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Alternatives to Bookshare

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Cliff Weitzman
By Cliff Weitzman Dyslexia & Accessibility Advocate, CEO/Founder of Speechify in Alternatives on November 20, 2022
Looking for the best alternatives to Bookshare? Keep reading to learn about similar sites and other text to speech options.

    Alternatives to Bookshare

    For most people, reading is a pleasurable activity, but it can be challenging for those with print disabilities. People with visual impairments and learning disabilities like ADHD, dyslexia, and dyscalculia often struggle to read traditional books and require content in alternative formats.

    Fortunately, struggling readers can rely on several support services like Bookshare. This audiobook depository allows users to hone their reading skills and enjoy their favorite stories. It also raises awareness about the importance of accessibility in printed media. 

    We’ll review this disability service and highlight some of its key features. Since not all users with disabilities may qualify for Bookshare, we’ll provide several other options you can try today. 

    What is bookshare.org?

    Bookshare is a digital library with over one million titles in an electronic format.

    This national center receives funding from the Office of Special Education and the U.S. Department of Education, but it offers more than just educational content. Users can discover electronic books, or e-books, in various genres, including children’s books, biographies, adult titles, new releases, and public domain books.

    Students with visual disabilities can use the service for free. Learners who are blind or visually impaired automatically qualify for the platform, as do those with reading/learning disabilities. For example, if a child is diagnosed with a perceptual disability and struggles to differentiate between sight words, they can apply for Bookshare. 

    However, the program has strict eligibility requirements for free access, so not all students with conditions like dysgraphia, ADHD, and auditory disabilities may qualify. The good news is that even ineligible applicants can use this e-book library after paying a relatively affordable service fee. 

    Bookshare is currently available online as a web reader, but users should expect an iOS and Android mobile app by the end of 2022. 

    Those who qualify for Bookshare can:

    • Listen to titles in studio-quality audio

    • Improve concentration by following highlighted text

    • Tweak the reading speed, font style, and font size

    • Use bookmarks

    • Track their reading progress

    The Web Reader works best with the following browsers:

    • Google Chrome

    • Safari

    • Mozilla Firefox

    • Microsoft Edge

    The customization options are great for users who have difficulty reading e-books in standard print.

    Bookshare operates similar to a library service. For instance, college students can search for textbooks without attaching a proof of purchase. After downloading the free e-books, students can send in a request form should some course materials not fit their needs. This could mean asking for a version with additional images for students with visual impairments.

    You can submit a request form if Bookshare doesn’t have a specific textbook in its collection. The platform’s research team will review the textbook request, try to digitize the title, and add it to the catalog of Bookshare books.

    Other options for Bookshare fans

    If you like what bookshare.org brings to the table, you might be interested in exploring several similar websites. The options below have different inbuilt reading tools that make e-text formats more accessible.


    Founded in 1995, Audible was one of the first audiobook providers in the world. Amazon bought the platform in 2008, expanding its services to cover podcasts and original content. Users can choose between an Audible Premium and an Audible Plus subscription. The former offers Audible members exclusive discounts and a free audiobook each month.

    The service is compatible with nearly all devices and operating systems, including Windows, macOS, Windows Phones, Android, and iOS.

    Regardless of your streaming device, the Audible app is full of features that guarantee an enjoyable experience. The interface is intuitive, and you can tweak the playback settings and enable sleep timers. 


    VitalSource is a service that allows students with disabilities to access e-books that cater to their specific needs. Although not all titles are available in an audio format, many have a Read Aloud functionality and a suite of similar accessibility features. 

    For books unavailable in audio format, students are encouraged to bring proof of purchase to their local DRC (Disability Resource Center) office, which will assist them in obtaining a more accessible copy. 


    Bookshelf by VitalSource is an excellent option for students with reading difficulties and those who want a paperless college experience. This mobile app is easy to use and features:

    • Advanced search options for going through books, figures, and workbooks

    • A text to speech (TTS) tool that supports multiple languages

    • A workbook for editing notes, adding bookmarks, and reviewing key concepts

    • Offline reading support

    • Custom style options for the app display

    The app is compatible with Android, Microsoft, iOS, macOS, Chromebook, and Amazon Kindle products. 

    Accesstext Network

    Accesstext Network (ATN) is an intermediary between publishers and higher education institutions across the U.S. It strives to help all students reach their full potential and thrive in their academic careers. Students can inform their college which textbooks they have purchased, and professors can input that information in ATN. The platform will retrieve any downloadable format and email it to the school. 


