Blind People Reading Print They Can’t See? There’s an App for That!

The following was originally posted on the Blind With Vision blog.

Submitted by Brian Mackey, NFBI Webmaster.

I am a legally blind individual with an eye condition called Bardet Biedl Syndrome and have difficulty reading printed materials. Typically, I read using electronic magnifiers such as a Close Circuit TV or Freedom Scientific’s Ruby magnifier. But, these have downsides. A CCTV, especially a desktop version, is not portable, and the Ruby, though it’s portable, is generally for quick reading and it is just one more item for the user to carry with them.

Now, thanks to the advances of mobile technology, there is another way! The National Federation of the Blind has made the dream of reading print for blind, visually impaired, and print-disabled individuals into a reality with the KNFB Reader, a fast, accurate, and easy to use app for an iOS or Android smartphone or tablet. You can now also use KNFB Reader on any Windows 10 computer, phone, or tablet. The KNFB Reader mobile app reads print aloud and can be used to read just about any printed material accurately and almost instantly.

It’s so easy. You simply take a photo of the words with your mobile device, and the app reads these aloud with high quality text-to-speech through optical character recognition (OCR). The KNFB Reader has tilt guidance and a field of view report to tell you if you are getting the right photo. It doesn’t matter if you can see that you have the whole page in range or even if it happens to be upside-down. Talk about the miracles of technology!

The KNFB Reader app is really a great tool. I have used it to read my pay stubs and the printed mailing addresses on envelopes. KNFB Reader reads the text flawlessly. I first use the field of view report to make sure I have as much of the document captured as possible, then take a picture. You can also use the tilt guidance feature to make sure the camera is level with the document. If you are scanning a lot of documents, I recommend purchasing a stand to rest the phone or tablet on. The National Federation of the Blind’s Independence Market sells one for $12. We all have smartphones with us all the time these days, so this app gives you the ability to independently read printed material wherever you are, which is very convenient!

The KNFB Reader can be used to read bills, class handouts, PowerPoint presentations, business cards, song listings on CD cases, books, and so much more. The original device, which was invented in the 1970s by Ray Kurzweil, was the size of a kitchen freezer and it was not portable! Now it is portable and can be downloaded onto any device.

The KNFB Reader is available for Apple, Android, and Windows 10 devices for varying prices. You can visit the Apple AppStore, the Google PlayStore, or the Microsoft Windows app store to find current pricing. The manual for KNFB is posted on the home page of the National Federation of the Blind of New Jersey,, and the National Federation of the Blind of Illinois, The manual is also available within the app itself. Step-by-step instruction videos can be viewed at If you have any questions regarding KNFB, please direct them to the KNFB Reader Liaison for Illinois, Pattie Chang, at 773-307-6440 or

You can live the life you want with KNFB Reader!

Some of the above material originated from

Please download the KNFB Reader from:

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2017 Student Spring Seminar

The Illinois Association of Blind Students, the student chapter of the National Federation of  the Blind of Illinois, presents a 2017 Student Spring Seminar:


This year’s student seminar will be a full day of current and vital content for blind student success in education and life. We’ll have presentations by experts in topics of high interest to blind students, an engaging student panel, interactive workshops, energizing physical activity and more. This is a prime chance to network and share knowledge with blind students and professionals from near and far. The seminar will also include lunch and loads of valuable resources.

Here is what you want to know:


If you are a blind or low vision student, or you want to know more about and be a part of blind student life, this is your seminar!


Saturday, April 22nd, 2017


Holiday Inn Midway
6624 S. Cicero Ave.
Chicago, IL 60638

To reserve your hotel room, call 708-563-6490. Tell the hotel you are booking with the National Federation of the Blind of Illinois for the special rate of $129 per night (plus tax).


The Seminar costs only $15 per person. Financial assistance may be available for attendees outside Chicagoland through the NFBI Chappell-Dennis Memorial fund. Please apply by April 1,2017.


Please register at the National Federation of the Blind of Illinois website. The registration form can be found at


Registration ends April 14, 2017.


Special requests and questions should be directed to Emma Meyer at: or 815-735-4714. Sign up to our free listservs (IL-Talk and IABS-Talk) at for updates and info (or to post questions or comments).

In the National Federation of the Blind, Blind Americans work together to break down barriers so that we can live the lives we want.

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2017 NFB National Scholarship Applications Now Available

The National Federation of the Blind Scholarship Committee is now accepting scholarship applications from November 1, 2016 to March 31, 2017. This annual program offers thirty scholarships worth from $3,000 to $12,000 to eligible students, from high school seniors beginning their freshman year in the fall semester of 2017 up through graduate students working on their PhD degrees. These merit scholarships are based on academic excellence, community service, and leadership. In addition to the money, each winner will receive assistance to attend the 2017 NFB annual convention in Orlando, Florida, held during the week of July 10th through 15th, providing an excellent opportunity for high-level networking with active blind persons in many different professions and occupations. Go to for complete rules and requirements.

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Announcing New NFBI Webmaster

After the resignation of Webmaster Byron Lee, we did a search through the NFBNet listservs for his successor.

I am proud to announce that the new webmaster for NFBI is Brian Mackey of New Jersey. Brian currently serves as NFBNJ affiliate treasurer and webmaster. Earlier this year, he along with the NJ Website Committee completely rebuilt their website on the WordPress platform.

Brian is also the proud owner of Mackey Enterprises, LLC, which assists individuals, small businesses, and nonprofits with their personal and business related data entry, bookkeeping, and website projects. Prior to rebuilding the NFBNJ website, he built his company website,

We thank Brian for taking this on for us and look forward to seeing what improvements he will make to our site.

Denise Avant
President, National Federation of the Blind of Illinois


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