Blind World Magazine


Free talking-book program helps the blind to access resources they need to succeed.





August 29, 2005.
(NLS), Library of Congress.




As students return to school, one national program is working to ensure that blind and physically handicapped learners have access to much of the same reading materials as their peers.


While opportunities for blind and physically handicapped individuals continue to grow, many of these students still experience difficulty in obtaining such materials in a format they can read. Without access to adequate resources, they may be discouraged from learning and completing their education.


According to research by the American Foundation for the Blind, only 45 percent of individuals with severe impairment or blindness receive a high school diploma, compared to 80 percent among fully sighted individuals.


Talking Books, a free program offered by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), Library of Congress, helps provide eligible students with the reading materials they need to succeed. Through its national network of cooperating libraries, NLS mails books and magazines on cassette and in braille, as well as audio equipment, directly to enrollees at no cost. Nearly 40,000 blind and physically handicapped students are being served by NLS through the talking-book program. "We are thrilled that our collection includes reading materials that will help students meet their literature requirements and keep abreast of their personal interests," says Frank Kurt Cylke, NLS director. "The talking-book program is committed to providing patrons -- students included -- the opportunity to stay connected to the world around them." For blind and physically handicapped students, this nationwide program delivers classic literature, bestsellers, and many magazines to keep them up to speed and on top of their studies.


"Talking Books connected me to the reading material I needed to complete class assignments and prepare for tests," says seventeen year-old Amy Herstein, a recent high school graduate from Ellicott City, Maryland. "Most important, it offered me the same access to literature that my classmates had at the public library." Blind since birth, Herstein credits Talking Books with giving her the ability to excel in subjects such as history, English, and literature from elementary school through secondary education. A ten-year participant in the program, Herstein expects to continue using Talking Books as a student at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.


The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), Library of Congress, administers the talking-book program, a free library service available to eligible individuals of any age living in the U.S. or American citizens living abroad whose low vision, blindness, or physical handicap makes reading a standard printed page difficult. Through its national network of regional libraries, NLS mails books and magazines on cassette and in braille, as well as audio equipment, directly to enrollees at no cost.


For further information on eligibility requirements and enrollment procedures visit http://www.loc.gov/nls or call 1-888-NLS-READ (1-888-657-7323).


SOURCE The Library of Congress. Web Site: http://www.loc.gov/nls




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