Online Resources for Blind and Partially Sighted Readers of Science Fiction and Fantasy

Accessibility information for this domain is available.

This site was updated in December 2006.

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The first section of this site gets you started by providing you with links to free software to access the Internet. The second section is for blind and partially sighted readers who are beginning to look for technology that will allow them to read on the Internet and on their computers. The remaining sections link to sites that may be of interest to fantasy and science fiction readers who are blind or partially sighted (low vision or visually impaired). In all cases, the sites I link to often link to many other sites.

If you're not visually impaired, be sure to read through the section entitled "General Resources for Blind and Partially Sighted Readers" in any case, because that section includes a number of sites that link to electronic texts (e-texts). You should also find plenty to interest you in the other sections of this site.

I have been selective in the sites I list, focussing on the ones that would be most helpful to readers who are on a tight budget and are looking for free or inexpensive resources.

The Web directory is edited by Dusk Peterson. If you have any questions or comments, please e-mail me.

Accessible fiction by Dusk Peterson is available, including fantasy books. More resources for blind and partially sighted readers and more nonfiction resources on genre literature are available at this domain.

Sections below:

* Getting Started

* General Resources for Blind and Partially Sighted Readers

* Online Electronic Texts of Science Fiction and Fantasy

* Online Audio of Science Fiction and Fantasy

* Related Mailing Lists

* Related Sites at This Domain

Getting Started

Free Software for Blind People. Free accessibility software for Web browsing, reading DIASY books, listening to Internet radio and podcasts, and much more.

Thunder Screenreader. A free screenreader that can be used by individuals.

NVDA. A free, open-source screenreader that is still in the development stages.

General Resources for Blind and Partially Sighted Readers

Adobe PDF Conversion. Many sites on the Web offer PDF files of text; these are image files that are read through software called Adobe Acrobe Reader. Adobe has been making it easier in recent years for the blind and partially sighted to use their Reader, but if you have trouble with their software, this conversion form will allow you to translate the image text into HTML (Web pages). The page also provides a link to Adobe and accessibility, the company's guide to accessibility issues.

American Foundation for the Blind. There are quite a few national organizations for the blind around the world. The site of this particular organization, AFB, offers a Directory of Services to blind and partially sighted Americans and Canadians who want to know what services are available in their state or province. Several reading-related categories are included. The listings also gives links to Websites. It's a good place to start if you live in North America and have recently lost your sight. AFB also offers an Introduction to Blogs, which includes information on accessibility to podcasts. AFB's online magazine AccessWorld provides helpful reviews of accessibility technology, including technology related to reading.

Apple and Microsoft both have pages explaining features they offer to disabled users.

Assistive Technology Resources Index: Links. There are many pages like this out there. I've listed this one because it links to a number of freeware and shareware programs that help blind and partially sighted people use the Internet.

The Audiobooks Information Page. An introduction to finding audio books in the United Kingdom. The list ends with a small number of free sources of books. From the tartly titled Website, Books Before We Die.

Bill Sparks' Audio, News, and Info Directory. A directory to online audio, including BlindTalk and Descriptive Videos. including radio dramas. The directory has a number of broken links, but you know you're in the right place when you discover that the Webmaster's name appears at the beginning of the site in braille.

Blind Bookworm. One individual's delightfully eccentric page of links and resources related to accessible e-books and e-texts.

Blind iPod Resource. The site says, "The following is a list of resources where you can read and listen to material relating to using portable media players if you are visually impaired."

Blind Podcasters. Links to podcasts produced by blind people or related to blindness. Part of Whitestick, a Website that, in the words of its owner, is "set up to assist the Visually Impaired computer user locate information and services relating to blindness."

The Blind Readers' Page. This Web directory offers a wealth of resources related to reading, such as links to electronic texts and online audio. You could spend days browsing through their listings.

BRL: Braille Through Remote Learning. An online course that teaches you to read braille. It's suitable for people who are sighted or partially sighted. If you want to take a traditional braille course, visit the National Library Service's page on braille literacy, the Blind Readers' Page information on braille literacy, and another site's list of Braille Code Books and Teaching Manuals.

Designing More Usable Computers and Software: Software Toolkits. Section 3 of this page, entitled "Software Toolkits," provides links to pages with free and inexpensive software programs that allow disabled people to use their computers for various tasks, including reading and writing.

Fred's Head Database. An excellently comprehensive collection of facts and tips for living with visual impairments. (Sample article title: "What Do You Do When You Can't Read.") You can search by keyword or by subject category to locate reading-related articles. This is part of the site for the American Printing House for the Blind.

National Library Service Reference Publications. Handy information from the American public library system for the blind. Includes such lists as Reading Materials in Large Print and Selected Sources for Electronic Texts.

