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E-books 'much more accessible' for blind people

E-book accessibility for readers with sight loss has increased by nearly 40% in the last two years.

A report by the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) has revealed that 84% of the top 1,000 best-selling e-books in 2012 could be read by partially-sighted people, up from 45% in 2010.

The charity said the increase was down to the explosion of new digital devices in the market, such as e-readers and smart phones, which allow readers to increase the font size of a text, enable text-to-speech delivery or read via an electronic braille display.

However, the RNIB has criticised the volume of print books which are accessible to partially sighted people on the run-up to Read for RNIB Day on 11th October. When e-books are taken out of the equation, the charity said, only 0.23% of the most popular books are accessible to people with sight loss.

The RNIB’s director of inclusive society Fazilet Hadi said: “In 2009, none of the most popular books were available as accessible e-books and we’re delighted with the progress that has been made…However, there is still a lot of work to be done.

"Many people with sight loss can’t use e-books because of a lack of awareness, cost or ease of use, and RNIB will continue to champion mainstream and specialist access to books, such as through our National Library Service…The overall number of accessible books is still frustratingly low.”

The charity is urging individuals and business to take part in Read for RNIB day. For more information, visit www.readforrnib.org.uk.