The RNIB (Royal National Institute for the Blind) is combining its annual conference and exhibition in a two-day show at Birmingham's International Convention Centre, giving businesses and consumers a chance to experience the technologies available for people with sight difficulties.

This is the first year the conference and exhibition have been held at the same time.

The Vision exhibition, a free event for consumers, allows those with sight problems and their carers to experience some of the latest leaps in technologies for the blind.

Some of the devices on show will include mobile phones that have been specially adapted for blind people using both sound and Braille. Swedish company Dolphin will be demonstrating its range of EaseReader audio books and Canadian firm VisuAide will be demonstrating its GPS (global positioning system) device, designed to help those with sight difficulties navigate their way around.

On the software front, Dolphin will also be launching its Supernova Professional software which combines speech, Braille, magnification and colour display options that can be used across LANs. The software can be trained to recognise new applications, such as Windows XP, and adapt them to a user-friendlier environment.

The Techshare conference for business professionals will include talks from key government speakers including the Minister for the Disabled, Maria Eagle and the government's e-envoy Andrew Pinder, with several celebrities also lined up to cover aspects of learning and working.

"Joining forces with Vision will clearly increase those networking opportunities and will offer Techshare's international membership the chance to reach a wider audience," said Richard Orme, RNIB's assistant director of Information Communications Technology Services.