Reading on a computer and laptop

RNIB Bookshare titles can be used on a computer or laptop. They are great to be able to use with the access technology that a learner is already using. Here we look at the file formats available on RNIB Bookshare and give some thought to how this format could be used on a laptop.

Access or Assistive technology

What is it? Assistive technology (AT) is a broad term that refers to hardware and software that enable people with disabilities to access information or mainstream technology independently. Such as digital technology that reads text, such as screen readers, braille displays, speech recognition software. Someone with a print  disability may use various assistive technology to read on their computer in various formats.


Many RNIB Bookshare books can be downloaded in Word and read with any compatible editor or reading tool. This is a common, easy-to-use format that allows members to customize the book’s text to meet their reading needs. Charlie, one of our learner stories told us that he likes to use Word files on his laptop so that he can take notes at the same time on the word document.
Using whatever access technology your learner normally uses, this is a great file type to use. Read RNIB Bookshare books downloaded in Word.
As the most accessible file type Word files are a great way set up the appropriate accessibility and structure within a document and then modify it into braille, audio and other formats. Guidance on modifying Word files.


Many publishers provide their titles are accessible PDF files. These files can only be downloaded in a PDF format and can be used on laptops etc with learners usual access technology. The files will have varying degrees of accessibility depending on the individual publisher.
Alternatively, a PDF file can be used to create a structured Word file, and then into further alternative formats. To do this you will need specific software to be able to convert PDF’s into text.


If you want to be able to follow text to synthetic audio, then a DAISY file (Digital Accessible Information System) is a useful format that can be downloaded on RNIB Bookshare. It is a digital book file format that will usually work with just about every type of accessible technology Daisy players. Free software is available.


If you are downloading a Digital braille file, use it with the learners own refreshable braille devices and braille embossers. Visit the Braille Hub.

Dolphin Easyreader

This reading app is free to use on Apple iPads and iPhones, also on Android tablets and phones. It is the perfect way to access RNIB Bookshare. You can get EasyReader for Windows, although this is not free. You can try EasyReader for Windows free for 30 days by downloading it from the Microsoft Store, or get in touch with Dolphin for a free quote for using EasyReader at your school.

Charlie looking at text in large print on his laptop

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