Biographies and Autobiographies of Individuals with Vision Loss
Reading grade levels are noted when available. Titles marked with an asterisk are out-of-print and are therefore unavailable for purchase, but may well be available through local public libraries or interlibrary loan services.
Alexander, S. H. (1994). Taking Hold: My Journey into Blindness. New York: Macmillan.
A 24-year-old woman tells of her experiences learning to adjust to losing her vision. Available in audio and braille formats.
Alexander, S. H. (1997). On My Own: The Journey Continues. New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux.
Sequel to Taking Hold, this book continues the author's experiences as a woman who is blind. Available in audio and braille formats.
* Birch, B. (1989). Louis Braille. Milwaukee, WI: Gareth Stevens Children's Books.
A biography of Louis Braille and the system of writing and reading that bears his name.
Bocelli, A., & Pugliese, S. (translator). (2001). The Music of Silence: A Memoir. San Francisco: Harper Entertainment.
This is the Italian tenor's autobiography, detailing his lifelong love of music and the importance of his family's support as he earned a law degree and pursued his stage career. Available in large print and audio formats.
Chambers, D. (2005). Words in My Hands: A Teacher, A Deaf-Blind Man, An Unforgettable Journey. Conifer, CO: Ellexa Press.
A true story about an elderly deaf-blind man who played classical piano. The author met him when he was 86 years old when she was hired to be his teacher. While the story illustrates psychosocial factors that complicate the disabilities of deafness and deaf-blindness, it carries an inspiration message as well. This book is a resource for educators, rehabilitation counselors, and other professionals who work or interact with the deaf, blind, elderly, or disabled. This book shows how miracles can happen where there are dedicated professionals and caregivers.
Champlin, C. (2001). My Friend, You Are Legally Blind: A Writer's Struggle with Macular Degeneration. Santa Barbara, CA: Daniel & Daniel Publishers.
The author's autobiographical account of how macular degeneration has affected his career as a writer.
Freedman, R. (1997). Out of Darkness: The Story of Louis Braille. New York: Clarion Books.
A children's biography of Louis Braille illustrated by Kate Kiesler. Available in audio and braille formats; grades 3-6.
* Gill, D., & Sullivan, T. (1976). Tom Sullivan's Adventures in Darkness. New York: David McKay Company, Inc.
Stories of the childhood, adolescence and early adulthood of Tom Sullivan, a singer and composer who lost his vision at birth due to retinopathy of prematurity. Available in audio and braille formats; grades 5-8.
Gitter, E. (2001). The Imprisoned Guest: Samuel Howe and Laura Bridgman, the original deaf-blind girl. New York: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux.
The biography of Laura Bridgman, Samuel Howe's first deaf-blind student at Perkins School for the Blind and Helen Keller's predecessor.
* Haskins, J. (1976). The Story of Stevie Wonder. New York: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Co.
Biography of the Grammy award winning singer and composer. Available in audio format; grades 7-12.
* Hocken, S. (1977). Emma and I. London: Victor Gollancz, Ltd.
The story of Sheila Hocken and her dog guide, Emma, and their life together even after Sheila regains her sight. Available in audio, braille, and large print formats.
Hull, J. M. (1990). Touching the Rock: An Experience of Blindness. New York: Pantheon Books.
Autobiography of a university lecturer who gradually loses his vision. Available in audio and braille formats.
Keller, H. (1905). The Story of My Life. Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Co.
An autobiography of Helen Keller; including excerpts from her letters. Available in audio and braille formats; grades 9 and up.
Kleege, G. (1999). Sight Unseen. New York: Yale University Press.
The author's candid description of what blindness has meant to her and those surrounding her in eight essays. Available in audio and braille formats.
Kordi, G. (1993). An Iranian odyssey. London: Serpent's Tail.
The autobiography of an Iranian woman, who lost her vision due to small pox, in which she chronicles the difficulties of gaining an education and independence as a woman with a disability in Iran.
* Krents, H. (1972). To Race the Wind. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons.
The autobiography of the young blind man who was the inspiration for the Broadway play "Butterflies Are Free." Available in audio, braille, and large print formats; grades 10-adult.
Kurson, R. (2007). Crashing Through: A True Story of Risk, Adventure, and the Man Who Dared to See. New York: Random House.