    Initially designed for students with learning disabilities, Speechify has quickly become one of the most popular text to speech apps on the market.

    It can convert virtually any text format into audio output, including Microsoft Word documents, Google docs, EPUB, RSS feeds, Amazon Kindle e-books, and more. Although some read-aloud apps are only available in English, people from all around the globe can use Speechify. It supports over 20 languages, and if you’re looking to brush up on your Dutch, Spanish, or Italian skills, why not give it a go?

    Another impressive feature is the note-taking tools, which make learning a breeze. These tools are invaluable for students looking for more productive ways to stay on top of their coursework and reading materials.

    Speechify—The text to speech app for disabled readers

    One of Speechify’s primary goals is to make printed and digital content more accessible and to ensure that people with disabilities can discover the joys of reading. Whether you want to listen to an audio version of your paper or practice listening comprehension in a foreign language, Speechify’s got your back.

    In addition to its standard library of natural-sounding voices, you can access celebrity options and listen to Gwyneth Paltrow or Snoop Dogg narrate an engaging tale. Download the mobile app or Chrome extension to try Speechify for free today. You can switch to a Premium plan at any time. 


    What age is Bookshare for?

    Students of all ages studying in the U.S. can use the service for free if they meet the eligibility criteria. 

    Recent Blogs

    Cliff Weitzman

    Cliff Weitzman

    Cliff Weitzman is a dyslexia advocate and the CEO and founder of Speechify, the #1 text-to-speech app in the world, totaling over 100,000 5-star reviews and ranking first place in the App Store for the News & Magazines category. In 2017, Weitzman was named to the Forbes 30 under 30 list for his work making the internet more accessible to people with learning disabilities. Cliff Weitzman has been featured in EdSurge, Inc., PC Mag, Entrepreneur, Mashable, among other leading outlets.

    Pick Your Speechify Tribe

    I have been flailing due to an eye injury on top of Lyme disease on top of long-covid and a herniated disc with neuropathy. Sitting hurts and propping a book while lying down is stressful. Anxiety over not keeping up, ADD with medication fluctuation and nystagmus of one eye, stigmatism with the other eye both before the retina injured has caused duress as an exam approaches in 35 days. I just need to get through these 500 pages and at least try the assignments. I believe this app will be the key.. thank you ever so much! It’s never too late to find a key and unlock the door to a new world!

    “I have ADHD and I love to read but have piles of book that I have never touched. I downloaded this app and it has helped me read more and obtain information better for school! Love this app , I recommend it to everyone!” - JENEMARIE

    “Love this app, I have eye problems and this app helps me read headache free. Plus it’s great for traders to listen to news and multitasks.” - JJJJJJMMMMMMM”

    “I like Reading books but I don’t like to read at the same time this is so nice and very much correct. Totally recommend!” - Amazing use this now!!! - HALL LACKS SI USA

    “I am a student who had dyslexia so is very very very helpful for me. A reading assignment that would normally take me 30+ minutes took 10! I will be using this very often.” - CHAMA NORLAND

    “I’m an audible learner. Speechify helps me to comprehend readings better than I am capable of reading the text silently.” - CANDI CL

    “This is probably top 5 of greatest apps ever, you can literally read alone an entire book in a day. Easily worth the cost of the app.” - TJV 34

    “Excellent for comprehending medical textbooks more quickly and thoroughly!! This is awesome for keeping up with latest surgical techniques and technology. Dr. K” - IMPLANTOPERATOR

    “Speechify saves my 70 year old eyes. I close them. I listen.” - WRANGLERSUPREME

    “I was dreading reading this long story but Speechify got it done now I can go ahead and take my college quiz.” - SUNCOP

    “I teach visually impaired students AND students with dyslexia. This app is a huge help to all of them. Thank you for helping those who need it most!!” - ETTETWO

    “I use this app to proofread before I publish chapters of my books and it works so good! 10/10 recommended.” - LOUIELEIUOL


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    “Congratulations for this lovely project. Speechify is brilliant. Growing up with dyslexia this would have made a big difference. I'm so glad to have it today.”
    - Sir Richard Branson
    "Speechify lets me listen to Goop blog posts out loud in the car and gets my friends through grad school. It's amazing for scripts."
    - Gwyneth Paltrow