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.
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”.
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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.
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.
In order to provide these features, a special digital playback device or software program is recommended.
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 books and music CDs
- Easier magazine navigation
- Mask cover available.
- Handle to make carrying easier.
- USB port for downloading books.
- Plays both DAISY books and music CDs.
- Easy to use portable player.
Explore 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 Podcasts to 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:
- Read2Go for iPad, iPhone & iPod Touch
- Darwin Reader for Android devices
- Easyreader for Windows computer
- FS Reader for Windows computer
For further details phone Vision Australia on 1300 84 74 66.