Digital book question

Question: I have a friend who showed me her talking book player. She says it was free and the books are, as well. Is this available for anyone?  If so, how do I sign up?

Answer:  Your friend's player came from the National Library Service for the Blind and Handicapped (NLS) Talking Book Program. NLS is part of the Library of Congress. The Talking Book program has been around since the early days of recorded sound, transitioning from records to cassette tapes and now, digital cartridges or digital downloads. 

The player is, indeed provided free of charge and the books are also sent free of charge. Books that are mailed come in special containers marked "Free Matter for the Blind." This can be misleading, though. The Talking Book Program is available to individuals who can't read print books for any number of reasons beside vision loss. If someone's learning disabled, if they have a condition that makes it difficult to hold a book or turn the pages, if they suffer an eye condition that makes it difficult to read print for an extended period of time, they could utilize the Talking Book Program.  In our area the Talking Book Program is administered by the Carnegie Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.  According to the LBPH web site (, "We will need the signature of a doctor, nurse, teacher, caseworker, or other competent authority to verify your eligibility before we process your application."  The application forms are available at the above web site, or by calling 1-800-242-0586.  If you don't have a qualifying disability and want to start reading your books digitally, contact the Somerset County Library (814-445-5907) and sign up for a free library card. In addition to their collection of print books, large print books and books on tape or cd, they also have a nice collection of books available for free download. 

Our thanks to the reader who asked this question.  Here's where to send your comments or inquiries:

At Your Service, Rob Stemple, Daily American newsroom, P.O. Box 638 Somerset, PA 15501 or email

(Rob Stemple is Community Outreach and Rehabilitation Liaison for Somerset County Blind Center (SCBC); a Division of the Susquehanna Association for the Blind and Vision Impaired (SABVI).  He is available to speak to school and civic groups, churches, etc. Rob's group, Apostles Creed also provides music for church services and events. Call him at 814-445-1310 or send an email to for additional information.)





Look for this special section in your
Baltimore Sun newspaper on Dec. 29, 2013.
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