Audiobooks for Students with Disabilities: Comparing BookShare and Learning Ally

Posted by Erica Warren on

Audiobooks are wonderful learning options that make reading accessible to students with a variety of learning preferences as well as disabilities.  For some time, they have been available at a cost on sites like where books are read by actors or authors.  However, they are often a costly choice that many can not afford.   Luckily, free options on sites like Project Gutenberg and others are wonderful, but sadly they only offer audiobooks that are in the public domain.  What about individuals with visual impairments, physical disabilities and learning disabilities that impact reading? Are there any options for this population of learners?  
Bookshare vs. Learning Ally
Audiobooks for Individuals with Disabilities that Impact Reading:
Both BookShare and Learning Ally are two online sites that offer audiobooks for individuals with print-based disabilities.  They conduct business under the exception to U.S. copyright law which permits the availability of copyrighted text to people with qualifying disabilities.  BookShare and Learning Ally safeguards that only qualified individuals can use this service by requiring applicants to register as members and provide proof of disability.

Who Can Certify a Disability for Membership?

School Affiliated:
  • Special education teacher
  • Learning disability specialist
  • Teacher of the visually impaired
  • School psychologist
  • Resource specialist
Medical Professionals:


  • Family doctor
  • Physical therapist
  • Ophthalmologist
  • Optometrist
  • Neurologist
  • Psychiatrist
  • Clinical psychologist
Other Certification:
  • Prior Certification with Learning Ally or BookShare

How Do BookShare and Learning Ally Compare?

BookShare and Learning Ally are constantly upgrading their systems and adding new materials. So the following table is up to date as of October 2014:
date as of October 2014

Where Can I Learn More?

Besides the websites of BookShare and Learning Ally, you can also check out their brochures:

BookShare Brochures:
Learning Ally Brochures: 
Each person will have their own preference when choosing a audiobook provider, however, to assure people with print disabilities have access to all the resources they need, consider joining both BookShare and Learning Ally.

Cheers, Dr. Erica Warren
Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator, and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning. She is also the director of Learning to Learn and Learning Specialist Courses.
· Blog:
· YouTube Channel:
· Podcast:
· Store: 
· Courses:
· Newsletter Sign-up:

Share this post

← Older Post Newer Post →

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published.