Blind Bookworm: Accessible Ebooks, Etexts and Textbooks
On Other Pages:
Learn more about Accessible eBooks
Learn More About Copyright Issues
Learn More About Making Math Accessible
On This Page:
Braille and Talking Book Resources
Etexts, E-books, Textbooks and Digital Audio
Programs, Tutorials, and Miscellaneous
Braille and Talking Books Resources
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- Choice Magazine listening
High-quality magazine which anthologizes articles from a multitude of fiction and non-fiction, poetry and science magazines, such as The New Yorker, The New York Times, The American Scholar, etc., on NLS 4-track cassette. You can communicate with the people who produce it, and subscribe to it, at this web site. Highly recommended.
The online mailing list I started for blind readers using new technologies to access books. Members can post book reviews, share resources for finding etext and ebooks, both specialized and commercial, and ask questions about using various formats and programs, such as Palm Reader and PDF files.
- Finding Ebooks On the Internet
Currently being revised for publication in 2004, this book is, in my opinion, a book every blind reader should own. It also provides an excellent start for any teacher, parent or service provider for the blind who wishes to learn more about accessible etexts and EBooks. Written by Anna Dresner, a blind editor for the National Braille Press, the book covers a full range of topics, from how to locate and access free etexts to purchasing and using commercial EBooks, to learning more about the accessible Daisy format used by the RFBD and others.
to view the table of contents. Available in large print and braille, At fourteen dollars, this book is very affordable and considered a vital resource for any blind reader, especially students. NBP offers many other great books, see more below.
- Matilda Ziegler Magazine
A magazine for the blind, available in many formats, in your email box or your snail mailbox.
- Music VI
"If you want to learn to play by ear, you will have to use your ears, not your eyes." That is the motto of this series of recorded music lessons for guitar and piano. There is even a special course specifically for the visually-impaired. Listen to the sample lessons available in MP3 format on the web site. I ordered this series myself, and the level of instruction is exceptional.
- National Braille Press
Accessible books at affordable prices, and not just in braille. NBP offers an outstanding selection of instructional guides on subjects such as Nemeth (math) Braille, music Braille, and computer how-to's and keystroke guides. You can also find the Harry Potter series, along with other classic children's books such as The lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (one of my favorite books).
- National Library Service for the Blind
Whether you are into tape or braille, this library, part of the Library of Congress, is getting better all the time. Not only are there more books on a wider range of topics, but you can easily
search the online catalogue,
subscribe to magazines
like Asimov's Science Fiction or National Geographic, but now you can read books in
Web Braille is an Internet service which allows library patrons who subscribe through their local branch library to download electronic texts of books and magazines. These files can not only be printed to hard copy with a braille embosser, but converted into text files using certain programs and software packages. Stay tuned for more innovations from the NLS,
which recently released a document explaining their plans for developing new digital technologies in the future,
- Audio Technology Initiatives.
- National Library of the U.K.
Offers lending privileges to blind readers outside the U.K., a friendly alternative to America's unfriendly copyright laws which prevent blind readers from outside the United States, including Canada, to borrow books from American libraries.
- New York Public Library Newsletter for the Blind
Whether the reader is in the NYC area or not, this is a great newsletter, each issue containing a booklist on a recommended subject, one for adults, one for children.
- Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic
The search engine for the online catalog is a bit limited, but you can get bibliographies for particular subjects from the reference librarian. The RFBD is in the process of switching books over to their AudioPlus digital format, and this promises to offer more usability and higher quality-control.
- RNIB Welcome to a World of...
Online newsletter from the Royal National Institute for the Blind in the U.K. with lots of spiffy tips and links to new products. It's nice to find out what's going on transpondentially.
Ebooks, Etexts, Textbooks, and Digital Audio
Note: Latin and Greek Resources are listed on a separate page
Making Math Accessible Resources.<./a>
You can find out more about
Accessible eBooks here.
Kestrell's Top Three Picks:
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- Etext Spider
If you don't find what you are looking for there, try
- Online Books Page
This Web site catalogues not only the online libraries used in the above search engine, but every online library and personal collection which requests to be added to the listing. Updated almost daily, check out the
What's New Page.
- BlackMask Online
Most of the etexts here end up posted to the Online Books Page, but the weird and gothic fiction is outstanding. You can sign up for a daily update which notifies you not only of new etexts, but also throws in news about the world of ebooks and e-publishing.
