No Longer Seeing but Still Reading

A few years ago my mother-in-law was diagnosed with age related Macular Degeneration.  As an avid, lifetime reader she is obviously frustrated with this condition.  When reading regular print books became impossible she began reading large print books.  However, after a time even those became difficult to read.  A younger relative bought her a tablet and loaded an e-reader on it.  With some assistance and practice she’s downloaded some books and increased the size of the print.  She’s enjoyed reading several books in that format.  However, the tablet has since “died” and with her vision growing worse, she is reluctant to get a new one.

On a visit earlier this year I put the link to LibriVox via archive.org on her desktop, then showed her how to find books and authors that she might like.  She enjoyed listening to some short stories and looking for books.  However, even with a large monitor with items magnified on the screen, failing eyesight has made using that computer difficult.

However, showing her the LibriVox link reminded her that many years ago one of her elderly relatives used to receive records of books from a blind association – probably a state branch of the American Association for the Blind.  That reminder prompted her to ask her doctor about the availability of books for the blind.  The doctor put her on the program and in a few days she received an audio book device made especially for the blind and vision impaired.  Included were Braille, large print and audio instructions for using the device, how to order and return books, plus a few books already loaded on the device.  She was also given the means of letting the association know which authors, books and types of books she liked.

In a short time she was ordering books, receiving items in the mail that should appeal to her taste in reading, and thoroughly enjoying the experience of reading through listening.  Since receiving the device she has listened to several books, and plans to make a significant contribution to the association because of this particular service.

I’ve known people younger than my mother-in-law who have been confronted with major changes to their lives, among them unexpected handicaps.  Some have accepted these changes and are adjusting their lifestyles as needed.  Others haven’t been so accepting and are living in the past, or hoping for medical breakthroughs that are probably many years away.  Oh well, we all have different ways of coping with the bumps and barricades in life’s road.  I hope my eyes remain healthy and I won’t ever be confronted with a disease like Macular Degeneration.  However, if anything like that ever does happen to me, I’ll remember my mother-in-law’s determination and willingness to adjust to the change and follow her example.  Even though I may not be able to see anymore I’ll still continue to enjoy the pleasure of reading.

As a sort of “P.S.” to this blog, I wondered which other countries provide reading material for the blind and visually impaired.  The following from the archive.org website has some information on this.  https://blog.archive.org/2016/07/12/unlocking-books-for-the-blind-and-visually-impaired/

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3 thoughts on “No Longer Seeing but Still Reading

  1. My dad has lost his vision in his left eye due to glaucoma, so he can sympathise. He, too, is a lifelong avid reader who now struggles with the print size in most books. He can’t make out the small print in paperbacks at all, uses a magnifying glass on regular hardcovers, but gets so much eyestrain that he can only handle a short chapter at a time. Lately I’ve been looking for large-print books when I bring him things from the library, but the large-print selection is only a fraction of the library. A lot of his favorite mystery authors are available in audiobook format, but they tend to be only their most recent books. Older stuff isn’t commercial enough, and he likes older stuff. So LibriVox is right up his alley. He has been a LibriVox listener for a few years now, loves the Stevenson, Poe, Doyle, H.G Wells, lots of his other favorites are there.

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    • Maria,

      Does your dad use an e-reader or a tablet with an e-reader program? They are good because of the ability to make the print larger. Also a lot of the newer ones can adjust the lighting on the screen. Gutenberg probably has a lot of books that your dad would enjoy reading in large print on an e-reader that LibriVoxers haven’t had a chance to record yet.

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      • My dad is not a fan of reading off a “device”. A friend of mine gave us her old Kindle when she got a new one, thinking my dad might like it, but he found it incredibly frustrating and inconvenient to use, and wanted nothing more to do with it. He likes “real paper books”, so I look for the large print when available. But he does like audio technology, and enjoys listening to audiobooks. Since we have always read books out loud around our house, listening to a book seems quite normal to him, and the technology isn’t such a distancing element.

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