Blind Accessible Audio Book Programs
Several companies (online), non-profit organizations and federal/state funded programs exist that provide access to books, newspapers and magazines for the visually impaired and physically handicapped. The organizations and programs discussed in this article include the following: National Library Service (NLS), Audible (.com), Learning Ally and Bookshare.
The National Library service is a program developed and funded by the Library of Congress that provides reading material free of charge to all individuals who have a visual disability or a physical handicap. The books are recorded on cassette tape or in a digital format. Each person interested in taking advantage of the library service must complete an application and provide proof of the disability, which qualifies the person for the services. Each US state/territory has an NLS talking Book Library. The local library, vision organization, rehabilitation service or disability support program can provide more information about the talking book program. The National Library Service website is www.loc.gov/nls.
Bookshare (www.bookshare.org) offers accessible books for individuals with print disabilities. Purchasing a membership allows an individual to read books online or download the book to a computer, e-reader or other reading device. The organization offers a large selection of book titles from all categories, training on how to download a book and technical support. A membership is required to obtain access to the reading material. The cost of a one-year membership is $75 with a one-time fee of $25. After, the first year the annual cost to continue membership is $50. Several membership options are available to help overcome a financial hardship. Bookshare works to make sure everyone can get access to the reading materials available. The Department of education, Office of special education provides funding to schools that use the funds to provide scholarships that pay the cost of a membership for qualified students. The registration process requires an individual to provide proof of a disability and amount of income if needing assistance with membership cost.
Learning Ally a non-profit organization designed to help individuals (children & adults) learn to read or improve his or her reading ability. The company has a selection of reading material that includes books from every category, educational material (textbooks) and instructional material for educators.
Anyone with computer knowledge can download books for the website to his or her computer or other reading device.
A one-year membership is $99 plus a onetime registration fee of $25. The company does offer other membership options for overcoming certain financial situations.
Audible (.com) is an Amazon online bookstore that is accessible to the visually impaired. The company offers a vast selection of reading material covering a variety of book categories. A visually impaired individual with computer knowledge can easily download books to a reading device or computer. The program requires the purchase of a membership for access to the services.
Audible has four membership plans. The first option is one book a month plan for $14.95(a special offer of $7.95 for the first three months). The second plan is two books a month for $22.95. The third plan allows you to order 12 books all at once for $149.50 and finally, the 24 books all at once plan for $229.50.
I use the NLS talking library service but do not participate in the other programs discussed in this article.
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