- Amazon.com text-only Web site
Easier to use, very clean and screen reader-friendly.
- Audyssey Blind Gamers Newsletter
Also includes links to games, reviews, tips, articles, much more.
- Bedford/St. Martin's
This company has some wonderful writing resources and literary criticism handbooks, like the Diane Hacker book listed below. They provide some of their materials in electronic format, CC your request to your Disabled Students Services office or ask someone at the office to make the request for you. Special Projects Manager: by phone 1-800-223-1715, ext. 7105
or by email at email@example.com.
- Book ShareOrg
This subscriber service offers a growing clearinghouse for both scanned texts of books produced by volunteers (a good way to earn your membership fee and etexts from publishers like O'Reilly.
- Chapter of the Day
This is a mailing list which sends you selections from a new book each week, five days a week. After recieving weekly selections for over a year, there have been perhaps two or three that I was uninterested in, more than balanced by the surprises (_Seabiscuit_ stayed true to form, and really proved to be a winner.).
- Houghton Mifflin Electronic Texts Form
My experience is that if you have your Disabled Students Services office send this request, or send it yourself and place your DSS office's email addy in the CC field, you will get a more positive response than making the request on your own. Long live the the bureacracy.
- Online Books Page
The first place to look for etext on the net. Do what I did, make the "What's New" page your browser's home page, and you can find out what has been added not only to Project Gutenberg but a thousand and one other sources. Also has links to the most current and accurate information regarding copyright laws, other etext sources, searches, and...just go already!
When I first began surfing the Net years ago, this site was providing great content in an accessible format, and it is still a great place to browse, living up to its promise of "Maximum content for minimum clicks.". Everything is accesible, from the great articles about getting the most out of your web site to the best way to use the Internet to the etexts you can purchase through the online store.
- Search Ebooks
Enter any keyword in the edit field, and the result is a list of etexts from even the most obscure regions of the Internet. Includes poetry, criticism, computer documentation, very comprehensive.
- Thomson Learning
Note the advice given above for requesting electronic texts from Houghton Mifflin.
- University of Virginia Etext Center
>From primary documents in American history to etexts of books by American authors, this is a web site all students should be familiar with. I found half the texts I needed for an American authors class here.
Programs, Tutorials and Miscellaneous
- ACB Radio
Internet radio by blind users for blind users. Music, interviews, information; check out Main Menu, a show about assisstive technology, which airs at one Universal time each Wednesday, that's Tuesday
evening in the USA at 9 Eastern and 6 Pacific, on ACB Radio mainstream.
- Adobe Acrobat Accessibility Web Site
The new Adobe Reader 6.0 (which combines Acrobat with the eBook reader program) has many accessibility features. Note that though the new Adobe Reader 6.0 technically allows access to Adobe Reader eBooks, the security settings which most authors and publishers set to high still lock out most screen readers. This site also allows the user to use a text edit field to convert online documents from .pdf to .txt. This last is also a feature of Google's search engine, btw.
- Assist with Windows
Part of the Iowa Department for the Blind, this site provides many guides and tutorials about using screen readers with Windows programs, use your credit card and for five dollars you can instantly download guides for things like Outlook Express. Check back often, the guides for Front Page and Adobe Acrobat are invaluable.
- Access Technology Institute
Offers an extensive list of online classes for blind users, including one specifically created for blind high school students transitioning to college. Some of these courses are free, most are very affordable. This site also provides a
Mega List of Blind Mailing Lists.
- Ann Morris Enterprises
Blind-friendly stuff including kitchenwares (like those little coffee cup alarms that beep when the cup is almost full).
- BatCane from SoundForeight
This just sounsd cool!
- Association of Blind Citizens
Organizes activities, trips, scholarships, lots more.
- Blind and Visually-Impaired Net Ring
Huge resource for links to accessible games, technology and adaptive aids vendors books, advice, and well, just too much to list, run go find out.
- Audio Described Television Programming
Updated daily, also available as a daily email by sending a blank email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Backup MyPC
Easy accessible backup program with many keyboard shortcuts. Backs up to tape or CD, produces reports readable in Notepad.
- Blind Science Fiction Mailing List
new, join and find out where it goes.
- Camera Obscura
Along with the next site, this is in my top five web sites all blind computer users should visit regularly. This site has a mind-bogglingly complete list of mailing lists for the blind, everything from blind teachers to blind Trekkies, and hundreds in between. Also links to many many web sites owned by blind computer users, and even more than I can mention.
