For Patrons with Print Disabilities or Visual Impairment
The New York Public Library offers a variety of services for patrons with print disabilities or visual impairment. Find assistive technology, books and materials, and learn about the services we offer.
- Find assistive technologies in branches
- Check out books and materials
- Request digitized research materials
- Learn more about tutoring and technology training
Screenreader and Enlargers, and other software
Every public PC at all New York Public Library locations is equipped with JAWS screen reading software and MAGic software for enlarging the screen, changing colors and contrast, and screenreading.
MAGic® Screen Magnification Software
MAGic screen magnification software allows users to customize the computer's monitor view for ease of reading.
- Increase the size of content displayed on a monitor
- Add tinting to the screen
- Set the contents of screen to appear in monochrome
- Invert brightness and colors
- Switch the colors of the text and background
- Eliminate screen glare and boost contrast
- Can speak aloud screen content
JAWS Screen Reading Software
Developed for computer users whose vision loss prevents them from seeing screen content, JAWS reads aloud what's on the PC screen and allows for comprehensive keyboard interaction with the computer.
The Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library offers additional software, as well as coaching and workshops on using them:
- NVDA (NonVisual Desktop Access) screen reading software
- Talking Typing Teacher, for learning to type
- Duxbury braille translation software
- Kurzweil 1000 scanning and reading software
Personal Reading Machines
A device that scans printed text and reads aloud in synthetic speech. Available at:
- Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library
- Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture: Jean Blackwell Hutson Research and Reference Division (SARA scanning and reading machine.)
- Science, Industry and Business Library (Kurtzweil Reading Edge)
Closed-Circuit Television Enlargers (CCTVs)
A monitor that enlarges printed material 45-60 times. Available at:
- Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library
- Baychester Library (Optelec ClearView+ enlarger and contrast/color adjuster)
- Bronx Library Center (Merlin, MRLC D19/+ enlarger and contrast/color adjuster)
- Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, room 315 (Optelec ClearView+ enlarger and contrast/color adjuster)
- Mid-Manhattan Library, fourth floor
- New York Public Library for the Performing Arts (Optelec ClearView+ enlarger and contrast/color adjuster)
- Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture: Manuscripts, Archives, and Rare Books Division (Optelec ClearView+ enlarger and contrast/color adjuster)
- St. George Library Center
Other Devices at Andrew Heiskell Library
All of the following items are available at the Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library for patrons to use on site or to ask for an appointment to have coaching and training on by the Assistive Technology Department. Items with stars should be reserved ahead of time. For appointments to use starred equipment, or to request coaching or training, please call 212-621-0627 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Group workshops are ongoing as well.
- ClearView Plus CCTV with Speech, for reading with magnification and speech together. Other CCTVs available too.
- E.A.S.Y Tactile Drawing Tablet, for creating raised-line drawings*
- An iMac with voiceover, zoom, and dictation
- iPad and iPod touch with voiceover, zoom, and dictation*
- Abisee Ace, for reading hard copy material using magnification, speech, or braille*
- Victor Stream 2nd generation, for learning to download BARD books wirelessly*
- KNFB Reader, an app on iPod Touch that allows you to snap a picture of text and have it read out loud and/or magnified*
- Brailliant braille display, braille input and output for Mac, PC and, iOS devices*
- ScannR, a scanning machine that reads text aloud
- Juliet and VersaPoint Duo braille embossers
- National Braille Press titles for onsite reference via electronic text and screenreading, including Tweeting Blind, iOS Without the Eye, Getting the Picture (on blind photography), and more*
- Federally-provided iBill currency readers
*must be reserved ahead of time
The Andrew Heiskell Library provides free access to over 50,000 professionally-narrated titles in talkingbook, braille, or digital formats for people who are blind, visually impaired, physically disabled, or who have a biologically-based reading disability such as dyslexia. Patrons can have a talkingbooks machine and titles sent free to their home, download titles to keep from our website, or access them through a free app for iOS and Android. You can get reference help or order books through our hotline, email account, or 24-hour voicemail to 212-206-5425.
NYPL also provides free access for eligible patrons to Bookshare's 400,000 accessible ebooks / e-audiobooks that can be read from a computer or mobile device. The wide variety of titles are read aloud with synthetic speech and provide simultaneous highlighted text on screen. Learn more and sign up.
A circulating beginning braille collection is available to anyone with a New York Public Library card. Pre-braille and early braille literacy items such as braille labelers, pattern matching games, and embossed alphabet cards are also available to teachers and families.
The Library also offers:
- Large Type Books
- e-NYPL: Collection of downloadable media, including audiobooks and music. Available online.
- Video Recordings for People with Visual Disabilities: Descriptive videos and DVDs contain added audio tracks describing on-screen action for blind and visually impaired viewers
Researchers who are homebound or have a print disability or visual impairment can explore many of our research collections online and request digitization of specific items of interest. To request the digitization service, email email@example.com.
The Andrew Heiskell Library offers individual coaching and a large variety of group workshops on topics related to accessible technology. Check the listings on our website or our latest newsletter for details, or call 212-206-5400. It also hosts many networking groups, resource fairs, writing workshops, accessible art workshops, bookclubs, and other events. All are listed in the quarterly newsletter which is available in Large Print, Spanish, braille, email, website with audio version, or over the phone.
Children and teens getting services from the Andrew Heiskell Library can enroll in our adapted Summer Reading Program that uses titles in accessible formats and allows youth to participate remotely, talk to a librarian about books over the phone, and get accessible prizes.