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Reading resources for older people with visual impairment

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Adopting simple techniques to support older people with visual impairment can be life-changing.

As the old saying goes, "You don't know what you've got until it's gone", and the ability to read is a prime example of this.

Until your sight begins to fade, you can't truly appreciate the ways in which you use this skill each day for entertainment, information and much more.

Older people with visual impairment still need to engage with a wide variety of written texts, such as:

  • Official papers (bills, notices, contracts etc.)
  • Signage (directional and cautionary)
  • Instructions
  • Newspapers, novels and non-fiction

With this in mind, we've come up with a list of recommended techniques and resources you can use to make reading a reality again for older people with visual impairment.

Try these techniques to help older people with visual impairment

These are just a few useful options:

1) Improved lighting

Helping older people with visual impairment to read again could be as simple as improving the lighting in their home.

If you think this might help, replace standard light bulbs with daylight bulbs, position floor lamps safely in darker spaces and try using a portable magnifying light to enlarge smaller text.

Ensure the lighting solutions are bright, while avoiding unnecessary glare.

2) Large-print documents

The government has instructed all its departments to use large-print for official documents.

The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) has also produced extensive guidance on this topic, which many private companies use to make their documents accessible.

Large-print (16 point+) is the most common option. However, the RNIB Library also produces text in giant-print (24 point). A specialist font ('Tiresias') is often used to further improve readability.

Request paper documents in large-print, wherever possible. If you're using a device with a screen, you can simply zoom in or adjust the settings for large-print text.

3) Text-readers/audio books

Older people with visual impairment may prefer an audio-based solution, especially for longer texts.

Most computers are now equipped with text-readers, and you can usually download text-reading software for devices that aren't.

Programmes such as these read out the text displayed on screens. You can even scan paper documents and have them read aloud by the computer.

If your loved one enjoys reading for entertainment, audio books could be a good solution. Most major texts are now available from sites such as Amazon and Audible.

You can simply download them onto your loved one's digital device for them to play back at their leisure.

4) Braille

Braille is often applicable in cases where a person has lost most, or all, of their sight.

Older people with visual impairment would need to learn how to read braille. However, this could help make the world around them much more accessible.

Today, braille can be used for more than just paper documents. New technology allows people to type with braille, or sense it from a digital screen.

Many government documents are already available in braille. Private companies are increasingly adopting braille, too.

Use these simple techniques to help older people with visual impairment regain independence and engage with the world around them.

Find out more about how live-in care can help support older people with visual impairment by speaking with the friendly team at The Good Care Group.

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