• Reading App, Books for Visually Impaired Students

    Feb. 08, 2017

    Visually impaired U.S. students may receive access to a free assisted-reading app with more than half a million e-books through a new American Academy of Ophthalmology collaboration.

    Students who participate in the program must meet the eligibility requirements and be certified as having low vision by an ophthalmologist. They then will receive access to Spotlight Gateway, an e-reading application made available on iPads.

    The app's special functions include high-quality, text-to-speech voices, digital braille, and enlarged fonts. Bookshare offers the largest online library of accessible e-books for people with print reading disabilities.

    If you are a student interested in the program, talk to an American Academy of Ophthalmology member ophthalmologist, who will certify visual acuity less than 20/40 or partial loss of vision and refer you into the program. The Academy offers information about low-vision for patients in the EyeSmart section of AAO.org.

    And as the world's largest association of eye physicians and surgeons, the Academy encourages ophthalmologists, in their support of visually impaired patients, to refer affected individuals to services that may lessen the impact of their low vision and improve their overall quality of life.

    Lighthouse Guild, a nonprofit health care and vision organization, and Bookshare are collaborating with the American Academy of Ophthalmology on this new program.

    During February, 2017 – Low Vision Awareness Month – Lighthouse Guild in New York and LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired in San Francisco distributed a limited number of iPads to eligible students. This portion of the program has now ended. The app is still available for use by eligible participants on their own devices.