Historically, people who are blind or visually impaired have relied on braille translations or taped audio versions of everything from best-selling novels to textbooks to magazines. As big supporters of braille literacy, we believe utilizing this format of reading is incredibly valuable to people who are blind or visually impaired. We are also big believers in utilizing assistive technology that makes everyday tasks more convenient for those in the community. Everyone has heard of services, such as Audible that offer thousands upon thousands of book titles to enjoy, however, there are several others that are worth noting that often offer select book titles for free!
Here’s a list of the top ten audiobook websites for people who are blind or visually impaired:
- SimplyAudio. On this website, one flat fee gets you access to as many audio books as you want. When you’re finished with one, return it and immediately receive another one. It’s a nice concept with a great selection.
- AudioBooks.com. Similar to Audible, this site also offers a Netflix-style subscription service with a little bit of a twist. Rather than download the books, there is an option to stream them. It has a feature which allows you to go from one device to another (your laptop to your smartphone) without losing your place. Streaming takes up less space on your devices, making it easier to manage.
- Books Free. Don’t have a device to download or stream books to? Not a problem with Books Free. You can build a list of books you’re interested in and have them mailed directly to you in CD format. Keep them as long as you want, return in the prepaid mailer, then get your new one.
- Open Culture. This website is loaded with everything from classic novels to online courses that are all FREE. Enjoy a classic from Jane Austen or browse a textbook on your favorite subject, all at no cost.
- PodioBooks. A non-traditional approach, PodioBooks offers free titles from independent authors and gives readers the option to donate what they feel is a good amount for the book. The author gets 75 percent of the proceeds and the rest goes to maintaining the website. Not only do you get to enjoy a good book, you can support up and coming authors in the process!
- LibriVox. What’s different about LibriVox? All the audio is generated by volunteers, meaning you get a real voice rather than a computer-generated voice. This can be good an bad, as they are not professional voice-overs, however, it’s still a great service for free books.
- Learn Out Loud. This site contains roughly 5,000 audio collections of educational and inspirational content. Everything from interviews, talks, speeches and inspiring books are at your fingertips. Some titles are even as low as one dollar.
- EMusic. As it is obviously stated in the title, this website is best known for its music collection, however, it also has a great selection of audio books to choose from. Offering various membership plans, the lowest service is $12/month which gets you 24 credits. The great news? Audiobooks are only one credit. It’s an easy way to get all your entertainment in one place.
- NewFiction. Offering more non-traditional titles, this site allows you stream free books that you won’t find everywhere else. If you’re looking for something out of the box, this is one for you.
- Public Libraries. Last, but certainly not least, audio books are always available through your local public library. They offer a wide selection of titles that are always free and easy to download to your device. All you need in an online account using your library card and you’re good to go.
There are many services available for people that make reading, in its many forms, possible. The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped administers a free library program of braille and audio materials for eligible users. If you’re from the Milwaukee-area, Audio Braille and Literacy Enhancement, Inc. (ABLE) also offers a wide variety of high quality audio, digital and braille materials for anyone in need. Visit the ABLE website for more information.