- Empowerment Zone
Blind computer users in search of information about the ADA, employee rights, job accomodation, and all that real world stuff, this is the first place to go. Definitely in my top five.
- Book Courier
Ddeveloped by the same people who produced the Roadrunner.
- Chemistry page for blind students
- Conversion of Units
If you need to find out how to convert inches to millimeters or Farenheit to Celsius, this Wikipedia site will be both accessible and informative.
- Dynamic Living Com
Some nice talking products like the talking prescription bottle and the talking medication reminder/pill organizer along with reachers (those grabber thingies on a stick) and arthritis therapy items.
- eSight Careers NetWork
An outstanding resource which includes regularly-updated articles about job searching strategies and vocabulary, profiles of disabilty-friendly employers, and how to take full advantage of adaptive technology, such as the article on
scanning tips and tricks.
- Fabric Dragon
The Fabric Dragon sells all sorts of trim, including reflective trim (great stuff if you travel at night) along with an eclectic stock, including Braille tarot cards.
- GPS for the Blind mailing list
This is a Topica list you can subscribe to.
- Hadley School for the Blind
The Hadley School provides correspondence courses free of charge on a vast range of topics: keyboarding skills, Braille, bird songs, basic computer skills, literature, and more. Excellent instructors, very dedicated.
A personal offline search engine developed by NASA, ILIAD's agents can search for Internet info via a simple email interface or a Web-based form and is even suitable if you have limited Web access or are vision impaired.
- IRTI : Innovative Rehabilitation Technology
This company sells both assistive and mainstream electronic devices, and typically includes audiocassette instructions and tech support aimed at blind users. I cannot recommend this company enough; they will even assemble PCs and load the necessary assistive technology on them. I wrote a review of the Sony ICD-B25 digital voice recorder for the Electrobooks list, and someone at this company was good enough to contact me regarding the audiotape instructions he had written for the device. The digital recorder is very accessible, and thanks to these additional instructions, most of the functionality of the device is available also. The company has an extensive product list, among many other services. For more information about the Sony digital voice recorder or other products, you can also call 800 322-4784.
- JAWS User Groups
- Jewish Braille Institute
This group offers free materials to those interested in the literary, cultural and religious traditions of Judaism.
One of the groundbreakers in reading machines and accessible scanning software Ray Kurzweil is the innovator in the fields of OCR, voice recognition, and just so many other facets of adaptive technology, and Kurzweil the company offers two different software packages, K1000 for the blind and visually-impaired and K3000 for those with print disabilities. Check
Kurzweil 1000 ftp site
for demos, patches, and other good things. For still more Kurzweil 1000 information, consider subscribing to the mailing list.
- Joe Lazzaro
An author of science fiction and adaptive technology books, lots about both on this web site.
- Literature Awards
Wondering who won the Pulitzer this year? Trying to find the Newberry Medal winner for outstanding children's literature? This is the place to go--it lists all the prizes you've heard of and more.
- Live Journal Blog Community
If you have been thinking of giving blogging a try, this online blogging community is quite accessible to those using screen readers. LiveJournal also offers an online community so you can read what your "friends" are writing, and you can also search by name, topic, etc. You can read my blog at
Kestrell's Aerye. (Note that if you do sign up the one pesky detail in the login process is that once you have hit the login button, you need to go all the way to the bottom of the next page which loads, then click on "site map" to get to all your options.)
- Making Educational Software and Web Sites Accessible
: Design Guidelines Including Math and Science Solutions
If you are working with math or science and need to put materials online, this is an invaluable resource. It is available free of charge in print and on the Web in a fully accessible version. Request print copies (bulk orders accepted) by sending an e-mail to email@example.com or by calling 617 300-3400
voice, 617 300-2489 TTY.
- MAVIS: Massachusetts Alliance of Visually-Impaired Students
This group welcomes college students and high school students, and provides many opportunities to exchange ideas and offer encouragement to others facing the same challenges.
- Media and Disability Bibliography
Provides a bibliography of books about disability and also invites authors who have written books on the topic to have their books listed in the bibliography.
- Microsoft Reader Accessibility Page
MS Reader for the PC, along with the additional TTS package, makes reading many MS Reader format ebooks relatively easy. (Ebooks labeled "Premium content" or "Owner exclusive" or "secure" are not accessible, but everything at Audible.com is very accessible.) Microsoft provides more than the usual amount of documentation, you will definitely want to read the information about MS Reader keyboard shortcuts.
