The Bible is the best-selling book in the world. It is comprised of about 750,000 words and yet to pick it up, it doesn’t seem much larger than a typical novel. There are two innovations which bring about this phenomenon: extremely thin paper and extremely small print! Unfortunately, both of these present challenges for people with sight loss.
People with only a small amount of vision loss may try to read the Bible with a magnifier, however, paper as thin as that used in the Bible can sometimes develop a degree of transparency, which may cause difficulties to a person with sight loss. The layout is often very compact and complex, with little distinction between the text and its footnotes and as a magnifier shows only a very small area at a time a person with sight loss is likely to become lost.
Large Print Bible
Torch Trust has transcribed the entire New International Version (2011 edition) and New International Readers Version in very large print (20pt, 25pt or 30pt). Other translations of the Bible have been produced in large print by mainstream publishers but they are generally printed at 14pt or 16pt which are often not large enough for people with significant sight loss.
The large print Bibles from Torch Trust use a RNIB designed font, Tiresias, and are printed on heavier weight paper with a clear and spacious layout.
Of course, this format occupies a lot of space. The 20pt NIV edition comes in 28 A4 volumes which is not easy to carry along to church with you. However, when people first experience sight loss, the ability to read is one of the things they miss most and for many, a large print Bible is a real encouragement.
Braille Bibles are available in the United Kingdom from suppliers including Torch Trust and RNIB. There are also several suppliers of braille Bibles in the United States, some of which can be posted free of charge internationally via the Articles for the Blind scheme.
The biggest disadvantage of a braille Bible is its size, produced in 35-40 volumes, taking up nearly six feet of shelf space! Many braille readers take comfort in reading their braille Bibles and when reading aloud in church, braille is often more fluent than other methods.
Audio is by far the most compact Bible format for a person with sight loss. The most famous audio version is the NIV read by David Suchet, which is available to buy on MP3 and CD or via online audio book retailers such as Audible.
One of the biggest shortcomings of conventional audio is that it is hard to find the chapter and verse that you want to listen to. Some people with sight loss may have access to a DAISY player, an enhanced audio system which allows navigation by book, chapter or verse. Torch Trust makes David Suchet’s recording available in DAISY format and we can provide advice on obtaining a suitable player. We offer two dedicated audio Bible players: the Megavoice (Old and New Testament) and the Pathway (New Testament).
Many people with sight loss can use computers, smartphones and tablets very effectively with specialist software either enlarging the text on the screen or speaking it aloud.
Websites such as biblegateway.com are excellent for locating a specific passage of the Bible and comparing various translations. They are compatible with the specialist software described above and when combined with a dedicated braille printer or braille display, can be used to produce readings in braille for use in church.
On smartphones and tablets, the YouVersion app provides a very accessible way for people with sight loss to read the Bible and engage with Bible study materials. YouVersion is also available on Amazon Alexa and Google Home smart speakers and can be used to play David Suchet’s reading of the NIV.
For more information or for advice tailored to the specific needs of an individual with sight loss, please call us on 01858 438260, email email@example.com or visit our website at www.torchtrust.org
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