April 5, 2015
(NewsUSA) - The joys of reading -- from relaxation and entertainment to the ability to learn new things and connect with the world -- are not out of reach for people with impaired vision or a physical disability.
The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), part of the Library of Congress, is dedicated to enriching the lives of its patrons by offering them books, magazines, music scores and other materials in audio and braille at no charge.
NLS provides service to any U.S. resident or U.S. citizen living abroad who is blind, has low vision or has a physical disability that makes it difficult to hold a book or read regular print. Thousands of bestsellers, classics, biographies and more may be downloaded from the Internet or ordered for home delivery through a nationwide network of cooperating libraries.
NLS, established in 1931, expanded its service to include physically disabled readers in 1966. People with cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, or other conditions that result in paralysis, loss of the use of arms or hands, lack of muscle coordination, prolonged weakness or visual impairment may access the NLS collection. So can people with temporary limitations resulting from strokes, accidents or other occurrences.
San Francisco resident Ivana Kirola, 38, has cerebral palsy and doesn't have the strength to hold a book. Audiobooks from NLS allow her to indulge her myriad interests in politics, travel, health, music and more. Kirola enjoys a variety of titles, from historical nonfiction and real-life adventures to books about the inner workings of Congress and the life of Jimi Hendrix. A recent favorite is Jennifer Woodlief's account of a deadly Lake Tahoe avalanche, "A Wall of White."
"I really appreciate the services from NLS," Kirola says. "They help me in my daily life, in understanding people and keeping up to date with the news. My favorite part of NLS is the widened horizons that reading audiobooks gives to me."
Kirola also attends a yoga class at the San Francisco Library -- one of NLS's regional partners -- to help maintain flexibility. "The thing that has helped me is to remain persistent in what I would like to experience," Kirola says. "Sometimes what you need is elusive, but it's important not to give up. There are solutions for everything but sometimes it takes persistence to find out what they are."
If you or a loved one is blind, has low vision or has a physical disability, learn more about the free reading program by calling 1-888-NLS-READ or visiting www.loc.gov/nls.
The BARD Mobile App for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch will allow blind users to download and read NLS Braille and talking books directly from the Braille and Audio Reading Download site (BARD). Karen Keninger provides an overview of the app.