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Visually Impaired Program

Apps For The Visually Impaired And Blind

A number of innovative companies have developed very useful mobile device applications for people who are visually impaired or blind.

You can download them from iTunes (for iOS devices) or Google Play (for Android devices). Here's a partial list:

KNFB Reader. This app enables a visually impaired person to take a photo of any printed document — including mail, receipts, memos and many other documents — and the phone will read it aloud.

TapTapSee. This app utilizes the mobile device's camera and voice over functions to photograph objects and identify them out loud for the user.

VizWiz. This app allows visually impaired and blind individuals to receive quick answers to questions about their surroundings. VizWiz users take a picture with their phone, ask a question, and then receive spoken answers from people recruited from their social network or from anonymous web workers.

LookTel Money Reader. This app allows blind and visually impaired individuals to know the value of the paper money they are holding. The app recognizes the bills and immediately speaks the denomination, enabling users to quickly identify and count their cash.

Childhood Vision Impairment

While the number of children with vision loss and blindness is relatively low in comparison with the number of older people with vision loss, the impact as measured in disability adjusted life years ranks childhood blindness second only to cataract on the global burden of eye disease and one of the five priority areas of the World Health Organization’s “Vision 2020—the right to sight” program. Vision impairment, both low vision and blindness, compromises quality of life. Impaired vision from birth or in early childhood can have a profound impact on an infant’s or child’s development, restricting participation in social, physical and educational and, later, employment opportunities.

When should my child be checked?

Vision loss can be caused by damage to the eye itself, by the eye being shaped incorrectly, or even by a problem in the brain. Babies can be born unable to see, and vision loss can occur anytime during a person’s life.

  • newborn to 3 months
  • 6 months to 1 year
  • about 3 years
  • about 5 years

Having your child’s vision checked is especially important if someone in your family has had vision problems.

Definition Of "Visually Impaired"

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines visual impairment as the condition when "a person's eyesight cannot be corrected to a 'normal' level."

Resources for the visually impaired include modified eye exams performed by a low vision specialist.

According to CDC, vision impairment may be due to a loss of visual acuity, where the eye does not see objects as clearly as usual, or a loss of visual field, where the eye has a diminished field of view (reduced peripheral vision).

When caused by reduced visual acuity (VA), CDC defines visual impairment as "having VA of 20/40 or less."

In the U.S., most states require drivers to have 20/40 vision or better. So a person classified as visually impaired may or may not be eligible for a driver's license, depending on the state he or she lives in.

Here is a partial list of organizations that provide information and services for the visually impaired, people with low vision and the blind:

Envision is a national nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve the quality of life and provide inspiration for the blind and visually impaired through employment, outreach, rehabilitation, education and research. Envision also promotes advocacy and independence for those who are blind or partially sighted. Founded in 1933 in Wichita, Kansas, Envision is one of the largest employers of individuals with vision loss in the nation. You can learn more about Envision at

The National Library Service (NLS) for the Blind and Physically Handicapped is one of the largest resources for adapting printed material for use by people who are visually impaired or blind. Through a national network of cooperating libraries, NLS administers a free library program of Braille and audio materials to eligible borrowers in the United States via postage-free mail. Learn more at

The American Council of the Blind (ACB) is one of the nation's largest membership organizations for the blind and visually impaired. ACB has affiliate offices in nearly every state and in the District of Columbia. Learn more at

The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) is an advocacy and service group for the blind and visually impaired that has more than 50,000 members. NFB has offices in every state and has local chapters in many communities. Learn more at

VisionAware is a free, easy-to-use website sponsored by the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) and Reader's Digest Partners for Sight Foundation. It offers a robust state-by-state directory of services for the visually impaired. Learn more at

Libraries for the Blind and School Resources

American Printing House for the Blind  The world's largest nonprofit organization creating educational, workplace, and independent living products and services for people who are visually impaired. Provides textbooks and educational materials for legally blind students.

Bookshare is an Accessible Online Library for people with print disabilities. You can download free books, Braille books, and tools for people who are blind or visually impaired. This service is only free to students, otherwise it's $50 per year.

Top 100 Picture Books with Image Descriptions in Bookshare  Educators and parents know how important books are for the earliest readers. Getting kids "hooked on books" through the classic bedtime picture book has profound effects on lifetime literacy, both from how a child learns to read, to how a child perceives themselves as being part of the world of books. To get started, browse through the Top 100 Picture Books and search for your favorite characters such as Curious George, Frog and Toad, Harold and his purple crayon, Madeline, and Peter Rabbit. Then log in, select a book, get comfortable, and click on Read Now to enjoy one of your favorites in Bookshare Web Reader.

The Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind  Promotes all phases of education and employment for all ages who are blind and visually impaired. Support for professionals who provide education and rehabilitation services to people with visual impairments.

National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped  NLS administers a free library program consisting of a national network of cooperating libraries, providing Braille and audio materials circulated to eligible borrowers in the United States by postage-free mail.

Learning Ally for the Blind and Dyslexic  Learning Ally is a volunteer, nonprofit organization that provides literature and textbooks in a digital audio format to people who cannot effectively read standard print because of visual impairment, dyslexia, or other physical disability.

Paths to Literacy  is a site for students who are blind or visually impaired. This site is about assistive technology for people who are blind and is a valuable resource for information and links for blind students.

Advocacy for the Blind

Support Links

Agencies for the Blind

Where do children who are blind or visually impaired go to school?