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Freely Available Reading and Other Resources During the COVID-19 Pandemic

NNELS has gathered and reviewed resources that might be useful to people with print disabilities, during COVID-19.

Main categories are at heading level 1; each resource is at a heading level 2, followed by a short description (if available); links, and in some cases, useful tips for accessing the resource, are at heading level 3. In the Museums and Galleries section, level 2 headings indicate museum categories, and level 3 headings indicate specific institutions.


Free Ebooks and Audiobooks

The following is a list of free ebook resources that are opening up during the pandemic.

Project Gutenberg

An online library of over 60, 000 free eBooks. Project Gutenberg ebooks are mostly older literary works, most published before 1924, with some published in the decades after. This collection mostly created and curated by volunteers. Multiple file formats including HTML, EPUB with no images, EPUB with images, Kindle, Plane Text UTF-8.


These public domain audiobooks are free for anyone to listen to, on their computers or mobile devices.


Once you find the book you want to listen to, there is a download option to the right of the book. In a desktop, when selecting Download, a Zip file is automatically downloaded to your computer.


manybooks has more than 50,000 free ebooks in different genres waiting to be discovered. They offer the following formats: ePub, Mobi, PDF, Azw3, Fb2, HTML, PBD, RTF, TXT. Files are downloaded to your computer.


You need to create an account to use this site. Choosing a genre leads you to books, which have a Free Download option. If you click it, it gives you an option to create an account with your name and email.


This online ebook provider has a Public Domain page with thousands of free ebooks. Browse by genre. There are books in 5 languages including English.


Once you select a book and click “Download,” an EPUB is downloaded to your computer.

Stories hosted by Audible

You can explore Audible’s freely available audiobooks by categories such as age group (e.g. elementary, tween, teen, and “littlest listeners”) and genre (e.g. fairy tales and literary classics), and language (including Spanish, French, German, and more).

Note: You do not need an account for these options.


Books have reviews. There is also a synopsis of the books with author, illustrator and time of the audio.

The audio version of the books is available to listen to by clicking the button.

Sesame Street Ebooks

110 titles are available to download through major ebook platforms with no expiration date at the moment.

Books can be downloaded through Amazon Kindle, Apple Books, Google Play, Barnes & Noble, Nook, or Kobo

Note: You need to create an account or have a pre-existing account. You can enter with a library card number if your library subscribes to the service. On the Sesame Street Ebooks Registration Page, there is a dropdown list of registered libraries to choose from.


Epic! has thousands of Children's ebooks. There are parent and educator options for accounts to choose on the main page, and the first month is free.

Note: It is necessary to create an account (and enter a promo code or payment information when creating the account).

Visit Epic! to register an account

Freely Available Bookshare Books

Bookshare offers public domain books that anyone, including non-members, can read with Bookshare Web Reader and other compatible tools.

How to search for freely available books on Bookshare


Check out these hand-curated lists of recommended freely available titles:


Non-members can access the Free Available Books in Bookshare’s Advanced Search option. There are still a variety of genres and reading levels with categories of books.

It is necessary to create an account to access these books; there are categories for accounts for students, teachers and adults. You have to confirm you agree to the terms of reference, having a print disability. To create the account they ask for contact information, date of birth, country and then there is a confirmation question that you need proof of a disability – which is from a doctor’s note or from a service provider or educator. Currently, it is possible to skip this step and go to the electronic signature, where you type your name, and then press the button to verify.

In Advanced Search on the top menu option, there are further options, including a search category of Freely Available Books, and it is possible to narrow by genre, author, title or other features. The list to the right has the alphabetical listing of books by author.

Once in a book, you can select the “Read Now” option and it brings up a settings dialogue box with options for text like font and size and page turning options, as well as audio.

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Streaming Read-Aloud Stories

LeVar Burton Podcast

LeVar Burton is reading books and short stories on his podcast. LeVar’s narration blends with gorgeous soundscapes to bring stories by Neil Gaiman, Haruki Murakami, Octavia Butler, Ray Bradbury and more to life.


There is a list of clickable links with the book title and author. There is a play button at the left of the listed book item. There is a synopsis and books are read like a show. There is a stop button and the time lapsed in the book is accessible. There are fast forward and rewind buttons.

Goodnight Dolly Youtube Channel

Dolly Parton started a YouTube Channel where she reads children's stories every night.

