When I entered the world of the bookish internet in my 20s, I loved being a book person. As my collection of bookish T-shirts and mugs grew, I also kept an eye out for other book related art, jewelry, and totes. I think it’s safe to say that at that point, loving books had become part of my personality.
But when you’re a disabled book lover, you often have to get…creative. Sometimes you can’t read print, so you switch to ebooks. Then your Kindle or iPad becomes too heavy to hold. Then you switch to screen readers, but then you need software with more features. Living in an ableist society as a book lover can quickly become a spiral of constant reminders that your reading life doesn’t look like non-disabled people’s. But that’s okay.
While constantly adjusting to new ways I need to accommodate my body, I’ve learned that creating new forms of accessibility is a chance at innovation and creativity. There’s no one way to be a die-hard book nerd. We come with all different kinds of abilities and ways to read.
So if you’re looking for ideas to accommodate your disability, or maybe you’re just looking to help out a friend in a similar situation, here are some reading accessories that you might find helpful!
When the Kindle first made its appearance, I felt incredibly excited at the new possibilities for my reading life. But at the time, I didn’t imagine it as the incredible resource for disabled people that it is. Because the Kindle isn’t backlit, you can read it without worrying about the effects of blue light. You can enlarge the text and change the font, which can help visually impaired people. And there’s a screen reader feature that will read the text to you. My Kindle made it possible for me to finish undergrad by reading two to three novels a week. I’ve worn out three Kindles in the last 15 years or so. I just love them that much. $105
If you’re like me and struggle to hold things with arthritic hands, then I can’t recommend a tablet holder enough. When my hands get tired, I can’t hold books, my Kindle, or my iPad anymore. So this iPad and book holder does the work for you. PLUS, there’s a cute little pocket in the back for your headphones. $28
Say you need to hold open a book but you have painful, arthritic hands, and you don’t own a tablet. Meet the Bee Book Holder! This gorgeous bumble bee is here to help you keep the book open without you having to hold your thumb on the book. $32
If the Bee Book Holder is a little too pricey for you, here is a little book holder for a much more affordable price. It’s pretty cute, too. $10
For folks who spend a lot of their days on the couch or in bed, the hands-free book stand holds books for them. The stand is adjustable, so readers can position their books at the perfect angle. $200
As a neurodivergent person with migraines, sound can feel incredibly overwhelming. So when I listen to audiobooks, noise canceling headphones help keep the sounds around me at a more manageable volume. $280
I often run into the issue where headphones that reach across the top of my head can cause migraines, so AirPods are a lightweight alternative when I listen to audiobooks. $175
As someone who struggles to read text, I use Apple’s built-in screen reader on my iPhone. While it’s a bit clunky, it does come with my phone, so I don’t have to pay anything out of pocket.
As a middle-tier option, Read&Write is particularly great for book lovers with learning disabilities, including a focus option and speech-to-text options. It also has specific design qualities for neurodivergent folks. $145
For a top-tier option, Dolphin is a sound and braille accessible program that reads everything from documents to ebooks to you. This powerful software makes the computer accessible to blind and visually impaired people. $955
As someone who struggles to read text of all kinds, Audm helps me read magazine and newspaper articles, something I haven’t been able to do in years. I love being able to read the latest buzzy article or author profile. $7/month
Disabled readers have become incredibly innovative, so I hope you’ve found a bookish accommodation for you! For even more accessibility options, check out 10 Excellent Book Holders for Reading in Bed.