Blind Bibliophilia and Free Books

I’m a nerd. Of course I love to hold books in my hands, flip the pages, inhale the freshly-pressed inky scent. But with these eyes, reading regular print is a hardship. A paperback becomes a project. I gotta use my magnifier and risk major eye strain or fuss with my text reading equipment and hold the book still. Very relaxing.

Tactility is high on my list of ways to live a sensational life. That’s why the prospect of giving up heavy reading due to my vision loss saddened me. Bookshelf browsers and bookmark users made me jealous. Then I explored my library’s e-books and embraced audiobooks and got used to VoiceOver. My literary life flourished. But, it’s not quite the same as tucking into a book in a favorite chair, flipping crisp pages and sipping tea.

My remaining vision holds steady. Yet, there’s no guarantee the glaucoma monster won’t rob more acuity. I acted. As I mentioned in an earlier post. I started a braille course from Hadley Institute for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Braille won’t cause eye strain. It will keep me literate through vision loss. It’s exciting to challenge myself with a new form of communication. I slide my fingers across lines of dots, recognizing the patterns beneath.

book share logo an arc of prange and blue pages symbolize an open book with Bookshare written in blue text on white backgroundAnother perk of continuing education: Bookshare grants Hadley students a one-year membership for free. Textbooks, novels, and more titles are available in multiple formats from the online library. This week I downloaded the files of my first Bookshare e-book. Using the free Capti Narrator app, I can listen anywhere, anytime. Bookshare gives people with print disabilities the opportunity to enjoy previously inaccessible books. This book nerd approves.

Even better, if I excel in my braille lessons, comfort awaits. I could wrap up in a blanket with a book written in braille. Whether books are in braille, audio, or digital form, vision loss does not lead to illiteracy.

What are you reading this summer? Did you know about Bookshare or Capti Narrator? Do you have a print disability? Would you learn braille if you experienced vision loss? Tell me about it.

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7 Comments Add yours

  1. Casee says:

    I’ve been learning braille with the help of some braille magazines I got a hold of and information found online. I held off until the conversion here in the USA to UEB braille. I didn’t want to start learning when I knew the change was coming. I practice every day and though it is difficult I know it is worth the effort. I am currently learning the contractions and they are taxing my memory but in a good way. I don’t want to lose the ability to read for myself. I love books and learning so much. Eventually, I will get in a more formal class setting but not just yet.

  2. Trisha says:

    I’ve always been fascinated by braille so I would want to learn it if I lost my vision. I usually read books on my tablet these days but do I miss the feel of books. I look forward to hearing how your braille lessons are coming along. It seems like it would be challenging to learn to read in a whole new way.

    1. Challenging but interesting for sure. Thanks for sharing, Trisha. Hope your week is going well.

  3. Robyn Haynes says:

    Thank you for reminding me how fortunate I am to have enough vision to read. I really don’t miss my hearing that much. It’s not that bad that I can’t still enjoy music. Some voice pitches are impossible but then, maybe I’m not missing much. 🙂

    1. Making lemonade out of lemons! Thanks Robyn 🙂

      1. Robyn Haynes says:

        a nice way of expressing it.

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