StoryOnline Youtube Channel

A YouTube channel where celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, Chrissy Metz, Kristen Bell, Wanda Sykes, Sarah Silverman and many more read stories that children will love. Each video also has moving illustrations from the book to keep children even more entertained.

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VitalSource’s Bookshelf program is available to students, instructors and colleges during the COVID-19 outbreak who may need access both online and offline. Up to 7 titles may be accessed during this time.


This opportunity is currently set to run through May 25, 2020 in the United States, April 30 in Canada, and June 30 in the UK and Ireland. If colleges have different semester dates and require longer access this may be arranged.

The service is available to any student with a .edu student email address and in the case of organizations who use different email suffixes, alternative arrangements will be made.


JSTOR and ArtStor online Academic Journal

They have an Open Access Book and Journal Collection. Their book collection includes 600 out-of-print books published by El Colegio de Mexico, as well as other Spanish-language books. The books can be read online, or download a PDF.



Some of the links may not work when clicking them with a screen reader, but it is possible to open them by copying the link into a browser. The books appear to be scanned images.

For journals, the option to Download PDF is at the right of the title. It is a searchable PDF which can be read by screen readers.

Exercise and Wellness and Eyes Free Fitness®: Exercise Programs for the Blind

“This is the home of a complete set of the Eyes-Free Fitness® audio exercise programs. All programs are completely free for your downloading pleasure -- no strings attached. These programs allow you to stretch, strengthen, condition, and tone your body, all without the benefit of eyesight."

All of these programs are thoroughly described and have supplementary audio and text materials, for those who may need them.

COVID-19: Useful Resources for Persons with Disabilities compiled by the Rick Hansen Foundation

The Rick Hansen Foundation compiled a variety of resources to help people keep up to date with the latest information, and look after their physical and mental well-being.

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Museums and Galleries

This is a perfect time to explore art and history. The list below contains links to Canadian museums, which are providing online access to many of their collections, including descriptions of art objects.

Adult Focus on Human Rights Issues:

Canadian Museum for Human Rights

A museum dedicated to telling stories of stories related to human rights through history and in the present.

Under Exhibitions and Events menu, there are new features added such additions to galleries. Under Stories menu, are curated stories on a variety of subjects that include text, images, captions and videos.

More National Museums and Galleries:

Tallest Buildings in the World

Learn about the tallest buildings in the world! This website includes exciting facts and details about the tallest buildings around the world. If you are interested in architecture, engineering, and modern marvels, check out this page. (Special thanks to Amelia for submitting this!)

Road Trip from Home: Virtual Field Trips

Take a virtual field trip by checking out a few of the museums, buildings, spaces, and places gathered in this collection! Great for explorers and learners of all ages. (Special thanks to Ben and Luke for sending this in!)

Canadian Museum of History

Tells Canada’s story to the world.

Scroll down to the Online Exhibitions tab to the Harbinson Collection with artifacts of furnishings, art, sculptures to learn history from these items.

Canadian Museum of Nature

This is home to one of the world's largest and finest natural history collections.

Check out the Research and Collections Menu to discover the museum’s data collection, research and archives of information.

Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21

Demonstrates the importance of immigration in building Canada.

Explore the blog with interesting questions connecting history and current issues. There are educational resources under Research, there is a list of items to explore including Collections with historical facts and stories.

Canadian War Museum

Explore Canada’s complicated history by clicking the centre tab Explore the link Museum at Home. See Canada’s stories of honour for veterans and historical facts.

There are artifacts, and recreation like hockey. Good for study of Canada’s history.

National Gallery of Canada

Has collections of historic and contemporary works of art to engage visitors of all ages.

Be fascinated by intricate, fascinating and moving works of art, under Collections menu tab, you can look at an  list of artists and mediums with number of pieces listed. The art is featured with a description and its medium. There is a Research tab that lists previous exhibitions, publications and arts grants. Great for inspiration, creativity or people interested in the arts.

Homeschool Educational Experience Family Focus:

Ingenium Canada

This site contains links to three main national museums:

  • Canada Agriculture and Food Museum, a demonstration farm in the heart of the city, connects Canadians and the world to agricultural science and technology.
  • Canada Aviation and Space Museum, a collection tells the story of humankind’s ancient dream of flight and the significant role played by Canadians.
  • Canada Science and Technology Museum features a world-class collection of Canadian scientific and technical innovations.

There are interactive educational programs in these separate museums by subjects by level and category as well as fields of interest. They are alphabetical and you can try interactive lessons in science and helps with school assignments and research, with a fun and enjoyable format.

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