Reading Sight by Share the Vision

Reading Sight by Share the Vision

2011 Digital Access Online Commendation

Exemplary qualities

This is one the first visually attractive websites promoting library services for visually impaired people.

It embraces video, podcasts, blogs and social media to voice the reader experiences of blind and partially sighted people and to make reading attractive.

The site offers front-line library staff easy access to the information and tools they need to support visually impaired people make personalised their personalised reading choices.

A lovely detail: Reading Sight quotes the greatest ever visually impaired champion of reading, Literature Nobel Prize Winner Jorge Louis Borges, third visually impaired Director of the Argentine National Library: “I always thought of Paradise as a Library … . ”

The project

One in eight people in the UK finds it difficult or impossible to access reading in alternative formats. ‘Reading Sight’ is a collaborative, cross-sector project that promotes use of the collections of accessible material, enabling readers to find books in alternative formats, join libraries and participate in reading groups and activities. They can also be inspired and motivated by other people with sight loss who continue to enjoy reading, contribute content to the site (video, audio and text) and keep up-to-date with new developments.

The site provides a quick and easy link to the key organisations and resource collections for librarians, teachers, parents, care workers and anyone who supports people with sight loss. It has also developed into a resource for visually impaired people themselves; a virtual community space to share the joys of reading and get support on reading with sight loss.

Within the site ‘Your Reading Choices’ is a tool to help people find places where they can get books, newspapers and magazines in formats other than standard print. An easy and quick to use questionnaire produces a Personal Reading Plan that identifies the services and organisations that have accessible collections suitable to individual needs and interests.

‘Young Reading Lives’ is a series of videos, podcasts and blog posts designed to help young blind and partially sighted people and the parents, librarians, teachers and voluntary workers who support them. Videos show young people telling their reading stories. We see them using the alternative formats and watch how reading can be a powerful part of their lives.

The videos are complemented by audio podcasts and blog entries that give a summary of the main things covered in the films, including links to key organisations and accessible collections.
In the adult ‘Reading Lives’ section blind and partially sighted people talk about the importance of reading in their lives, plus information about the technology and services that help them get the books they need. Users of Reading Sight can upload their own personal ‘reading life’ as video, podcast or blog.

The project cost £30,000. RNIB contributed the equivalent of £20,000 in staff time to the project.
The original Reading Sight was funded from a combination of support from RNIB, Share the Vision funds and a grant from the Ulverscroft Foundation.

The new Reading Sight went live on 20 September 2011.

Other activities

Share the Vision (STV) was founded in 1989 with the object of bringing together public and voluntary sector library services and other library organisations to improve access to library services for blind and partially sighted people.

Accessible collections and services that provide activities and events for blind and print disabled people are at the core of Share the Vision’s purpose. STV is committed to providing information and advice to public and voluntary sector library services, developing and recommending policy and strategies, identifying and encouraging best practice, supporting collaboration and networking within and between sectors and influencing library organisations and other stakeholders.


The priority in the redesign of Reading Sight has been to involve people with sight loss in creating content and providing further opportunities for them to make contributions to the site and engage with other blind and partially sighted people through the website.

Print disabled people tell their own stories in their own voice.
Sight disabled people speaking directly about their reading experiences is proving to be very powerful.
All the participants in the video and audio recording have said how much they enjoyed taking part and were pleased to give their time to help other visually impaired people.

Reading Sight is a great example of collaboration across the public and voluntary sectors. In its new form, the site is a pleasure to use. It will enable visually impaired people to get a better range of reading services and demonstrate to library and reading service providers what can be done to make their services even better.
Pete Osborne, Chair of the Right to Read Alliance,

The future

STV will be working hard to ensure the new redesigned site is well used, especially by blind and partially sighted people and continually adapted so that it will always be on the leading edge. A high profile launch in the House of Lords will engage with government, key national agencies and national media.

The designated Six Step Champions in all public libraries will be asked to promote the site to colleagues in schools, learning and care services.

The Reading Agency will help promote the site and its use to its large constituency, including publishers.

Authors specifically mentioned in the clips of Young Reading Lives and Reading Lives will be asked to promote the right to read for people with sight loss.