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RNIB relaunches accessible library platform

The charity has revamped its library to provide increased access for the visually impaired during the lockdown

woman on sofa

The Royal National Institute for Blind People (RNIB) has relaunched its library platform to provide increased access to Talking Books for those with visual impairments during the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown.

The revamped accessible library has more than 26,000 titles available. It replaces the RNIB’s OverDrive system, which will be switched off at the end of May.

The changes came after customers told the RNIB that they wanted a library with greater accessibility, full DAISY audio, and e-braille books. The new platform offers all these things for the first time.

Contemporary titles that have joined the library via the new platform include The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel and Westwind by Ian Rankin.

RNIB director of services, David Clarke, said: “Reading has become increasingly important to many blind and partially sighted people as a way of dealing with social distancing measures or self-isolation.

“By getting stuck into a good book, we are transported to another world – away from the stresses and strains of the current situation.”

The RNIB’s library service is funded by voluntary donations, and sends out up to 10,000 books per day. Last year more than 1.5 million books were distributed across USB, CD and digital download.

Talking Books is the charity’s service that provides audio books across all these accessible channels. The RNIB was the first organisation to provide access to books for the visually impaired, launching its first library for soldiers in 1934.

It is hoped that the new online platform will provide more blind and partially sighted people with access to reading, at a time when lockdown measures due to COVID-19 have restricted outdoor activity and other interactions.

The platform’s growing number of books in e-braille will allow people to download and read titles on an electronic braille display.

Mr Clarke added: “We wanted to change the way we deliver our Reading Services for the better – making it even easier for people to access the thousands of titles we offer.

“Our new online library takes advantage of the latest developments in technology and allows people to access our books using a range of different devices, while choosing from an even bigger collection.”

To sign up to the online library or to make a donation visit the RNIB website, or call the RNIB helpline on 0303 123 9999.