NCBI launches Bookshare Ireland – creating equity of access

On thursday 14th November 2019, National Council for the Blind of Ireland (NCBI) launched Bookshare Ireland which is the country’s largest digital accessible library.

Bookshare Ireland is specifically designed to support students with a visual impairment and print disabilities attending higher or further education by providing instantaneous access to over 500,000 academic books and other materials, in the student’s preferred format (DAISY Audio, DAISY with images, digital braille, PDF and Word). For the first time ever, this guarantees equity of access to the curriculum with their sighted peers.

Chris White, NCBI CEO said “we are acutely aware that studying in third level with sight loss is a huge challenge, obtaining books and information in accessible formats should not be an additional barrier to achievement for students with a visual impairment in higher and further education. Through using, these students will no longer be at a disadvantage but instead be able to embrace and thrive in 3rd level education like their peers as the books and resources they need will be available to them. It will also hopefully lead to an increase in the number of students with a visual impairment attending 3rd level as it is chronically low at 1.8% of the student population.

Ivan O’Brien, Managing Director of O’Brien Press said “O’Brien Press is thrilled to be a part of NCBI as it is cutting edge and inclusive. Ensuring that people with print disabilities can have rapid access to the broadest possible range of reading material, whether for work, study or pleasure, is really important. Now students can read and learn from over 300 O’Brien Press publications on their computers, tablet, smartphones, assistive technology devices, and more.”

Rosie Bissett, CEO, Dyslexia Association of Ireland added "given one in ten people have some form of dyslexia, we are delighted to be part of the initiative. It means students with dyslexia will be on par with all other students, thereby empowering them to reach their potential."

Aoife Watson, recent NUIM graduate with sight loss added “I absolutely loved my time in university but it was extra challenging for me as the books I needed were simply not in an accessible format. It was so frustrating seeing how easy it was for other students to access the books that I couldn’t. I know if I had access to the books I needed when I needed them, I would have achieved a higher overall mark in my degree. Having will now revolutionise a student with visual impairment’s experience of 3rd level, as being able to access a book at the same time as your classmates is essential to creating an inclusive experience. I am envious of them, yet feel I will return to do a Masters sooner than planned now because of”

Already Bookshare Ireland is pleased to welcome O’Brien Press, Gill and Oak Tree Press to the new platform and will continue to work with other Irish publishers to increase homegrown content available to readers. To register students for this new service, please Sign Up at

Bookshare Ireland is funded by Department of Education.