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The National Council for the Blind in Ireland (NCBI)

A strong vision for learning and literacy accessibility
NCBI Homepage
NCBI Homepage

Client Overview

The National Council for the Blind (NCBI) in Ireland is part of the Bookshare project by Benetech. The Council gives those with visual impairment reading barriers across the globe new opportunities for learning and literacy.

Visit Live Website

The Challenge

NCBI is working to create accessible learning and literacy for the nearly 1.3 billion people worldwide who live with some form of distance or near vision impairment. Despite doing important work in their field, they didn’t have a website, and no means to distribute content to their users in a digital format. They needed an easy way to make their materials available in online formats to support their goals and vision, and to have the site be AAA compliant, the highest possible compliance.

The Process


Kanopi Studios worked closely with the NCBI team to better understand their needs and the specific needs of their users. Special attention was paid to making the new site as accessible as possible with a strong focus on those with visual impairments.

Research & Strategy work from NCBI


While the site was built with those who have significant visual impairments in mind, consideration was also given to those with reading difficulties. Everything from color contrast, to font families, as well as line height was considered in response to an anticipated increase in dyslexic users.

Style Tiles for NCBI

The Solution

Kanopi had already worked with Benetech to launch their Bookshare platform, so partnering with NCBI was a natural next step. Once the larger Bookshare platform was available, NCBI was able to take advantage of it to partner with publishers in Ireland and make their materials available on the platform. 

Providing strategy, design, front and back-end development of the platform in Drupal, Kanopi was able to tailor Bookshare to NCBI’s needs and audiences to unlock the power of reading.

In-depth and frequent accessibility testing kept the site AAA compliant, following best practices on contrast ratios and appropriate font sizes, while also sourcing fonts that worked well for users with visual impairments. Accessibility testing carried through to development. All image fields provide alt-text, button sizes were checked, the content hierarchy was implemented to follow best accessibility practices, and templates were built to support the hierarchy.

Key Features

NCBI Search results view

Search Functionality

The search interface was customized to maximize the space dedicated to the book listings. In a logged-in experience, users are able to download the book straight from the list.

NCBI view of different audiences

Accessibility & UX

We paid particular attention to the buttons on the site to ensure they’re easy to find visually and also easy to navigate to. On mobile, the left aligned buttons are centered for easier access with a thumb.

NCBI audience page with different types of readers


On our 3 landing pages, we took time to choose images that reflected the community it serves.

The Result

By working with Kanopi, NCBI was able to make their content available in accessible online formats through the Bookshare project. With features that include searchable text, synchronized text and audio, highlighting, and customizable font size and contrast, NCBI is empowering people with reading barriers with access to new opportunities for learning and literacy.

NCBI now has a AAA compliant site, with 800,000+ titles available to users. This impressive metric was an important measure of success for the team, indicating that they were able to give their audience wide-spread accessibility and access to educational content.

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