Books and newspapers

What accessibility features are available for books and newspapers?

Audio recordings

There is a type of audio book called a DAISY book that allows a user to navigate through it.

DAISY stands for Digital Accessible Information System. This format assists people who have difficulty in reading printed text. With DAISY digital talking books a user can navigate their way around, such as fast forwarding or rewinding, or search the audio content using sentences, words or page numbers.

It is possible with a DAISY book to add synchronised text to the audio so that a user can read along, but many DAISY books only include audio. DAISY book files are computer files that can be downloaded or placed on a USB stick or CD. 

RNIB have a library service called the BookStream book club which allows users to stream DAISY books to their computer or order them on CD.

Other types of audio recordings are called digital audio books. These are audio books you can buy or borrow from some public libraries and can be downloaded to your computer or other devices. The largest stockists of downloadable audio books to buy is audible.co.uk.

Books are also available in large print and braille. Large print books may be available from your local library service but the best source of braille books will be the RNIB.

Digital reading

Electronic books are electronic devices that can hold digital copies of books and can display them on a screen. They can hold many books at the same time and can even play audio files.

Electronic books are now widespread and many manufacturers add text to speech and the ability to enlarge text. Many devices are compatible with refreshable braille display allowing a person to read using their chosen braille system.

Most national newspapers have websites which have their main stories on and some also have apps on platforms like the iPad. These may then be made accessible by the screen readers built into computers or mobile phones.

What should I look for?

If you are looking for an electronic book then test the accessibility of menu systems as well as the book itself. If you can see the text of the book but cannot use the menu to download or select other books then that could pose a problem.

Possible stockists

Please note: the following list is not exhaustive and Sense is not responsible for the content of the external sites nor do we endorse the products mentioned.

Calibre
Insight Radio
National Talking Newspapers and Magazines
RNIB

Your local library service may also lend books in audio, braille and large print. Find your local library by visiting the Directgov website.

First published: Tuesday 22 May 2012
Updated: Thursday 3 April 2014