Blind World Magazine

Urgent News for Families Hosting Blind and Physically Handicapped Children as a Result of Recent Hurricanes along the Gulf Coast.

September 08, 2005.
By U.S. National Library Service, Library of Congress, (United States).

Dear Colleague,

I would like to express my greatest admiration for everyone's dedication to those children displaced by Katrina who are deaf or hard of hearing. On behalf of the National Library Service Talking Books program, I would like to thank everyone for all of your efforts. I would also like to inform you about a wonderful free resource for host families who graciously take in displaced families with children who are blind and physically handicapped.

As students return to school all around the country, host families who take in children with disabilities may not have the resources to provide the materials for blind and physically handicapped students. Yet, 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 obtain difficulty in obtaining such materials in a format they can read, especially in the wake of such a great catastrophe. 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 the students at no cost. For blind and physically handicapped people, this nationwide program delivers classic literature, bestsellers and many magazines to keep them up to speed and on top of their studies. For host families who may not have the resources to care for a child with a disability, NLS Talking Books acts as a way of giving that host family a free method of providing the best and most comfortable living situation they can for their newly adopted family.

I would be thrilled if you could share the information about this no cost program that can help host families who take in displaced families with blind or physically handicapped children. Please encourage host families to call 1-888-NLS-READ (1-888-657-7323) or go to for a directory of cooperating local libraries participating in the Talking Books program and for enrollment information.

Please let me know if you are able to feature a link to and description of the Talking Books on your Web site.

At this time, it is important to think of any and all ways to help the families devastated by Hurricane Katrina. The National Library Service Talking Books program is committed to the needs of the blind and physically handicapped and offers our assistance in any way possible.

Best Wishes,

Stephanie Holbrook, on behalf of the National Library Service, Library of Congress
Washington, DC.

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