The written word is a powerful tool for communication. For hundreds of years, the primary means of accessing written information has been ink-printed paper in bound books. Unfortunately, for many people, these books might as well not exist because the person has a disability that prevents handling or reading standard print books. Over the past century and a half, technology has improved the accessibility of books for people with a variety of disabilities. An accessible book can be:
1. Large print for people with low vision
2. An embossed paper braille book
3. An audio recording of a human reading the book stored on a record, tape, CD or other digital format
4. An electronic text/ebook version, including digital braille files
Common disabilities that affect the ability to read standard print books:
1. Blindness or visual impairment
2. Neurological problems caused by brain injury, stroke, epilepsy or other brain diseases
3. Learning disabilities like dyslexia
4. Physical impairments that affect the ability to hold books, turn pages, control eye or head movements
Although commercially produced audiobooks and ebooks can be purchased by anyone, some countries have government-run library systems specifically for blind or otherwise print-disabled people that include books that are not available commercially in accessible formats.
Nonprofit agencies may also distribute materials. Some are specialized, such as religious or political groups, and some provide reading material of more general interest.