Talking Books Aid Visually Impaired, Physically Disabled

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 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.

Books for the Blind Take a Swim With WHOI Oceanographer

Once or twice a year, oceanographer Amy Bower of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution puts on her sea legs and leads a research expedition to track ocean currents around the globe. In addition to a glittering array of highly technical moors, buoys, sensors, trackers and the like, Bower packs a digital audio player filled with books downloaded from the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), the Library of Congress.

“When I go on my research cruises, I’ll take five to ten books and magazines,” says Bower, who lost her sight in 1993 because of macular degeneration. Even if she is in water too deep to anchor or nowhere near a harbor, her books are always within reach.

Christina Ha: The Blind Cook Who Turned Master Chef

If you watched season three of Fox TV’s reality cooking show “MasterChef,” you remember the big smile that lit up Christine Ha’s face every time she impressed the judges with her bold flavors—and especially when her three-course meal of Vietnamese comfort food won Ha the “MasterChef” title.

What casual viewers may not have realized right away is that the amateur cook from Houston, Texas, is blind. In 2003, Ha was diagnosed with neuromyelitis optica (NMO), a rare neurological condition that deteriorates the optic nerves and spinal cord. By 2007, Ha had lost most of her vision. But she had regained her love of reading, with help from the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS).

Braille and Audio Materials Help Blind Fan Follow Her Teams

Miriam Stone of Forest Hills, N.Y., has an unfailing love of sports that covers practically every team from the Big Apple—the Islanders, Liberty, Jets, Mets and Nets.

The 60-year-old stays connected to her teams with the audiobooks  and braille materials provided by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), part of the Library of Congress.

Stone was born blind and began reading braille books from the NLS collection as a young child. Shortly after, she discovered her love of sports and became a diehard, never-misses-a-game kind of fan.