Free Braille and Talking Book Program for Veterans

The gift of reading returned to Veterans with visual impairments


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The Braille and Talking Book Program offers Veterans who have difficulty with regular print materials the return of the gift of reading.

The Joy and Freedom of Reading

Whether escaping into a great novel or staying current with popular magazines, the freedom and independence of reading are only a few steps away. This program, from the National Library Service (NLS) and the Library of Congress, provides talking books, audio magazines, and digital talking-book players free of charge.

Any honorably discharged Veteran who is blind, has low vision, or a disability preventing the reading of traditional materials is eligible. Participants choose whether their selected reading materials are delivered by mail, downloaded from the web-based service BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download) or through the BARD mobile app for smartphones and tablets. NLS maintains a vast catalog of titles and publications from the latest best-sellers to timeless classics. Plus, Veterans have preferential status in the lending of materials and equipment.

The Braille and Talking Books Program is accomplished through a nationwide network of libraries to serve citizens and Veterans living inside the U.S. or abroad.  Applying for this service is easy. Call the National Library Service at 1-888-NLS-READ (1-888-657-7323) or visit them on the web at www.loc.gov/ThatAllMayRead

Veterans served to protect freedom. Now let National Library Service provide the freedom for all to read.

Update: The Library of Congress published a Resources for Disabled Veterans guide.

Author

Steven Clipp

Steve Clipp joined VA in 2017 with the White House/VA Hotline and is currently on detail as a communications specialist with the Veteran Experience Office. Steve, a Navy Veteran, served as an electronics technician in Fighter Squadron 31 (VF 31-F/14s) on-board the USS Abraham Lincoln. Using the GI Bill, he graduated from Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, West Virginia in 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications.

Comments

  1. KEITH LEON PECK    

    I am classed @ 10 percent, due to being on the flight line and decks of several Aircraft carriers. I have had both eyes worked on, but still need glasses to read, and even they are not much help. I don’t get around much with missing part of both feet, it would be great to listen to auto books, even with ringing and buzzing in my ears.

  2. William Wayne Williams    

    My vision is very poor and I could really use the talking books. I also was injuried in the back , I have rod and screws in my back and About50 feet is as far as I can walk.. I have had 2 open heart surgeries and I’m on a lot of meds that make me drousey.

    1. Kristen Fernekes    

      Hi William,

      Please do look into NLS services. Call 1-888-657-7323 to speak with your local talking book library. They’ll be happy to assist with any eligibility questions.

  3. James Dalton    

    An iPad is a really good tool for visually impaired people. The font for books is really large. Pictures can be zoomed in and out.

  4. Larry Butterworth    

    Have cataracts in both eyes effecting my nearsighted vision. Not bad enough for a operation. Have to remove my glasses to read, use to read a lot. Hard to read have trouble with my eyes as they start to water have to stop reading. When I was a truck driver I used to get audio books and listen to to them. I love to work with wood I find it’s very hard to read a measuring tape. I find that I miss read my tape, I’ve lost count of how many times I cut the wood to short. Can I get audio books. I have a a 30% disability rating.
    Thank you Larry Butterworth.

    1. Kristen Fernekes    

      Hi Larry,

      We would suggest that you call 1-888-657-7323 to connect with your local talking book library. They will be happy to talk to you about eligibility and the specifics of your situation. They can also make some suggestions for assistive technology that could be useful.

  5. Doris    

    Wonderful! I am 99, just starting to not be able to read the paper every day like I have for so many years. Computer is harder and harder to read.

    1. Kristen Fernekes    

      Hi Doris,

      Please do look into NLS services. Call 1-888-657-7323 to speak with your local talking book library. They’ll be happy to assist.

  6. John R Yamshak    

    I think the audio books could be a great blessing to all veterans, especially the elderly, lonely ones. I can’t understand why it is limited to visually impaired. Would be a great asset to our seniors, especially those in veteran nursing homes.
    A proud veteran

    1. Kristen Fernekes    

      Hi John,

      NLS serves people with a wide range of disabilities. If you or someone you know would benefit from our service, please call 1-888-657-7323 to speak with the NLS library in your area.

