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Bible Study Techniques Used by a Blind Person

INTRODUCTION: Independent Bible study for a blind person can be accomplished with a variety of technology tools and general adaptive techniques. Microcomputers, other electronic devices with speech output, and access to the Internet with screen reading software are tremendous tools.


In January of 2006 I began to study some of the "supporting" characters from the book of Acts, such as: Aquila and Priscilla - Ministry Partners with Paul, Silas - A Chief Man Among Brethren, and Barnabas - Son of Encouragement.

Since my eyesight has been too weak to see a print map for about twenty years, I needed other means to better frame the geography related to the people and events. Sometimes entries in Easton's Bible dictionary provided distance and compass point relationships between cities or other landmarks that I could remember in mental pictures. To augment this information, I found an Internet source that provided land miles between cities in Europe and Asia Minor. Another Internet site provided latitude, longitude, and elevation information: although sometimes it is difficult to match ancient names with modern names for cities and countries.

As I began to accumulate more latitude, longitude, and elevation information, I set up the data in a table in an Excel spreadsheet. I began to add major European cities, and locations in the United States so I could get a better sense of the "big picture" for Europe and Asia Minor. With the USA information, I could relate my own local conditions and those of other areas familiar to me, for better appreciation of distances, weather, and seasonal cycles in the regions described in the book of Acts.


As I studied the life of Barnabas, the island of Cyprus and the mainland to the north became more important to me for visualized orientation. My wife Carolyn prepared a relief shoreline map of the Mediterranean region by meticulously taping thread over the extensive and erratic shoreline. The thread was not thick enough for good tactual distinction, so she made a second version with string, of the complete shoreline of the Mediterranean, and this time included some of the major islands in relief. The heavier string was much easier to follow, and to tactually distinguish from the tape that held it in place. A photograph of the custom-made map is shown below.

Photograph of a relief map of the shoreline and major islands of the Mediterranean Sea


The Online Bible (slight misnomer in the name, because it is downloadable software) is available free from the North American site. The program is accessible with my screen reading software JAWS, and has many features for Bible study: direct reading of the scripture with a starting point specified by book-chapter-verse, word or phrase search (with several optional operators), search by Strong's numbers, any search can also be designated for any portion of the Bible (e.g. Jeremiah 4:1 - Luke 12:2, or just Bible, or NT, or OT, etc.) Hebrew and Greek lexicons, Easton's Bible dictionary, all in the starter package with the KJV. Various other public domain Bible versions, Bible dictionaries, Bible commentaries, and even some Christian books are available free in separate downloadable modules. Multiple "desktop" templates can be set, and each one will hold your place for whatever functions or reading you were working with when you exit the program. I have been using this software for about fifteen years through many generations of refinement by the developer, Larry Pierce; and with DOS, before the days of Windows. It works even better with Windows, since other programs can be open at the same time, allowing interaction between them.


With the Online Bible software it is possible to copy selected portions of scripture to text files. I have separate text files for all of the 66 books of the Bible, and I then copied those onto a 0.5 GB compact flashcard for use in my Bookport. the BookPort, which is basically like an MP3 player, is sold by the American Printing House for the Blind (APH), and is specifically designed for use by blind persons. It will play any MP3 file with music or voice, and it has synthetic speech for "reading" text files. There are many special features designed for accurate navigation within and between text files. Search features and bookmarks work very well with the files on the Bookport. The separate files allow switching between Bible books and returning to the same place in each book. I made a directory named KJV, with five subdirectories for my choice of major groups: Books of Moses, History, Psalms, Prophecy, and New Testament. All text files are appropriately distributed among those directories: total size is 4.27 MB.

I am very thankful to the Lord for this current age of technology that opens much more access for visually impaired people to read and research print material from many sources and about many subjects . The recorded narrations that I first used were welcome formats, but it is much more rewarding to be able to manipulate text and develop very detailed studies of the Word of God.

NOTE: material may be copied for non-commercial use.

Published revision 24 June 2006