Talking Books Aid Visually Impaired, Physically Disabled

(NewsUSA) Whether for escape, enlightenment, or pure joy, books allow us to connect to other places and times. Fortunately for the millions of Americans who have impaired vision or a physical disability, there are braille and talking books from the National Library Service NLS.

NLS is the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, part of the Library of Congress. Established in 1931, the organization’s mission is to enrich the lives of its patrons by offering them books, magazines, music scores, and other materials in audio and braille at no charge. Unlike traditional audiobooks that are provided at public libraries or sold at retail bookstores, audiobooks offered by NLS are unabridged, extensive and diverse, and are designed specifically for people who are unable to read regular print.

NLS provides its services to any U.S. resident or U.S. citizen living abroad who is blind, has low vision, or has a physical disability that makes it difficult to hold a book. Thousands of bestsellers, classics, biographies, nonfiction works, and more can be downloaded from the Internet or ordered for home delivery through a nationwide network of cooperating libraries.

Those with cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, loss of the use of their arms or hands, or prolonged

Talking Book Player

weakness can access the NLS collection. So, too, can people with temporary limitations resulting from strokes or accidents.

Now avid readers like San Francisco resident Ivana Kirola, 38, who suffers from cerebral palsy, can continue to satisfy their interests, which for Kirola range from politics, to travel, to music

“I really appreciate the services from NLS,” Kirola says. “They help me in my daily life, in understanding people and keeping up to date with the news. My favorite part of NLS is the widened horizons that reading audiobooks gives to me.”

Along with her love of books, Kirola attends a yoga class at the San Francisco Library—one of NLS’s regional partners.

“The thing that has helped me is to remain persistent in what I would like to experience,” says Kirola. “Sometimes what you need is elusive, but it’s important not to give up. There are solutions for everything, but sometimes it takes persistence to find out what they are.”

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6 thoughts on “Talking Books Aid Visually Impaired, Physically Disabled”

  1. This is interesting information. I was not aware of it, but I can see it being very useful for a lot of people.

    Do you know how somebody would go about creating the content. In other words, who provides the voice-over work and is it something anyone can apply for?

    1. Thank you for a great question Eddie

      ACX ( ) is a marketplace where authors, literary agents, publishers, and other Rights Holders can connect with narrators, engineers, recording studios, and other Producers capable of producing a finished audiobook.

      If you are the book’s rights’ holder-You decide how your audiobook is produced, who narrates it, and select your distribution channels.

      Every audiobook you make on ACX will be available on,, and iTunes, but also if you grant Audible exclusive distribution rights, then you’ll earn royalties of 40%.

      Regards, Ron

  2. Kirola sounds like a very determined person to make her own way in the world while not letting any type of disability limit her. Everyone deserves an equal chance to enjoy the world they live in and have some sort of escapism to another world. Glad that the NLS is doing this for the disabled people, who are essentially people with abilities. Love it

    1. Hi Jagi

      Kirola determined? I wish I was half as determined!!!

      NLS is definitely progressive. Books are selected for the NLS collection on the basis of their appeal across a wide range of interests. Bestsellers, biographies, fiction, and how-to books are in great demand. The collection includes books in Spanish and a few titles in other languages. Books for youth—from preschool to young adult—are provided in audio, braille, and print/braille. I could brag forever for this organization!



  3. I’ve worked with the elderly and I’ll tell you that talking books are a godsend to someone who has lost their sight.
    I didn’t realize though, that NLS had a selection more diverse and unabridged.
    The people I talked to about it were using a local library and the selection was limited. Good to know. Thanks!

    1. Hi Geoff

      Thanks for dropping in and sharing your thoughts

      While its extensive collection of braille and talking books is available in the United States only through its cooperating libraries, NLS provides some services directly to patrons:

      Music scores in braille and large print, and instructional materials in braille and audio. This collection, which excludes musical performances, is the largest of its kind in the world, providing NLS patrons with more than 25,000 titles.Certification in braille transcribing and proofreading, available through the National Federation of the Blind, Jernigan Institute. Courses are offered in literary, mathematics, and music transcribing as well as literary and mathematics proofreading.Overseas services to citizens of the United States living in other countries.Reference publications that provide information of interest to people with visual or physical disabilities and their families; educators; caregivers; and professionals.

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