We live in a world where people’s eyesight is getting worse by the day. Among children, reading is a vital part of their early development and when a child gets frustrated with the process due to poor eyesight, it can be disheartening and damaging. Fortunately, eBooks are a great way to help overcome this problem. Here is an overview of how eBooks help visually impaired children learn to love reading.
By the Numbers
The numbers are staggering—up to 10 percent of all readers have problems handling regular print books. This amounts to millions of people all across the world who might otherwise be strong and joyous readers, but due to vision problems, turn away. Options such as braille, audio books and large print volumes have been available for well over 100 years, but for many these seem outmoded in an era of high technology.
Digital Publishing and Vision Impairment
The digital publishing revolution has resulted in a slew of new options for those with vision problems. A massive rise in eBook publishing over the past 20 years has resulted in a tidal wave of renewed passion for reading among those who have poor eyesight. In the month of March 2014 alone, almost a quarter of the population downloaded at least one eBook. Those are staggering figures.
It doesn’t hurt that over 95 percent of all adult fiction titles come out in eBook format, and children’s titles are beginning to follow suit. The sheer availability of eBooks have made them an amazing resource for children with visual impairments.
Accessibility for Visually Impaired Children
E-readers, smartphones, tablets, computers and other mobile devices have made books and reading more accessible than ever. Text-to-speech programs that allow conventional print books to be read aloud are a boon to those with vision problems. On-demand services allow those with vision impairments to request books that are not already available.
Interactive eBooks which incorporate reading aloud with images and activities have also been a great help for those children who otherwise might have difficulty reading simple text. For those who still read braille, there are even e-readers on the market that can create braille in the same way that e-ink creates text, but using a series of raised pins instead of magnetic “ink.”
This current and exciting wave of e-texts is only the beginning of a new age of accessibility and ease of use for those to whom reading may have been unavailable in the past. Publishers continue to digitize their back catalogue of books, while third-party nonprofits work diligently to produce out-of-print and public domain titles. The industry is standardizing towards a couple accepted formats, making software for interpreting eBooks easier to produce.
If your child has a visual impairment and you’d like to try an interactive eBook, check out our list of free titles, and then explore the rest of our site for more amazing early literacy tools to get your child exploring the wonderful world of literature.