By Ouita H. Bingham​, Manor Middle School Librarian 

Do you or someone in your family have an impairment that prevents them from using standard print books? You should contact the Talking Book Program to learn about their services!

The Talking Book Program (TBP) provides free library services to qualifying Texans with visual impairments and physical, reading, or learning disabilities that prevent them from using standard print. TBP is part of the National Library Service to the Blind and Print Disabled, a program administered by the Library of Congress and the Texas State Library hosts the program. The program provides unabridged books in alternative formats such as a digital cartridge, Braille, large print, and by downloading from the BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download) service onto iPhones, iPads, iPods, and computers. The collection includes more than 70,000 titles for all ages, including literary classics, fairy tales, poetry, mysteries, sports, science fiction, and biographies. Many Magazines are available as well as some of the Newbery, Caldecott, Bluebonnet, and Lone Star award-winning titles.

Most of the materials are provided by the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled (NLS), a program administered by the Library of Congress. Texas volunteers supplement the collection by recording books about Texas, the Southwest, Spanish language titles, and children’s titles.

School services are also available to students. A teacher or librarian may apply for services for a qualifying student for materials used while at school. Texas Talking books do not have textbooks, but they offer thousands of books that students can use in their schoolwork or recreational reading.

The website offers information about the program. In order to receive free services, an application form must be printed from the website and have it certified by a professional, such as a nurse, optometrist, teacher, librarian, doctor, or social worker. Contact the Talking Book Program by email at tbp.services@tsl.texas.gov or leave a voicemail at 1.800.252.9605 and wait for a response during this period of COVID19.