The tools that are designed to assist people who have special needs have come a long way, in large part due to computers. However, even the best designed tool isn’t going to be utilized if it doesn’t match up nicely with how the person lives. Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic understands. They recently released their entire library of audiobooks to be played on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.
The Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic organization has been around since 1948, and is a nonprofit organization. It helps more than 30,000 people, from kindergarteners through adults, who are unable to read standard print due to a special need. This could be because of blindness, a visual impairment, dyslexia, or any other disability. It has more than 64,000 textbooks and literature titles that have been recorded by more than 5,000 volunteers from all around the United States.
In the past, these audiobooks were available in the form of internet downloads, on CD, and through the use of various assistive devices. Members of Recording For Blind and Dyslexic had been asking for audiobooks that they could access through the iPad, iPhone, and the iPod touch, because those were the devices that they were using everyday. It makes sense to adapt the technology to the user, rather than to expect the person who has a special need to adapt to try and find a way to fit an outdated form of technology into their lifestyle.
A couple of months ago, the organization released a program for PC and Mac called ReadHear. It is software that enabled people to access the audiobooks from the Recording For the Blind and Dyslexic through their computers. This was a step in the right direction.
Recently, they released an app called RFBDAudio. The app costs $19.99, and you can get it from the iTunes store. You must have an Recording For the Blind and Dyslexic account in order to use it. The app has features like bookmarking, chapter and page navigation, last position playback, variable speed, and more. People who are blind or visually impaired can use the app with Apple’s VoiceOver technology.
The most exciting part is that the Recording For the Blind and Dyslexic Audio app is fully compatible with all iPad, iPhone 4 and 3GS models, and iPod touch second generation devices. The audiobooks can be downloaded through the iTunes store to a person’s computer, and the files can then be transferred to other devices.
A child who is struggling to read a chapter book because the print is too small, or because the child is dyslexic, could, potentially, listen to the book on an iPod instead. A college student who has special needs involving reading could access a textbook from his or her iPad, and be able to keep up with the rest of the class. It’s pretty amazing what technology can be used for.
Image by Yutaka Tsutano on Flickr