More and more devices are available that enable people who are blind or have low vision to access literature and printed information.
New commercial eBook readers are becoming more user friendly for people who are blind or have low vision. Find out more about eBook readers
Products designed especially for people who are blind or have low vision include audio book players or DAISY players. These are designed to play back audio books that are very easy to navigate and access because they are produced using a format called “DAISY”.
On this page you will be able to find out about:
Audio book players using the DAISY format
Audio book players designed to support DAISY format give people who are blind or have low vision a lot of functionality to access and enjoy audio books.
DAISY stands for Digital Accessible Information System. It is a digital talking book format that offers many advantages over traditional audio books on a traditional audio CD.
A DAISY book may contain both sound and text. DAISY books can be read on a portable digital playback device, a regular mp3 player or on a computer equipped with playback software.
DAISY books offer people who are blind or have a print disability a better way to read, and have numerous advantages over traditional books on CD including:
- Links between text and narration – DAISY books allow a reader to go directly to specific sections, chapters or pages, and place bookmarks.
- When you finish reading, a digital playback device player will "remember" where you stopped, and resume play at that same place when you start to read again.
- Better sound quality. The digital recording eliminates the traditional hiss and background noise found on cassettes, especially books that have been played many times. This is important for readers who may have some hearing impairment.
- Longer recordings. Up to 50 hours of audio may be contained on one DAISY CD - the equivalent of more than 30 standard cassettes. This eliminates the frustration of sorting multiple tapes or CDs for low vision readers and prevents the hassle of missing or damaged parts of a book.
In order to provide these features, a special digital playback device or software program is recommended. These devices also play standard audio books and music on CDs and MP3 files.
DAISY audio book players are designed for people who are blind or have low vision. They give prompts and describe the function of each button so there is no need to remember too many instructions.
Some DAISY audio book players have a built-in speech synthesizer that reads documents aloud from a variety of sources such as a Word Processor or the Internet. They can also play audio books or music files and access DAISY books (link to Digital playback).
Further features of these devices include the ability to:
- start and stop listening to any document;
- navigate among documents or within a document;
- navigate by letter, word, sentence, paragraph, page, or section;
- hear the current position (as a percentage) in a document;
- set book marks within a document;
- listen to spoken audio books or music files;
- make voice recordings;
- control pitch, speed, and volume of speech;
- delete documents or lock documents to prevent deletion;
- access built-in help for using device;
- set sleep timer to turn unit off after a set amount of time;
- lock keys so you can put it in your pocket or purse.
To use a number of these DAISY audio book players, you will need access to a computer to enable the books and documents to be transferred to the device. Once the documents have been transferred across, the unit can be used independently of the computer.
Usually the battery life of these units is in the range of 4-5 hours.
Prices from $600.
Common DAISY audio book players
A range of DAISY audio book players are available. Some are designed to sit on a desk while others are more portable and can fit in your pocket or handbag. Here is a list of models available.
- Mask covers less frequently used buttons to make this player easier to use (the mask comes with the player).
- USB port for downloading books
- Plays both DAISY and music CDs
- Easier magazine navigation
Available from Vision Australia Equipment Solutions (1300 84 74 66)
Plextalk Pocket PTP1
- Compact and portable.
- Supports numerous formats including DAISY, text and document files, mp3 Audio and more
- Records in DAISY format so comes in handy when recording lectures and meetings.
Available from Vision Australia Equipment Solutions (1300 84 74 66).
- Mask cover available.
- Handle to make carrying easier.
- USB port for downloading books.
- Plays both DAISY and music CDs.
- Easy to use portable player.
Visit the online shop’s section on DAISY audio book players
Olympus DM-5 (Available from Vision Australia’s Equipment Solutions)
BrailleSense and VoiceSense notetakers (Available from Pacific Vision)
BrailleNote and VoiceNote notetakers, and the Classmate Reader (Available from Humanware)
You can also access DAISY audio books through your iPod Touch, iPhone or iPad. To do this you need to download an app. Visit our Podcaststo find out more.
If you have a Mac or Windows computer you can use DAISY playback software to access audio books. Find more about this technology by listening to this podcast: Jamie's review.
Some free examples of DAISY playback software include:
Some examples of commercial DAISY playback software products include:
Note This product listing does not constitute an endorsement of these products by Vision Australia. Prices are approximates only.
For further details phone Vision Australia on 1300 84 74 66.
Frequently Asked Questions about DAISY
On this page:
What is DAISY?
- DAISY is an acronym for Digital Accessible Information System
- DAISY was developed in 1995 by a body of experts, including Vision Australia, responding to suggestions from blind or vision impaired readers from around the world.
- DAISY is a way of preparing an audio book that allows the reader many more options than cassette or audio CD books, for a superior reading experience.
- Libraries for the blind are now producing DAISY books around the world.
- For more information, see www.daisy.org
Will I find it hard to use this new technology?
- Most clients who try DAISY books and players find them much easier to use than books on tape.
- DAISY books are contained on one CD, so there's no need to juggle multiple cassettes.
- DAISY books have a better sound quality, so if you have trouble hearing, you will find a DAISY book easier to listen to.
- Several models of players are available, with large tactile buttons and simple operation.
- Books will arrive as you need them.
Do I have to use a power point?
- No, your player has an internal rechargeable battery. It can be fully charged by turning on the player both at the power point and the power button for a period of 8 hours.
- When fully charged, the battery will last up to five hours.
How can I receive assistance/training for the digital playback device?
- Please call the Readers Services Team on 1300 65 46 56, for telephone assistance. Face to face training may be possible in certain locations.
- Instruction manuals and troubleshooting tips are available online
How do I have a digital playback device repaired?
- If you have been loaned a digital playback device by the library, please contact the library to arrange a repair. Repairs are free of charge. Please DO NOT attempt to repair it yourself.
- A replacement player will be posted when the faulty player is received by the library.
- If you have purchased a digital playback device, you are responsible for all repairs for your digital playback device.
- Most digital playback devices come with a one-year warranty.
Your digital playback device will need to go back to the place of purchase or manufacturer for repair.
DAISY book player training guides & support
Need assistance with your DAISY player? Then contact the Readers Services team on 1300 65 46 56 to book a DAISY telephone training session. Alternatively you can download one of our DAISY training guides.
For queries relating to handheld devices and i-access ® online, please contact the i-access support team on 1800 00 59 65.