Accessible Assistive Technology Resources Bridges Blog Educational Resources Extracurricular Resources Independent Living Resources Series: Anticipation August

Acquire Books and Information Independently

Anticipation August

August brings our last few weeks of summer vacation before school begins. As we anticipate a new school year, we review the information that will help make this school year a terrific one!

In this third segment of the series, we explore the multitude of opportunities for accessing books and other information in accessible formats.

Why Independent Acquisition?

Certainly, each of us needs a helping hand from time to time. However, that helping hand is not available all the time.

This tip focuses on providing the information and resources that allow us to search for and gather accessible information when we want to access it. With this information, we have more control over our own lives. Even better, we can share this information to help our teachers find accessible materials to share with everyone – to create a “born accessible” classroom!



Bookshare titles are available in file formats that allow individuals to access the book using print, enlarged print, audio, and Braille. Though not every format is available for every title, Bookshare’s formats include:

  • EPUB
  • Microsoft Word (great for adding notes to the text, grabbing quotations, etc.)
  • DAISY with images
  • BRF
  • MP3

Don’t hesitate to download the same title in different formats – we have the right to use whatever format or formats work best for us!

NEW! Bookshare now offers several titles with human narrators. As of August 15, 2023, Bookshare offers more than 9,000 titles with human narration.

Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD)

The National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled (NLS) offers online access to accessible books through its BARD program. Through BARD, we can download accessible books (both textbooks and others). Bonus: audiobooks from BARD utilize human narrators rather than synthetic speech.

Maryland State Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (LBPD)

Accessible college textbooks

The Maryland Accessible Textbook Program (MATP), which is run by the LBPD, provides accessible college textbooks for eligible Maryland residents. There is no charge for this service (but the student must purchase the non-adapted materials, just as nondisabled students must do.)

The MATP takes student-purchased college textbooks and provides the material in your choice of the following formats:

  • Large Print
  • Audio (MP3)
  • Microsoft Word
  • PDF
  • EPUB

EBraille reader

Upon request, LBPD will send LBPD patrons a 20-cell refreshable braille display at no cost. It is a loaner device from LBPD, and you do not need to return it over holiday breaks, the summer, or upon graduation from high school or college.

Please contact the Bridges Helpdesk for more information. We are excited to connect you to this terrific resource!

NFB-NEWSLINE® News Information Service

The NFB-NEWSLINE® service offers qualified individuals free audio access to local state, national, and international newspapers as well as other news sources and a wide variety of magazines. We can access NFB-NEWSLINE® in several different ways: NFB-NEWSLINE® Mobile app from the Apple App Store, NFB-NEWSLINE® Website. Phone (888-882-1629), Amazon Alexa NFB-NEWSLINE® skill, and NFB-NEWSLINE® In Your Pocket, for portable players like the Victor Reader Stream®.

EBSCO Databases

EBSCO provides access to many books and research articles to its members, and many schools (especially colleges) have subscriptions that allow each of their students to use this service.

EBSCO Discovery Service: an all-inclusive search solution that makes in-depth research easy.

EBSCO eBooks: includes titles from top publishers and university presses.

Audio-Described Videos: Described and Captioned Media (For K-12 only)

The Described and Captioned Media Program (DCMP). Provides access to professionally-prepared audio-described educational videos at no cost to eligible students and their K-12 schools.

Please contact the Bridges Helpdesk for more information about DCMP and how to sign up.

Please Reach Out ANYTIME!

We at the Bridges Helpdesk and Technical Assistance Center have decades of experience, and we are eager to hear from you and to help with anything you need. Please never hesitate to contact us!

Contact us

Follow the Bridges Helpdesk Facebook page for more transition tips, and please contact the Bridge’s Technical Assistance Center’s Free Helpdesk for Maryland Blind/Low Vision Transition Students, Families, and Educators anytime using:

This unique project is being coordinated through The IMAGE Center of Maryland, a center for independent living in Towson, and it is funded by a grant from the Maryland Department of Education Division of Special Education/Early Intervention Services.

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