The Women’s Prize Trust is committed to ensuring that all readers have access to the best contemporary fiction and non-fiction by women, and are very proud to work with RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People) to provide free, accessible-format versions of our annual prize longlists.

Here, Lynne Livingstone from RNIB talks about the impact of lockdown on people with sight loss, and how RNIB provided vital support via their remarkable RNIB Reading Services, which offers different ways for those with sight loss to enjoy the latest books.

“RNIB Reading Services are delighted to be able to offer a selection of books from the Women’s Prize in braille and audio. Thanks to the Women’s Prize team we receive the digital files of the books which enable us to turn them into braille or audio with greater ease.

The pandemic has highlighted the need for reading more than ever. While RNIB lobbied to help people with sight loss have safe access to supermarkets or obtain food deliveries, RNIB Reading Services worked hard to meet the increased demands for reading materials. During lockdown books provided sanctuary, from the daily news and stimulation for people deprived of company.

The first lockdown coincided with the new RNIB Online Reading Service, which allowed customers to choose and download books in audio. While the Library Service extended itself to cope with the increased demand for Talking Books on CD and USB, many people discovered the delights of instant reading on their devices. We have over 32,000 books available to download in audio, providing something for every reading taste. In the past year, over 1,300 000 Talking Books have been read by our customers.

A few months later we added the ground-breaking new format of downloadable braille to the online experience. You can download braille books and read them on an electronic braille display, such as the Orbit Reader 20. And from April 2021, our Braille Library service will be improved to offer braille books produced on demand, giving our readers access to a larger collection of books via home delivery. Books will never be out of stock, allowing lots of readers to request the same book at the same time, which is ideal for readers who want to access the Women’s Prize nominees.

RNIB also supports academic reading. RNIB Bookshare UK education collection provides textbooks and materials to support the UK curriculum. We offer a range of accessible formats that can be read electronically or adapted to suit the personal reading needs of students.

RNIB Bookshare is thrilled to promote this year’s Women’s Prize for Fiction longlist, with the full list of titles available to download in an accessible electronic version from the service allowing equal access to these titles for learners with a print disability.

If you’re struggling to read because of your sight, we’ve got plenty of solutions to help. The RNIB Reading Services are completely free.”

If you need any help with sight loss, please call RNIB Helpline on 0303 123 9999. Or alternatively, say “Alexa, call RNIB Helpline” This simple voice command, spoken to an Alexa-enabled device, will take you straight to assistance.

RNIB is a charity and your donations enable them to maintain and develop services. You can make a general donation to RNIB or give specifically to the library here.