Read 'Em and Speak: Books and Reading from a Blind Perspective. A directory similar to the Blind Readers' Page, but smaller. This is part of the massive Camera Obscura site, offering links to electronic texts and just about everything else that's reading-related, as well as a long list of links to sites offering resources on visual impairment. As one commentator put it, the site is "clearly created by someone who has lost the ability to sleep at night."

Rent Books on Tape. A list of audio book rental services. See also (in the United States) and Slim Ink Book Rental (in Australia), two online companies that rent paperpacks, sending them to you by mail – a convenient service if you can't easily visit a library.

The SuperAdaptoid Review: Browsing on a Budget or Computing on the Cheap. This site hasn't been updated for several years and is horribly difficult to navigate through, but it's brimming with information on free and inexpensive ways to use the Internet if you're blind or low vision.

What are the Different Types of Alternative Formats? An information page elsewhere on this domain. Alternative formats are reading formats that can be accessed by people who cannot read standard-sized print.

Online Electronic Texts of Science Fiction and Fantasy

Baen Free Library. Free electronic books from a major science fiction and fantasy publisher, Baen Books. No catches.

Baen WebScription. Although most readers must pay a monthly fee to access Baen Books's online e-books, people with a reading disability such as visual impairment may read the books for free. Apply for free access to WebScription through ReadAssist.

Best SF Gateway. Links to lots of online science fiction in the short fiction category.

Blackmask Online: Science Fiction. An enormous number of public domain e-texts in HTML and in various ebook formats. In addition to its collection of early science fiction titles, Blackmask scatters fantasy stories throughout the site. Fantasy and Science Fiction. A number of organizations for the blind offer electronic texts of copyrighted books to people who have proved they cannot read standard-sized print. Many countries, for example, have public library systems for the blind that offer electronic texts. But, an online library that visually impaired Americans can pay a fee to belong to, must outweigh all the other contenders in terms of sheer quantity: the last time I looked, it had nearly three thousand books in its fantasy and science fiction section alone.

Braille Book Files. A page likely to interest anyone who enjoys fantasy for young readers, such as the books of Dr. Seuss. The page is hosted by the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, and it includes a number of copyrighted books translated into braille. The books cover many genres and are listed by title. In order to download the files, you must fill out a request for a password, indicating that you are American and are qualified to use the materials. sells electronic books, audio books, and electronic magazines. It specializes in genre books, with such categories as Alternate History, Dark Fantasy, Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Star Trek. epitomizes the consumer-friendly electronic bookseller, for it tries to make as many of its books as possible available in unencrypted formats, which tend to be more accessible. The site notes whether the read-aloud function of electronic books is enabled or disabled. Many of the books are inexpensive, and the site also has sections devoted to free e-books, stories under a dollar, and tips on how to save money at Its Frequently Asked Questions section is designed for beginners.

Free Speculative Fiction Online. A well-organized site linking to online fantasy and science fiction. You can search by author, magazine, and award. The site includes links to e-zines.

The International Electronic Braille Book Library. Electronic braille versions of public domain books. Unfortunately, the books aren't divided by subject, but science fiction and fantasy authors are plentiful.

ReadAssist. A resource site put together by science fiction and fantasy fans, especially for disabled readers. Not surprisingly, the parts of it that are most helpful are those related to science fiction and fantasy. Includes information on electronic texts, audio books, assistive technology, and speculative fiction fandom.

Science Fiction and Fantasy Available in Electronic Form. A links list compiled by the organization, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Alas, the symbols that indicate whether the stories are free are in image form. If you can't see the symbols, you'll have to click on the link to learn whether it leads you to the story.

SF & Fantasy Books Online. Links to books in the public domain.

Some Antique Sci-Fi Books. Unlike a lot of Websites offering public domain books, Arthur's Classic Novels offers rarer titles, such as early science fiction pulp novels. Arthur's Classic Novels includes a number of categories likely to interest fantasy readers, such as Fairy Tales and Oz. Most of the books are in XML format (which I have not been able to check). Some of the books are in HTML format (Web pages). Also, check the Scan page for text versions of books under preparation. If you can't find the format you like, visit Blackmask Online, which has translated some of the novels at this site into other formats.

Strange Horizons: Links. Not the largest listing of speculative fiction links, which is why I've chosen it. This list provides a selective introduction to Websites related to fantasy and science fiction, including sites that offer electronic fiction. Don't forget to stop by the home page of Strange Horizons; the magazine also publishes electronic fiction.

Online Audio of Science Fiction and Fantasy

The Best Radio Drama Web Sites. Includes links to several sites offering science fiction and fantasy, such as BBC7, the OTR Plot Site, Mercury Theatre on the Air, and Seeing Ear Theatre.

