The Most Accessible IOS App for reading College Textbooks?

iOS and iPadOS

Hello, all.

Each semester that I have attended college, the same issue exists--the Disability Support Office never has my books in a timely manner. While you can get books from BookShare and Learning Ally, these sites do not always contain the necessary materials.

What I'm wondering if it is possible to utilize a mainstream app such as Kindle to read my college textbooks. Just for experimentation purposes, I downloaded Kindle and purchased one of my college textbooks. Immediately, I noticed that with VoiceOver enabled, there is no way to flick through the text, and the only way it seems that you can directly interact with it is by continuously reading with VO. Mostly, I prefer reading with Braille and was wondering if it is possible to "turn the pages individually" with a Braille Display? Further, since my discipline requires that I submit many book reviews, does a method exist to bookmark specific passages and then return to that location later, and if so, how is this done?
Thanks, and I appreciate your assistance.



Submitted by Jordyn C on Thursday, August 27, 2015

Hi Nathan,

I have read a college textbook using the Kindle app. I've found it easiest to either use continuous reading, or drag my finger down through the text or navigate by line. You can bookmark a specific part of the text by dragging your finger around the page to find the place you want to bookmark, and then double-tap on the screen to make the menu appear. If you flick through the options, you'll find "Bookmark." You can also double-tap and hold to select text, and when you lift your finger, options will come up for highlighting it, copying it, adjusting the boundaries of what text is selected, creating a note at that point in the book, etc. If you tap the option in the menu called "Notebook" this will show the parts of the book you have bookmarked and the notes you've placed in the book.

If you are using a Braille display while reading, there is a setting in VoiceOver's Braille settings called "Turn Pages when Panning." If this setting is turned on, the pages will turn automatically when you are panning the display. If you turn this off, you can turn the pages manually using space + dots 1 3 5 to go to the right, and space + dots 2 4 6 to go to the left.

I have also used Voice Dream reader to read textbooks on Bookshare and the iBooks app as well.



Submitted by Roxann Pollard on Thursday, August 27, 2015

To add more comments from Jordyn C... After marking your book as suggested from the previous post, then you can go to your Amazon Kindle page and get a copy of the actual highlighted passages and paste them into another location, for further editing, in a program such as MS Word.

Go to: Click on the "Your Highlights" link and then sign into your Amazon account. After doing this, you will see the title of the book and all highlighted passages pertaining to that book. Click on the link of the passage you wish to copy and then you have the ability to take it elsewhere to be utilized in some way such as writing a book review, etc. I have used this method even in a non-college book and found it quite useful.


Submitted by Diego Garibay on Thursday, August 27, 2015

I use this application to read my books. It works very well when the office for my college provides them in PDF format. They just get it out of a database they have and send it through email. I connect to my braille display and I can read them and Braille as well. It makes for a very fast way to get your books on time.

Hi, everyone.

Thank you for your comments; all are appreciated! Regarding VoiceDream Reader, I do have the application installed on my Iphone, and it works extremely well. The issue with my Disability Office is getting the PDF files in a timely manner, so I thought Kindle would be an excellent work-around. Another blind student at my university is using it exclusively in all of her classes to read her textbooks.

Still, however, I have further questions. Instead of having to drag ones finger to the desired location to add a bookmark, is it possible to select the text on a Braille Display to accomplish the same thing?
Thanks, and I look forward to your responses. Personally, I haven't tried the app with my display yet but plant to today.

Submitted by Melissa Roe on Saturday, August 29, 2015

Hello everyone,
Recently, I had a college textbook that I couldn't pay for at the very beginning of the semester due to an error with the pel grants. Nevertheless, I faced a dilemma. I could either rent the book for cheap and scan them manually with my open book and pearl camera, which would be tedious at best, or I could wait til half the semester passed by and hope I had the money to purchase the book, then wait for the book to be scanned by the alternative media specialists at our DSPS office. A student from another college came to me and helped me solve this problem, so I thought I would talk about this resource, because for one, I think it's helpful thanks to its cheap rental and its accessibility reader feature while reading the books online. I also downloaded their IOS app, and while I found the bookshelf and the route of the app to be very accessible, I didn't find the book reading experience to be very easy.
The site to go to is
I found the rentals to be cheap. What originally would have costed me 280 dollars ended up costing me 43 bucks to rent for the semester, and it was an EBook with the accessibility reader that could be enabled, and stays enabled throughout the course of you reading this book unless you email them and tell them to turn it off. This site worked out for me because there are books that are not available on bookshare or Kindle or any other accessible medium for downloading electronic books. They have an IOS app, and as I said before, logging in and viewing your bookshelf is very easy, but getting into the actual book was difficult at the time when I rented a book for last semester. If someone wants to use course smart, again the site is and download the IOS app to give it a try, let us know how it works out. I find this to be the last resort for cheap books available to us within minutes without the inconvenience of paying for expensive books that will not be available until it has been converted to an alternative format. Give this resource a try if it helps you. I hope this helps! Take care, have a blessed day, and happy studying.

Since it is not possible at this time to read Coursesmart textbooks in the Coursesmart IOS app, I thought I'd mention a quick note to anyone who wants to use the Coursesmart web reader to read books with VoiceOver on the Mac or in Safari on IOS:

When I used it last semester for my textbook, VoiceOver would read each page as a continuous block of text with no way to navigate by headings, line, paragraph, etc. Taking a more in depth look at the Coursesmart site, I found that this was because the book was not tagged for increased accessibility. So, if you find VO doing this, email the email address and ask them to tag it for you. This does take some time, so the earlier you do this, the easier your book will be to navigate.

More Like This