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Alternate Reading Methods

Reading is a very relaxing and enjoyable hobby that should not end with increased upper extremity weakness. There are many options to maintain your ability to access reading material.

Manual Page Turners can cost over $4,000. They require physically setting up the book (usually by another individual), and you have access to that one set up book at a time.

The better way to access printed material is through audio recordings or electronically. This can be done by viewing printed material on a computer screen and/or listening to recordings of books/newspapers.

There are some software programs that allow you to "read" any text file, and some of them have books for sale. If you do a web search for "ereader software" you will find a host of options. Two software programs that are easy to use and allow you to purchase books are www.ereader.com and www.mobipocket.com.

Many patients with ALS (PALS) are interested in ebook readers - stand alone devices that allow you to read books. Some examples of these devices are the Kindle, Sony eReader, or the Nook. At this time, the ability of these devices to be accessible to PALS throughout the course of the disease is limited. Once a PALS is no longer able to press physical buttons, the patient will no longer have access to the device. This is a quickly changing industry, and there will be many changes to these products over the next few years. So, you may want to consider alternative to purchasing a physical ebook reader. Amazon offers software that can be installed on your computer that will allow you to access their catalog of material available for the Kindle. To learn more about the Kindle software, go to www.amazon.com and go to the Kindle section of the site.

Here are some other resources for getting access to books:

  • FREE → ALS Association Listening Library - The Greater New York Chapter of the ALS Association has some books on tape and/or CD available for loan. Call Chris Dunn at 212-720-3044 for more information.
  • FREE → Library Services - the following libraries have services including electronic books and/or audio books available for free:
  • The New York Public Library - ebooks.nypl.org;
    The Nassau Public Library - www.nassaulibrary.org;
    The Suffolk Public Library - www.suffolk.lib.ny.us;
    The Westchester Library System - www.westchesterlibraries.org;
    The Ramapo Catskill Library System (serving Rockland County) -- www.rcls.org and efiles.rcls.org;
    The New Jersey State Library - www.njstatelib.org
  • (Some services are available to all library card holders. Some special services may require some documentation of your disability. Your local branch can help you discover what services are available to you. Most local library branches have audio books available for check out.)
  • FREE → Project Gutenberg
  • - Famous and freely available important texts, over 10,000 books currently available
  • FREE → LibriVox - Free print and audio version of public domain books. Offers podcast.
  • FREE → National Library Service - Audio books free of charge to people with disabilities.
  • FREE → Lit2Go - a free online collection of stories and poems in Mp3 (audiobook) format.
  • FREE → Classic Bookshelf - Classic books with the ability to change the color and font of the reading material. Many people have trouble reading electronically but with this website you can se the font and the color to your liking.
  • FREE → Internet Archive - Books, audio, video and more for free. Books can be viewed online or downloaded for later use.
  • FREE → Audio Bible - Provides a free copy of the Bible on Cassette Tape/CD/MP3 to anyone who cannot physically access the Bible; available in many different languages.
  • FREE → Quran - Quran.org or Quranexplorer.com provides text and/or audio recordings of the Quran online.
  • FREE → The Radio Reading Project - 718-360-1956 - provides a broadcast of reading service for may popular newspapers and other print media, including New York Times.
  • FREE → Other Radio Reading Services - For a listing of radio reading services in New York State, click here, for New Jersey, click here. If you access the service via the internet it free of charge. If you want to tune into the service with a special radio, you pay a one time fee for the radio, but the service is free.
  • FREE/PAY FOR SERVICE → Various Magazines - whether you like reading People Magazine, The New Yorker, or Newsweek, most magazines have some sort of online presence, and you can access articles online. So just go to the magazine's website to see what is available.
  • PAY FOR SERVICE → Zinio - digital versions of magazines. You pay for a subscription, which is a discounted rate from the paper version.
  • PAY FOR SERVICE → Bookshare - A large database of books scanned by users that can be read on the computer screen and/or listed to on a computer. There is a $50 annual fee.
  • PAY FOR SERVICE → Audible - Digital audio books, radio shows, and audio versions of poplar magazines and daily newspapers for a monthly or yearly fee. The items are downloaded to handheld devices or personal computers.

Other resources:


Ask The Expert! Do you have any assistive technology related questions? Email Ben Lieman, our Assistive Technology Specialist at BLieman@als-ny.org or call the office at (212) 720-3057.


Back to Assistive Technology Homepage.

Further Reading:

- Be Proactive! - Insurance and Big Ticket Items
- Adaptive Clothing
- Alternate Reading Methods
- Patient Lifts
- Hospital Beds/Mattresses
- 3-in-1 Commode
- Modified Vehicles

Recursos en espaƱol disponibles. Por favor llame al (212) 619-1400. Gracias.


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