Digital Books and Media: Access for Visually Impaired

Shelf loaded with books
Shelf loaded with books

Thanks to organizations like Bookshare and Project Gutenberg, people who have trouble reading standard print now have numerous options for accessing their literature.  Digital books and accessible media provide spoken-word recordings, translated books for several languages, e-descriptions, and more.  Explore the resources below and learn about each projects’ accessibility.


One of the largest virtual libraries online, Bookshare is more than just a place to access books.  Its members can actually share books they have scanned with other members.  Thanks to an exemption in the U.S. copyright law, people with disabilities related to reading can download and share books online legally.  Bookshare currently contains over 46,000 books available to download.  This non-profit organization also features a text to speech software available for libraries to install on their computers for those who may not have access to the internet.

Bookshare’s Twitter page

Bookshare’s Facebook page

Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic

Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic (RFB&D) has a large collection of approximately 6,000 education titles that have been digitally recorded on CD.  The audio textbooks include features that allow students to quickly navigate and bookmark pages and chapters.  This organization was founded by Anne T. Macdonald who coined the motto “Education is a right, not a privilege.”

RFB&D’s Twitter page

RFB&D’s Facebook page

Project Gutenberg

Project Gutenberg has an eText Library with books available both online and offline.  It offers over 30,000 free e-books accessible to computers or mobile devices such as a Kindle or iPhone.  Both human-read and computer-read audio books are offered, as well as digitized music.  An average of 400 e-books are added each month for free download.

Project Gutenberg’s Facebook page

More digital media sites:

Canadian National Institute for the Blind – Though it’s based in Canada, 2 million resources like music in braille and descriptive videos are available online

International Children’s Digital Library – Children’s books available in many different languages

National Center for Accessible Media – Captioning and audio description tools

Center for Applied Special Technology – Universal design for learning

Pink Monkey – Online student resource with over 460 free study guides and online textbooks for 15 subjects