The story of how Mike May, Sendero Group president and pioneering GPS user, underwent a revolutionary stem cell transplant surgery that restored a significant amount of his vision.
Kuusisto, S. (1998). Planet of the Blind. New York: The Dial Press.
An autobiography of the poet in which he chronicles his struggle to come to terms with his visual impairment. Available in audio and braille formats.
Lash, J. P. (1980). Helen and Teacher: The Story of Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan Macy. New York: Delacorte Press.
An exhaustive biography of Helen Keller and her teacher, Anne Sullivan Macy. Available in audio format; senior high and up.
Lawhorn, G. (1991). On Different Roads: An Autobiography. New York: Vantage Press.
A deaf-blind woman's autobiography. Available in audio format.
* Little, J. (1988). Little by Little. New York: Viking Press.
The education and development of one of Canada's leading children's authors, who has been nearly blind since birth. Available in audio and braille formats.
McMahon, P. (1995). Listen For the Bus: David's Story. Honesdale, PA: Boyds Mill Press.
The story of David, who is blind and hearing-impaired, as he begins kindergarten. Available in braille format; grades 2-4.
Neer, F. L. (2000). Breaking Barriers: Blind Rites of Passage: The ExtraordinaryStories of Uncommon People. Berkeley, CA: Creative Arts Book Company.
A collection of stories by people with visual impairments, told in their own words, detailing their uncommon lives and their achievements.
* Putnam, P. (1952). Keep Your Head Up, Mr. Putnam. New York: Harper & Row.
Recounts the author's experiences at the Seeing Eye School in Morristown, New Jersey after losing his sight while a student at Princeton University. Available in audio format.
* Resnick , R. (1975). Sun and Shadow. New York: Atheneum.
Blind since childhood, the author relates her life from impoverished beginnings in New York's Lower East Side to her success as a professional musician and social worker in San Francisco. Available in audio and braille formats.
* Russell, R. (1962). To Catch an Angel. Vanguard Press
Biography of a man who was blinded at age five and studied at Oxford before becoming a college teacher. Available in audio, braille, and large print formats.
Scadden, L. (2008). Surpassing Expectations: My Life Without Sight. Philadelphia, PA: Xlibris Corporation.
In high school, despite the author's passion for, and acumen in, math and science, he was counseled to avoid higher education in these fields because there would not be employment opportunities for a blind man in these disciplines. The book is a memoir which describes the activities that brought him international acclaim as a scientist, policymaker, and advocate. The memoir describes legislation the author drafted which enhanced computer usability for people with disabilities. He also recounts incidents that occurred during numerous foreign travels, invitations to speak and advise in venues such as the White House and Universal Television studios, and interactions with famous people from Swedish Queen Silvia to Geraldo Rivera.
* Smithdas, R. J. (1958). Life at My Fingertips. Garden City, NY: Doubleday.
Story of the author who is deaf-blind, and his education and accomplishments. Available in audio and braille formats.
* Sullivan, T. (1975). If You Could See What I Hear. New York: Harper & Row.
Autobiography of musician Tom Sullivan who became blind shortly after birth. Available in audio and braille formats.
Vermeij, G. J. (1998). Privileged Hands: A Scientific Life. New York: W.H. Freeman and Company.
A memoir by a marine biologist, probably the world's leading authority on marine mollusks, who has been blind since early childhood. Available in audio and braille formats.
Vreeland, S. (1988). What Love Sees. Thorndike, ME: Thorndike Press.
The story of Forrest and Jean Holy and their experiences as a couple and as parents who are both totally blind in California from the 1940s to 1970s. Available in audio, braille, large print formats.
Weihenmayer, E. (2001). Touch the Top of the World: A Blind Man's Journey to Climb Farther than the Eye Can See. New York: Dutton.
An autobiographical account of the author's mountain climbing efforts. Available in audio format.
*Wiley, S. (1995). Little Stevie Wonder in Places under the Sun. Racine, WI: Golden Books New York, Western Publishing Company, Inc.
This is a children's book, illustrated by Joel Schick, with sounds and voice by Steve Wonder, that describes Wonder's trip to Japan with his friends to play a concert. Available in print and braille format.