- MSN Messenger
Many blind computer users claim MSN Messenger is the most accessible IM utility, and JAWS 4.5 provides full accessibility to this program.
- Mini-Reader PDB-to-Text Converter
This is a great little program which converts the pdb Ebook format into text. This does not work on the secured Palm Reader or similar formats, but does work on the unsecured unproprietary format. The Web site where I originally found it, Mini-Reader.com, has disappeared, but I am linking it to an alternate location for download. You can find out more about it on the Accessible Ebooks Page.
MoPix provides information about movies with descriptive tracks and captioning, where you can find these movies, and a newsletter which will keep you updated about new movies and theatres. highly recommended.
- Monster Diversity & Inclusion for expert career advice
This Web site follows through on its claim of expert advice. The tips and recommendations will not only provide lots of resources on how to find a job, but how to perfect your resume and prepare for those tricky interview questions. There is also a
- style guide
A guide to assists reporters in using language that is respectful and accurate when describing disability and disability issues. It also has a mentorship program for "journalism students and new journalists with disabilities." Anapplication form can be found
- Nan Hawthorne
Writer/Journalist, Web Content Developer and one of the editors for eSight.org.
- National Center on Disability and Journalism
- A href="http://www.pcsgames.net"> PCS Games for the Blind
- Palm Reader for the PC
You can find out more about the Palm Reader for the PC, which is accessible with screen readers, at the Peanut Press web site. You can also find out more at the Fictionwise web site, where you can download many secured Palm Reader ebooks, and yes, the secured format is accessible also.
- aA href="http://www.premier-programming.com/"> Premier Programmi
This company produces a accessible scanning program which is both accurate and inexpensive. Premier also offers programs such as a Talking Calculator, a text-to-MP3 converter, and a new PDF utility which converts PDF into Word or text documents.
- Safari Computer and Technology-Related Ebooks
For a small monthly fee you can subscribe to Safari and read the computer books you want online. You can also use the "save as" option on the file menu to save the chapters to your hard drive. If you're a geek, you should check this out.
- Speak To Me Catalog: Talking Products
"Give the gift that says something." Gadgets, gizmos, toys, beyond the usual.
- Talking Information Center
A reading service for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, you can listen to archived shows or listen to the live webcast. There is also a newsletter and lots of other good information here.
- Teaching Everyone
Disability and new technology, a guide for lecturers
- Salon Blogs
If you want to try this blogging thing, the Salon blogware is accessible and very easy to use. You get a free month to try it out, and if you like it, pay thirty-five dollars to subscribe.
- Search Engine Dictionary
Features and services provided by search engines are being added to daily, and learning how to exploit all the capabilities of search engines in order to find the information you want can be very frustrating. Read some of the definitions and increase your information-gathering skills.
- Students with Disabilities Preparing for Postsecondary Education: Know Your Rights and Responsibilities>
This document published by the U.S. government provides information on the rights and responsibilities of
students with disabilities who plan to attend a postsecondary institution.
This pamphlet also explains the obligations of postsecondary schools to
provide academic adjustments to ensure that they do not discriminate on the
basis of disability.
- Smithsonian Institute Disability Rights Movement Exhibition
- Society for Disability Studies
- Texas School for the Blind Textbooks Links
Locating textbooks in accessible formats is often the most frustrating aspect of being a blind student. Here is another resource to help locate those books.
- Toys for Blind Children
A yearly publication, and provides the occasional pointer to something new for my army of singing and dancing Goth toys.
- WRBH Radio for the Blind and Print Handicapped
Broadcasting live from New Orleans and on the Internet, this radio station provides readings for the blind, everything from romance to Stephen King to tours of the New Orleans cemetaries.
- The Writer
One of the best magazines for writers, articles worth reading even if you only want to write for yourself. You can sign up for the monthly Writing Prompts (I promise, you will never have to ask a writer, "Where do you get your ideas from?" ever again) delivered to your mailbox, or you can get the magazine through the NLS.
- Writer's Reference
Companion Web site for Diana Hacker's book which takes a student beyond the basic Strunk and White. If you are a student, you can have your Disabled Students Services office request the text in electronic form, though the Web site offers much of the text's information.
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Last updated December 16 2003