to the link for a product (let’s say chicken Tikka Masala), within that link it’ll have the ingredients, nutritional information, how best to store the product and how to cook it. As you can imagine, this is very useful if you live alone and can’t read the packaging. When my shopping’s delivered, if there are 2 ready meals that feel similar, I have an app on the phone called TapTapSee that reads the packets, telling me which one’s which. This also helps with identification of clothes. I don’t have many that feel the same; just a few items, but the app can tell me whether it’s white or grey textile. It doesn’t always get the colours exactly right, but close enough. RNIB sells something called the pen-friend audio-labeller. I haven’t got one, but it sounds wonderful. You record a label and put it on your jar, then when you hold the pen over that label, it reads what you’ve recorded. If you know Mayonnaise lasts 6 weeks from the time you open it, you could record a message saying you opened it on June 10th. Then 5 weeks later when you’re wondering: “When did I open that Mayo? Is it still all right?” you can hold the pen over the label and find out!
Braille books take up significantly more room than print ones, so reading online is a great space-saver. Using the Bible as an example, I have a New International Version (NIV) in Braille. It’s 38 volumes and takes up 2 shelves of a bookcase. Here’s a passage in the NIV:
“In Him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:11-12).
Now here it is in the New Living Translation:
“Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for He chose us in advance, and He makes everything work out according to His plan. God’s purpose was that we Jews who were the first to trust in Christ would bring praise and glory to God.”
Which did you like best? I liked the second one. It’s far easier for me to understand, but you can’t get that translation in Braille. You can, however, get it on a website called Bible Gateway. This is a fantastic site where you can search for any passage of the Bible in whichever version you choose. You can even search for a phrase or topic. It’s useful to blind and sighted people alike. Years ago, my pastor told me he had 21 Bibles. 21 Braille Bibles would fill my whole house!
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It must be sad for someone losing their site to find they can’t access material the same way, but it’s good that these resources are there if they’re willing to learn and adapt.