Through a national network of co-operating libraries, NLS administers a free library program of braille and audio materials circulated to those with physical, visual, and reading disabilities in the United States by postage-free mail.
Audio books provide an opportunity for a blind child to experience the wonder of Harry Potter books, the whimsical stories by Cat In The Hat, mysteries, documentaries, etc. With the professional actors telling the story they can enjoy any type of genre available. They can not read the books or watch the movies but can listen to the audio books, which is also a great experience.
Audio books are useful for many demographics of the population - Elderly people could go on "reading" audio books when they are not capable of reading books any more, busy career people can listen to business journals and magazines via audio books, children can listen to audio books of a higher level than they are able to read, etc.
However, it seems that one of the demographic groups that may gain the most from audio, or talking, books is not using them yet. There are approximately 10 million blind and visually impaired people in the United States alone. Audio books can enhance their life personally and professionally.
Audio books can take blind people's education one step forward. Learning foreign languages, poetry, literature, English grammar etc. could be optimized using audio books. Did you know that there are approximately 93,600 visually impaired or blind students in the United States
'That All May Read' is a free national library program of braille and recorded materials for blind and physically handicapped persons that is administered by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (www.loc.gov/nls/) (NLS), Library of Congress.
ELIGIBILITY - Any of the over 2 million residents of the United States or American citizens living abroad, who are unable to read or use standard printed materials as a result of temporary or permanent visual or physical limitations, may use this service.
PROCEDURE - Reading materials and playback machines are sent to borrowers and returned to libraries by postage-free mail. Braille books, magazines, and music materials are also made available on the Internet through Web-Braille.
BOOKS - The book collection includes bestsellers, biographies, fiction, and how-to books. A limited number of titles are produced in Spanish.
MUSIC - The national music collection contains more than twenty thousand titles.
The collection consists of scores in braille and large print; textbooks and books about music in braille and large print; music appreciation cassettes, including interviews and opera lectures; and self-instructional cassettes for voice, piano, organ, electronic keyboard, guitar, recorder, accordion, banjo, harmonica, and other instruments.
Braille scores and books are also available on the Internet.
EQUIPMENT - Playback equipment is loaned free to readers for as long as they borrow recorded materials provided by NLS and its cooperating libraries.
Readers with very limited mobility may request a remote-control unit.
Hearing-impaired readers may be eligible for an auxiliary amplifier for use with headphones. A cassette machine designed primarily for persons with limited manual dexterity is also available.
Texas Talking Book Program:
Provides a free library service to Texans of all ages who are unable to read standard print material due to visual, physical, or reading disabilities-whether permanent or temporary. Books and magazines are available in different formats, mainly on cassette, but also in braille and large print. Best of all, books are delivered right to your door. All of the items are sent and returned through the mail free of charge. The program offers more than 80,000 titles in fiction and nonfiction, plus 80 national magazines for adults and children - www.tsl.state.tx.us/tbp/
South Carolina State Library's Talking Book Services:
The South Carolina State Library's Talking Book Services department provides informational and recreational reading materials in accessible formats. The program serves South Carolinians unable to use conventional print due to a physical disability - www.statelibrary.sc.gov/Talking-Book-Services/
Ask your local public librarian for more information about the program and how to apply for service or online at the National Library Service, Library of Congress. For other down-loadable books there are a number of quality online book stores to surf.
The benefits of audio books cross every population demographic. If you belong to the blind and visually impaired segment of the population you have a great resource to be able to enjoy a good book or music through the 'That All May Read' program. There is no time like now to enjoy a good book.