Classics of Science Fiction: Audio Productions. This article offers tips on seeking and listening to audio books of science fiction.

Relative Dimensions in Audio. Fan audio, like fan fiction, is in a disputed territory of legality. Producers of the original material usually argue that fan works are illegal, but some companies are willing to overlook the fans' productions, believing that those productions don't offer any direct threat to the original product. Relative Dimensions offers a somewhat disorganized list of fan groups that produce audio works, many of which are based on science fiction shows. This page is cached, so the internal links are broken. An archive of discussions of fan audio is available at the BTR Opinion Forum.

The Rev Up Review of Speculative Fiction Podcasts. A podcast devoted to reviewing science fiction and fantasy podcasts.

Science Fiction on Radio. Links to various sites offering online and offline science fiction radio drama, as well as shows featuring interviews with science fiction authors. Part of the Website of the Great Northern Audio Theatre, which provides many links to audio production groups.

The SciFi Podcast Network. Science fiction podcasts from around the Web are rated and described.

SF for Your Ears. An introduction to science fiction and fantasy podcasts, with links.

SF Site Podcast: Audio Reviews. Audio books are a great idea . . . but how do you choose an audio book if all of the reviews of them are in print? This science fiction and fantasy site offers podcasts of audio book reviews.

SFFAudio: Science Fiction and Fantasy Audio. The site offers news, reviews, and commentaries on audio books and audio drama, both offline and online. The home page contains links to the site's subsections and to the archived pages. They have recently added a page of links to podcasts. One of the site's creators also publishes a review column elsewhere of science fiction audio books: Vox: SF For Your Ears. This site is put together by two people who obviously love their subject matter.


Audio-Visions. This list appears to be inactive. The list's description: "Basically a place to discuss any sort of audio science fiction. Doctor Who, Blakes 7, Earthsearch, Hitchhikers Guide, Deep Station Emerald, Journey into Space, BBV, Bernice Summerfield, The Slide and probably thousands more I've never heard of or thought of, they're all game for discussion." To join the list, click on the previous link or send a blank e-mail to

Blind-SF. The list's description: "The purpose of this group is for blind SF and fantasy fans to discuss books, authors, and ideas. Although the group is conceived to be for the discussion of written SF available in various formats for use by people with no or limited sight (e. g, Braille, Talking Books, audiotapes, electronic files, etc.) there is no restriction placed on the type of SF or fantasy which can be discussed." To join the list, click on the previous link or send a blank e-mail to

scifiradio. All memberships require approval from the moderator, so I was unable to access the archives while browsing. The list's description: "This is a group dedicated mostly to finding, collecting, and enjoying newer fiction based radio shows. This can cover both old time radio - OTR and new time radio - NTR shows. Also covers all aspects of using your computer to get the most out of this diverse form of audio entertainment. While this group will concentrate mostly on newer science fiction shows, everything from classic SciFi to chillers, horror, monster shows, and imaginative/speculative fiction of all types will also be covered. Instead of setting limits, I would like to leave things loose so that the group members can feel free to cover whatever they think is most interesting. Thanks and enjoy! P.S. This group supports all operating systems (Apple Mac OSX, Linux, Unix, etc.) and will generally try to avoid files in limited proprietary formats." To join the list, click on the previous link or send a blank e-mail to

sffaudio. I'm unable to access the list's archives, but this is run by the same people who run the SFFAudio site. The list's description: "SFFAudio is a group established to discuss science fiction and fantasy on audio. Audiobooks, audio drama, comedy, radio, music . . . anything you listen to is fair game. We're fans of science fiction and fantasy who enjoy the audio experience." To join the list, click on the previous link or send a blank e-mail to

sfi-disabilities. This list appears to be inactive. The list's description: "This group is to be used for members of STARFLEET the International Fan Association who have some form of disability whether it be physical, emotional, or educational. This forum will be used to discuss disabled person issues no matter what, and hopefully relate them to science fiction and star trek in general. This group is open to everyone." To join the list, click on the previous link or send a blank e-mail to


Aslan's Kin: Interfaith Fantasy and Science Fiction.

Fiction by Dusk Peterson. Fantasy series and historical fantasy series.

Gay and Lesbian Books in Alternative Formats: A Web Directory.

GLBT Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature: A Web Directory.

Historical Fantasy: Links for Readers of Historical Fiction and Fantasy.

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Creative Commons License: Some Rights ReservedThis text, or a variation on it, was originally published at Copyright © 2004-2007 Dusk Peterson. Some rights reserved. The text is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial License ( You may freely print, post, e-mail, share, or otherwise distribute the text for noncommercial purposes, provided that you include this paragraph. The author's policies on derivative works and fan works are available online (