Saturday, December 23, 2017

Talking Books Helps Give All Access to Reading

Idaho State Librarian,
Idaho Commission for Libraries

An easy-to-use listening device is provided free of charge to patrons
using the Talking Book Service.

Louis Braille, the inventor of the raised-dot system that lets the blind read, had a brilliant vision: to help the visually impaired not just read but be treated as equals.
So do Idaho libraries: to ensure all the approximately 45,000 eligible users are aware of Idaho’s Talking Book Service and help them register for this free program that notably improves the quality of users’ lives.
This Braille and audio book library is available to any Idahoan who is unable to read standard print due to a physical disability. It applies to permanent and temporary disabilities and includes people who are legally blind, visually impaired, or unable to hold a book or turn pages.
Although the Talking Book Service has traditionally been known as a program for the blind, people dealing with diseases and physical disabilities affecting motor function, such as Parkinson’s and paraplegia, enroll in it, too.
The Idaho Commission for Libraries maintains a collection of 82,000 Braille and audio book titles and adds another 2,000 annually. This includes audio books about Idaho and the Pacific Northwest recorded in our in-house studios. Similar to collections you’d find in any public library, Idaho’s Talking Book Service offers nonfiction works on everything from astronomy to zoology and fiction genres ranging from mysteries and romance to westerns, sci-fi, and children’s books.
It also offers more than 300 national magazines, including a half-dozen from Idaho, plus 50 or so newspapers, including The Idaho Statesman, Post Register, and The Spokesman-Review.
Books and magazines are available in many languages besides English, and 15 percent of the collection is in Spanish.
Statewide users can call a toll-free number — (800) 458-3271 — to talk with knowledgeable staff able to help users find the perfect reading materials.
All materials — including a digital player — are mailed directly to your home free of charge with return postage included. Plus, you can download many of the materials from an online database if you have high-speed Internet access.
You must be certified as eligible to use the Talking Book Service, but staff at your local library can easily handle that.
Need more incentive to check out the Talking Book Service? A recent University of Idaho study finds most patrons think highly of the program, with 96 percent rating it “good” or better and 72 percent rating it “excellent.”
Chief among the many quotes from survey respondents that sum up the Talking Book Service well is this gem: “This has been a lifesaver; it keeps me going and in contact with the outside world.”
Many Idaho libraries will celebrate the 209th anniversary of Braille’s birth Jan. 4. As this milestone approaches, please help us realize his important vision by referring those in your life who may benefit from the program to:                or to their local library.
In addition to helping people overcome challenges and normalize their lives, Idaho’s Talking Book Service demonstrates how libraries enrich communities and promote a culture of inclusivity.

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