I am a Canadian librarian living with vision loss. This blog helps me with RA (reader advisory) work, by reminding me of what I have read and to whom I might recommend such titles.

Many of the books I read and then write about are available through the CELA library, my local public library, or via Bookshare, in the US. They are DAISY format books, which can be read using a DAISY reader.

A picture of my portable DAISY player, a Victor Reader Stream. I use a Victor Reader Stream, a portable DAISY player, to which I wirelessly download books from the CELA library. I also transfer books from Bookshare onto the SD card, which is the device’s memory. It’s a real life-saver, since I spend so much of my time on public transportation and the portability is essential to my quite active lifestyle.

A picture of the Victor Reader Stratus, which plays DAISY CDs, as well as downloaded files.I also purchased a second-hand Victor Reader Stratus, which I use to listen to DAISY books on CD. I get these either from CELA or from my local public library. The sound quality of this one is MUCH higher than that of the Stream, so I do evening and weekend reading on this, when I can.

These players can read DAISY format, which is like an audiobook with increased navigation and the ability to add bookmarks. They also have a voice-synthesiser, which they use to read text (.txt) and HTML documents, Word, PDFs to which OCR has been applied. (Often, if you save a PDF as a picture, it will not be accessible to people like me, who use assistive devices such as screen readers.) These players also play MP3 and .wav files, and let you record notes (verbal) so you can transcribe them later.

Finally, on my computer, I use the AMIS reader from the DAISY Consortium, a wonderful open-source project that makes books available to visually-impaired people around the world. I also use NVDA (NonVisual Desktop Access) an open source screen reader you can download by donation and that allows blind and visually-impaired people use computers and the internet, and ZoomText, screen magnification and reader software. Please do consider supporting this wonderful social justice project!