  7. Kathleen Barnes    

    Can the widow of a deceased veteran obtain the free audio books?

    1. Kristen Fernekes    

      Hi Kathleen —

      Any US resident who is eligible because of a visual, physical or other print disability can enroll. Please call 1-888-657-7323 to connect with your local talking book library. They can help you right away.

  8. Kristen Fernekes    

    Hi Steven, Thank you so much for drawing attention to our program! NLS services are available, free of charge, to people with visual impairments and other print disabilities that make it difficult to use standard print materials. We encourage people to call 1-888-657-7323 to reach our affiliated library in their state. Our libraries will be more than happy to help will eligibility questions and enrollment and will be able to share more about the services available through NLS. NLS is proud to have the opportunity to serve veterans and we look forward to hearing from you all.

  9. cindy ropp-richter    

    Wow I can’t wait to get my application approved. I am 100% for items including totally fused neck and 5 shoulder surgeries. Holding up and looking at a book for more than 20 minutes is not possible for me.

    1. Kristen Fernekes    

      Hi Cindy,

      Your local talking book library will be happy to help. Please call 1-888-657-7323 to find the library nearest to you. Hope this helps!

  10. Leonard Della Rocco    

    I’ve had multiple ministrokes that doesn’t allow me to read. How does this program work?

    1. Kristen Fernekes    

      Hi Leonard,

      Please call 1-888-657-7323 to connect with your local talking book library. They will help you through the enrollment process. Once you’re enrolled, your library will send you equipment and digital books through the mail or you can download books to a personal device. Either way it’s free of charge — even the postage. Your library will also have reader advisors to help you find materials of interest to you.

  11. Shelldon Silva    

    I require reading glasses to read small print, especially in low light. Will this qualify me for BARD program?
    Shelldon Silva

    1. Kristen Fernekes    

      Hi Shelldon,

      Please call 1-888-657-7323 to connect with your local talking book library. They will be happy to talk to you about eligibility and the specifics of your situation.

  12. Daniel B Lawson    

    Daniel B Lawson

    Hundred percent disabled I am very interested in the talking books please send me more information so I can get signed on thank you .

    1. Kristen Fernekes    

      Hi Daniel,

      We’d recommend calling 1-888-657-7323 to connect with your local talking book library. The will you also give you all of the specifics on how to get enrolled. Thanks for your interest!

  13. Ernest MacArthur    

    I would like to apply for the program of free audio books. I have TBI and get massive headaches and have hard time remembering what I read. Audio has been good for me.

    Thank you

    1. Kristen Fernekes    

      Hi Ernest,

      Please call 1-888-657-7323 to connect with your local talking book library. They will be happy to talk to you about eligibility and the specifics of your situation. The will you also give you all of the specifics on how to get enrolled. Best of luck to you!

  14. Kenneth Bennett    

    Steven Clipp, as I read your (VA’s) news, I am and most likely all veterans should be AFRAID of the new Mission Program; it seems to me like the latest scheme by the VA – Another Pandora’s Box!!!! As I look closely at the letter and pamphlet I received, it seems to tell me, if you use the outside services, all veterans will most likely be penalized because they may not understand, they will most likely have to pay deductibles, co-pays, and maybe the entire bill for using this latest and greatest Mission Program. How dare the VA spring this on the proud veterans who served there country only to use it and get huge bills afterwards for using the new program, some of which is at the discretion of the VA powers to be!!!

  15. James. Adermatt    

    Yes I PTSD and it’s very hard to consecrate when I try to read a book I get distracted as I read and cant follow the story and cant keep track with what I have read I am not sure if I would be reliable for this service but it would let me keep up with what I have read and let me review what I have read previsley please let me know if this is something that would be eligabla to receive thank you in advance thank you for your time. James adermatt

    1. Kristen Fernekes    

      Hi James,

      We’d suggest that you call 1-888-657-7323 to connect with your local talking book library. They will be happy to talk to you about eligibility and the specifics of your situation.

