No one should be deprived of the ability to read a book. Talking books for the vision-impaired change lives. Two of my family members are vision-impaired, including my father-in-law who is now considered catastrophically blind. Talking books have totally changed the quality of his life. I recommend this wonderful resource to anyone who is, or who has, a family member or friend has who temporary or permanent low vision, blindness, or a physical, perceptual, or reading disability that prevents them from using regular print materials.
Helen Keller was an advocate for talking books, and worked with Congress in the 1930s to establish this service. The National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled is based with the Library of Congress is a free braille and talking book library service for people with temporary or permanent low vision, blindness, or a physical, perceptual, or reading disability that prevents them from using regular print materials. Through a national network of cooperating libraries, NLS circulates books and magazines in braille or audio formats, that are instantly downloadable to a personal device or delivered by mail free of charge.
It took a long time to convince my father-in-law to try this service. But then, it takes a long time to persuade him to try anything new or different. He swears it has changed his life. “I haven’t been able to read a book for years. I feel like I have my life back.”
If you know anyone who is vision-impaired, or unable to read a book because of physical disability, please reach out to the local state branch. The service is available to any U.S. citizen.
The service can be found at https://www.loc.gov/nls/
The Arizona Talking Book Library can be found at https://azlibrary.gov/talkingbooks.
The Veterans Administration Blind Rehabilitation Services can be found at https://www.rehab.va.gov/blindrehab/.
I also want to give a shout-out to the Veterans Administration. They run an exceptional rehabilitation program for the blind. They have supplied several valuable tools that have also increased my father-in-law’s quality of life.
I am also proud to say that Henry: A Polish Swimmer’s True Story of Friendship from Auschwitz to America is available through this service.
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Thank you for this wonderful article. I am not blind but hearing impaired. I LOVE audio books because I can plug the book directly into my ear and hear it very well. i LOVE to sew and can listen to books at the same time. I won’t need these wonderful sources because it is more important that the sight impaired get them but just wanted to give you a BIG pat on the back for letting people know about these valuable resources.
Thanks for this post, Katrina. You might like to know that persons with Parkinson’s Disease often have double vision and other visual impairments, so many of them also qualify for the use of talking books. Do you have any idea if Audible Books work the same way?