Talking Book and Braille Library (TBBL) is a free braille and talking book library service for people with temporary or permanent low vision, blindness, or a physical disability that prevents them from reading or holding the printed page. Through a national network of cooperating libraries, TBBL offers books the way you want them: in braille or audio formats, mailed to your door for free, or instantly downloadable.
TBBL Offers a Variety of Formats
- Talking books and magazines – Audiobooks and audio magazines on digital cartridges are mailed to your door. You return them the same way, through postage-free mail. Digital talking-book players are also provided free to patrons.
- Braille – Braille books and magazines are delivered directly to your door at no cost.
- Music — TBBL provides music appreciation materials, music scores, and music instruction in braille, audio, and large print.
- Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD) – BARD is a Web-based service that provides access to thousands of special-format books, magazines, and music materials. The same materials that are offered on digital cartridges are also available for download in compressed audio or braille formats.
- BARD Mobile – With the BARD Mobile app, you can download and play audio materials on an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. Many of the materials available on digital cartridges or in hard-copy braille are also available for download in compressed audio or braille formats.
TBBL Uses the Latest Technology
TBBL has a long history of using the latest technology to provide accessible reading materials to patrons. Audiobooks and audio magazines are available on digital cartridges or via online download through BARD. And now, the free BARD Mobile app is available for your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch so you don’t need special equipment to read.
The Application Process
Applications for service must include certification by an appropriate authority, such as social workers, rehabilitation therapists, and professionals in various fields related to health care. At their discretion, librarians familiar with an applicant and who can determine that the applicant is eligible for service according to the requirements listed, may do the certifying—except for learning disabilities, which require certification from a medical doctor or doctor of osteopathy. All certification must include the certifier’s name, affiliation, address, telephone number, and original signature. Family members may not certify applicants.
You are eligible for this library service if you are a resident of upstate New York, of any age, and you have a physical disability that prevents you from reading print materials:
- You can’t see well enough to read conventional print. Specifically, you must:
- Be legally blind, with vision in the better eye of 20/200 or less with correcting lenses, or:
- Have a visual field no greater than 20 degrees in diameter, or:
- Be unable to see well enough to focus long enough to read standard print, even with corrective lenses.
- You have a permanent or temporary physical limitation which prevents you from holding a book or turning its pages. Physical disabilities which may prevent the ability to read include:
- multiple sclerosis,
- cerebral palsy,
- severe arthritis,
- a missing arm or hand,
- lack of muscle coordination, and
- prolonged weakness.
- You have a physically-based reading disability. You must be certified by a medical doctor as having a reading or learning disability due to an organic dysfunction severe enough to prevent reading in the usual manner.
Eligibility of Persons with Reading Disabilities
The current federal regulation for this national free library service is set forth in the Federal Register for June 7, 1974, as amended October 2, 1981 (Title 36, Section 701.10). Individuals with reading disabilities are not expressly covered by this statute. Under Public Law 89-522, only persons whose reading disabilities are physically based are eligible for the NLS talking-book program. Furthermore, readers must be “certified by competent authority [described below] as unable to read normal printed material as a result of physical limitations, under regulations prescribed by the Librarian of Congress for this service.” An individual whose reading disability does not have a physical origin is not eligible.
Applications for service from individuals claiming a reading disability based on a physical disability must establish the following facts:
- the reading disability is of sufficient severity to prevent reading regular printed material in a normal manner
- the cause of the disability is physically based; that is, it is an organic dysfunction
- the person certifying the application is medically able to judge whether the disability has a physical or organic basis
The following groups of individuals are not automatically eligible: those who have learning disabilities, dyslexia, attention deficit disorder, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, chronic-fatigue syndrome, autism, functional illiteracy, or developmental disabilities, unless accompanied by a specific visual or physical disability.
What your library does for you:
The Valley Falls Library provides digital players on indefinite loan, free of charge, as long as patrons borrow talking books or magazines at least once a year, after your application has been approved. The players may be picked up at the library or sent through the mail from TBBL. Our librarians have a working knowledge of the players, and can assist you in becoming familiar with them. Books will come directly from TBBL once your application has been approved. TBBL has no subscriptions or service fees; it is free for eligible borrowers. Come to the library today to apply to get access to all your favorite titles in a format that works for you, or apply on the web at TBBL.