  16. Dennis Tencza    

    There is also Librivox which is great for audio books and is free.

    1. Lori Manning    

      Your post contains inaccurate info. Educate yourself.
      Chicken little… the sky is not falling.
      IF you pay any co-pays it is because of your VA rating status.
      This program is for low vision people. ( grammar in your post – their not there)

      USN Ret – 100% DV 13

  17. Rockey Dale Smith    

    Dear Sirs,

    I am a Vietnam veteran, who wishes to use the talking books but do not see a way to get in.
    I would appreciate your instructions.

    Thank You,

    Rockey Smith HM Second Class Petty Officer

    1. Steven Clipp    

      Thank you for your service Doc – Please call the National Library Service at 1-888-NLS-READ (1-888-657-7323) or visit them on the web at http://www.loc.gov/ThatAllMayRead.

  18. Jerry Woods    

    I am interested in the talking books for Veterans. Such as myself.
    Thank you very much!
    Jerry Woods

    1. Kristen Fernekes    

      Hi Daniel,

      Please call 1-888-657-7323 to reach your local talking book library. They will be happy to help you right away.

  19. Viviane Mulunda wa Mulunda    

    I would like to make an appointment

    1. Kristen Fernekes    

      Hi Viviane,

      Please call 1-888-657-7323 to connect with your local talking book library. They will be happy to talk to you about eligibility and services.

  20. Kelvin V Neilson    

    First introduced to this site/service today. GREAT resource!!! Will be returning to stay somewhat current on what is going on in the world of Veterans.
    Thank you for your efforts on project and for service to our country. I’m a old Viet Nam era Army vet.
    Happy trails, kel

  21. Andrea E. Gutierrez    

    I am a 100% Service Connected Disabled Vet. I’d like to participate in the audio book program. I can see, with glasses, but my hands are badly crippled with arthritis. It.is very hard for me to hold a book, or turn pages. I have 1 finger I sort of type with on a Kindle. Would I qualify? I used to read many books. It helps my PTSD. Please advise.

    1. Kristen Fernekes    

      Hi Andrea,

      We’d suggest that you call 1-888-657-7323 to connect with your local talking book library. They will be happy to talk to you about eligibility and the specifics of your situation. Hope this helps!

  22. Kathleen M Thomas    

    I would love to listen to audio books but don’t have any equipment. I a Navy vet ,73 yrs ,PTSD in San Jose California

    1. Kristen Fernekes    

      Hi Kathleen,

      NLS will send you playback equipment free of charge. Call 1-888-657-7323 to connect with your local talking book library in California. They will be happy to talk to you about all of our services.

  23. Barbara    

    Absolutely a great and fulfilling endeavor.

  24. Gene Whitlock    

    How do I sign up for audio books and magazines?
    I have AMD resulting in low vision.

    1. Kristen Fernekes    

      Hi Gene,

      We’d suggest that you call 1-888-657-7323 to connect with your local talking book library. They will be happy to help you get enrolled.

  25. Daniel Nevels    

    Can veterans with 60% PTSD get Audio books due to lack of ability to concentrate on reading for extended periods of time?

    1. Kristen Fernekes    

      Hi Daniel,

      We’d suggest that you call 1-888-657-7323 to connect with your local talking book library. They will be happy to talk to you about eligibility and the specifics of your situation.

  26. John C. Johnson    

    What are “talking books?

    1. Kristen Fernekes    

      Hi John,

      “Talking Books” is the term that NLS has used since the 30s to describe our audio books — regardless of whether they were on LPs, cassettes or other formats. If you or someone you know might qualify for NLS service, please call 1-888-657-7323 to connect with your local talking book library.

  27. David Julio Marcozzi    

    How do I use audio books on my iPad?

    1. Kristen Fernekes    

      Hi David,

      Please call 1-888-657-7323 to connect with your local talking book library. They can set you us with BARD mobile, NLS’s application that will allow you to download audio books to your personal device.

Comments are closed.