National Library Service (NLS) for the Blind and
Physically Handicapped | www.loc.gov/nls
If your vision is 20/200 or worse with correction,
you qualify to borrow audio and Braille books
and magazines for free from NLS’s network of
libraries nationwide. Materials are delivered
directly to your home and can be returned to
a participating local library via mail. To play
the audio books and magazines, you’ll need
specialized equipment, which the NLS provides
free to everyone who qualifies.
American Printing House for the Blind (APH) |
APH has been creating specialized products
for the visually impaired since the mid-1800s.
Today, the company produces recorded audio,
large-print and Braille books, as well as talking
computer software and other products that
improve reading accessibility.
Bookshare | bookshare.org
Bookshare is an online library of digital books,
textbooks and newspapers in accessible formats,
including Braille, large-print and audio books.
Anyone can download books in the public
domain, but you must be a member to read any
copyrighted materials. Cost is $25 to join, plus a
$50 annual fee.
Vision Aware | visionaware.org
This online resource center is a one-stop shop
for information, covering everything from eye
conditions to visual rehabilitation. The reading
and writing section explains how to write and
sign your name when you’re struggling to see
the paper, how to read using low-vision devices
and more. The site also lists the advantages and
disadvantages of products such as magnifying
reading glasses and handheld telescopes.
Vision Aware also offers a guide to finding
a low-vision rehabilitation specialist or doctor
in your area.
Formerly known as Recording for the Blind &
Dyslexic, Learning Ally changed its name to reflect
the broader nature of its services, which encompass
reading materials for the blind, visually impaired
and learning disabled. Learning Ally offers its
members access to more than 70,000 downloadable
spoken books and textbooks, which can be played
on a computer, audiobook player or iPhone, iPad
or iPod touch. Membership costs $99 a year but
financial aid is available to anyone who qualifies.
Choice Magazine Listening |
You never have to miss out on your favorite
magazines, thanks to this service, which
offers audio playback of articles from 100 top
periodicals. The magazines, which include
Discover, Esquire, Harper’s, National
Geographic and Sports Illustrated, are available
for download on your computer. You can also
get free cassette tapes or talking-book cartridges,
which require a four-track player that is available
free from the National Library Service.
ScreenReader.net | screenreader.net
Listen to any website by downloading this free
talking software. The Thunder screen reader works
with Windows 7, Vista and XP, and comes in eight
Lighthouse International | lighthouse.org
Founded by sisters Winifred and Edith Holt,
Lighthouse strives to prevent blindness and to serve
blind people in the community. The organization
offers visual rehabilitation, assistive technology
training and other low-vision services, including
alternative reading options such as e-readers and
large-print and audio books (see lighthouse.org/
downloads/resources/reading.pdf ). n
Stephanie Watson is a freelance health writer
based in Atlanta.