Blind and partially sighted people can now get instant access to the Royal National Institute of Blind People’s (RNIB) Talking Books, by asking Alexa.
Customers have previously been able to listen the audio books through RNIB’s library services, but they can now access them instantly by saying ‘Alexa, open RNIB Talking Books”.
The Talking Books service has been described by many users as a ‘lifeline’ during the pandemic, with 1.33 million Talking Books sent out in the last year.
David Clarke, director of Services at RNIB, said: “We are extremely pleased to announce that Talking Books customers can now access the 34,000 books in the RNIB Library by asking Alexa. RNIB’s Talking Books library is 86 years-old yet continues to adapt to the changing landscape of how our library users want to read their books.
“There are some great advantages to accessing your Talking Books this way. If you start a book but don’t like it, you can immediately choose another one rather than waiting for your next book to arrive in the post.
“Voice activated technology is bringing us closer to a world where blind and partially sighted people can consume books on a level playing field with sighted people.”
Dennis Stansbury, Alexa UK Country Manager, said: “We love hearing feedback about how customers use Alexa throughout their day. We are delighted that customers can now access thousands of Talking Books by simply asking Alexa, alongside setting reminders, listening to music and creating shopping lists.”
Users will be able to search by book title, author and key word. RNIB will continue to provide Talking Books in the traditional USB and CD format, and customers can still access RNIB advice and support services including Tech for Life.
The Talking Books service has revolutionised reading for people with sight loss since it launched in 1935 to help soldiers who had been blinded in the First World War and were struggling to learn braille.
The first ever Talking Book created was Harper Collins’ The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie.