back view of woman wearing headphones

Reading Materials in Alternative Formats

Once the printed word is scanned and digitized, it can be accessed in any form—downloaded from the Internet, spoken aloud by a screen reader, expanded to large print, or converted for Braille output. The listening world has mostly shifted from analog sound to digitalization, and that has increased access to reading materials by those with visual or reading impairments, while being convenient to any listener. Digital technology is superior to analog because sound quality is easier to control, though many fine programs are still offered in other formats.

Talking books can liven up long commutes or be listened to during less engaging activities, like housework. Story telling will always be an irreplaceable art form, as old as humankind. When an author or performer reads a work aloud, he or she inflects a deeper level of meaning into the words. The following resources are a mix of free programs for persons with visual impairments, as well as commercial vendors and listening devices. Each offers something different.

American Foundation for the Blind
Order AFB's publications online. Browse through the AFB Press Catalog of Publications, and access your online subscription to AccessWorld™ and the Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness.

American Printing House for the Blind
APH offers products designed for people who are blind and visually impaired of all ages.

The Blindness Resource Center
Access to all types of media and resources for BVI. Includes information on eye conditions, research, braille, and more. Available in text or graphical format. 
Download newspapers, periodicals, books, and radio shows to your computer, mobile device or other audio player. Subscription based resource.

Bookshare provides digital text for those with visual impairments, physical disabilities or severe learning disabilities. Free to school age children in the US. Annual fee for others. Print disability must be documented. 

Thorndike Press
Tel: 800.223.1244 
Reprints of popular (including New York Times best sellers) and classic regular-print books prepared in large type.

Choice Magazine Listening (CML) 
Choice Magazine Listening produces audio of magazine writing for print-disabled adults (blind, visually impaired or physically disabled) four times a year. The service and the special player are free. They subscribe to 100 distinguished magazines, select the best writing for inclusion in each quarterly 12 hour issue.  All selections are unabridged and read by professional audiobook narrators. 

Digital Accessible Information System (DAISY) Consortium
Talking-book libraries to lead the worldwide transition from analogue to digital talking books formed DAISY in 1996. The vision of the DAISY Consortium is "that all published information is available to people with print disabilities, at the same time and at no greater cost, in an accessible, feature-rich, navigable format". DAISY carries some Android apps for reading DAISY formatted materials on mobile devices.

Carries ebooks for Kindle Fire, Android, Apple, Nook, Kobo, PC, Mac, and Blackberry.

Large Print Reviews
Provides reviews of large print and audio books, as well as reviews of low vison aids, such as magnifiers and screen readers. Also has a list of travel tips, articles and destination reports for the visually impaired traveler. Has a large selection of books covering the topic of low vision.

National Braille Press
National Braille Press promotes literacy as a bookseller and printer of fine Braille products, including books for children and adults, and print books for sighted teachers and parents. Also provides outreach programs and trainings.

The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS)
THE NLS offers Braille and recorded books and magazines to children and adult readers through a network of regional libraries throughout the United States and its territories. This cooperative network is made up largely of state and local public libraries that circulate books and playback machines directly to readers. The NLS is funded annually by Congress.

National Federation for the Blind (NFB)
Provides public education about blindness, information and referral services, scholarships, literature and publications about blindness, aids and appliances and other adaptive equipment, advocacy services and protection of civil rights, development and evaluation of technology and support blind persons and their families.

NFB Newsline
Subscribe and access daily newspapers and magazines. Choose a newspaper, section, and article to read using a standard touchtone phone or iPhone.  Includes magazines, newspapers and over 300 publications including 4 Spanish language newspapers. Free for anyone who cannot read conventional newsprint.