Other formats for people with a visual impairment or who are blind
Braille is used by a small number of blind people. It is a system of raised dots that blind and partially sighted people read by touch. It is suitable for circumstances where the information will not date quickly or where the information needs to be reviewed or memorised
It is important to find out which grade of Braille the person would like, as there are two grades of braille. Grade 1 is a straightforward letter for letter translation from print and includes the alphabet, numbers and punctuation marks. Grade 2 additionally has special signs for combinations of letters together with a shorthand system, which reduces the size of braille documents by about 25 per cent, and generally increases reading speed. There are special codes for music, mathematics and foreign languages.
When getting text converted into Braille - to avoid confusion, you may need to make some formatting changes to your document before you send it for transcription. We recommend that you:
- remove columns and put the text into paragraphs instead
- ensure all text is left justified
- describe diagrams
- use the tab key to indent sub-headings by one level and main headings by two levels
- avoid bullet points as there is no Braille equivalent.
Braille can reproduce italics.
See the RNIB website for more information about Braille and see our contacts page for more information on who can provide Braille formats
A standard computer can be adapted by adding a screen reader, which enables the computer to ‘talk’. The screen reader will speak the text that is finds and the user navigates through menus, dialog boxes, edit fields and so on. The computer is controlled by a standard keyboard using key combinations called keyboard shortcuts, instead of a mouse. Some people also use a Braille display, which provides information on the screen on a tactile display, which sits underneath the keyboard.
- Speech output software: These are intended for home use and are designed to be easier to and/or cheaper than other screen readers. They are usually designed for access to word processing, Internet and email facilities.
Text-to-speech programs: A screen reader differs from a text-to-speech program in its flexibility and price. While text-to-speech programs are cheaper, they are restricted in what they allow to be read back from the screen and may not provide complete access to a PC for a blind user.
More information about the types of software available
Many people like to have information on audio, always check if they would prefer a tape or CD. People with learning disabilities tend to find an audio copy useful to help them understand information. Remember that the recording will need to be of a publication that is in Plain English.
See our contacts page for more information on who can provide audio copies
Articles for the Blind
The Royal Mail Articles for the Blind scheme enables blind and partially sighted people to send certain items of post within the UK and overseas free of charge. The service means you:
- can send any items created for use by the blind - this includes national and local societies for blind and partially sighted people and organisations producing Talking Newspapers/Tape Magazines etc.
- Available to organisations and individuals working with blind and partially sighted people mailing items specifically prepared for use by blind/visually impaired individuals.
- Free of charge
- UK and overseas service
More information is available on the Royal Mail website