Blind World Magazine

NLS Pledges Continuing Support for Our Nation's Veterans.

National Library Service for The Blind and Physically Handicapped.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006.

This Memorial Day, while the nation mourns those veterans who gave their lives for their country, the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), Library of Congress, honors them by celebrating living veterans. The NLS talking-book program loans eligible individuals a wide selection of recorded books and magazines and playback equipment at no cost. The free library service is available to any veteran or other person who cannot read standard print or handle books.

"Talking Books is invaluable to veterans on several levels," said Tom Miller, executive director of the Blinded Veterans Association (BVA). "As program patrons and volunteers, they remain independent, stay connected with the outside world, and improve the quality of their lives."

The talking-book program has long been popular with veterans and veteran groups, who also play vital roles in the service itself. Many assist NLS as machine-repair volunteers, ensuring that the essential audio playback machines sent to patrons work properly. NLS also consults with visually impaired veterans when developing its services. Program advancements, such as the diverse selection of reading material available to patrons, have resulted from veteran input.

"Memorial Day presents a special opportunity to acknowledge our gratitude for these former members of the U.S. armed forces," said Frank Kurt Cylke, NLS director. "NLS is proud to serve those who have served our country, and the program simply would not be the same without them."

Through a national network of regional libraries, NLS mails recorded and braille books and magazines, including music instruction materials, along with specially designed playback equipment to individuals unable to read or use standard print materials because of visual or physical impairments. Since 1931, under the Pratt-Smoot Act, NLS has offered priority lending of its materials to honorably discharged blind and physically handicapped military personnel.

Of the 25 million U.S. veterans alive today nearly 160,000 are blind, and it is estimated that an additional one million have low vision, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Numbers are expected to increase considerably as veterans get older and develop age-related conditions such as macular degeneration.

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 U.S. residents 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. Further information on eligibility requirements and enrollment procedures for the program is available at

or 1-888-NLS-READ (1-888-657-7323).

SOURCE The Library of Congress.

Web Site:

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