Northeast Georgia Talking Book Center

Talking Books are a free public library service for the visually, physically, and reading disabled. The Northeast Georgia Talking Book Center is part of the Athens-Clarke County Library and the Georgia Library for Accessible Services. For more information about our service, please visit our website.

The purpose of this blog is to provide information and useful links to our patrons. The Talking Book Center does not endorse any product mentioned on this blog.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Support the VISTAS Center

Visit the Athens Beef O'Brady's Sunday night from 5-9pm, when they will donate part of the proceeds to the VISTAS Center.  VISTAS is a local non-profit that promotes self-sufficiency for the visually impaired.  You can learn more about them at

Read about the fundraiser in the Athens Banner-Herald:

Friday, July 25, 2014

Currency Readers

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing, which includes the U.S. Department of Treasury, will begin offering free currency readers to visually impaired individuals this fall.  The National Library Service, which is part of the Library of Congress, is paring with the Bureau to distribute these readers.

Beginning in September, NLS will help BEP with a pilot program.  Registered Talking Book patrons who are interested in getting a currency reader can contact their local Talking Book Library and request one.  The program will then expand nationally in January.

To read more about this program, please visit  If you are a registered Talking Book patron who is interested in getting a currency reader, please contact your Talking Book Library. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Future of Braille

A press release from the National Library Service (NLS):

“The Future of Braille” Report Presents Recommendations for Improving Literacy Opportunities

For immediate release
July 4, 2014
Contact: Gayle Osterberg
(202) 707-0020

Deputy Librarian of Congress Robert J. Dizard Jr. today released a report exploring issues related to braille, the literacy tool that makes independence possible for people who cannot see to read regular print, at the National Federation of the Blind national convention in Orlando, Florida.
"The Future of Braille: NLS Braille Summit Presentations and Outcomes" details the proceedings of a conference held by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) in partnership with the Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, Massachusetts, June 19–22, 2013. It was attended by more than 100 librarians, instructors, producers, and other experts in the field of braille.
NLS director Karen Keninger said, "This was the first gathering of its type since the early 20th century. People were eager to share their experiences and to contribute their ideas to help shape the course of this important literacy tool."
"The Library of Congress has been providing braille books since it was authorized by law to provide free library service for people who are blind or have low vision," Dizard explained. "This program, the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, has recently expanded to include electronic braille, which is downloaded over the Internet from the Braille and Audio Reading Download site (known as BARD) and read using braille embossers or note-takers with a Bluetooth connection.
"The Braille Summit is a product of our effort to keep this medium at the forefront of library service," Dizard said.
Speakers included Peter Osborne, chief braille officer of the United Kingdom’s Royal National Institute of Blind People, Michael Yudin, acting assistant secretary for the U.S. Department of Education Special Education and Rehabilitative Services in Washington, D.C., and other notables in the field. Panels discussed improvements in the braille code, methods of producing braille, lowering costs, leveraging technology, and addressing misperceptions about the literacy tool.
Participants recognized that collaboration is the way forward for strengthening braille literacy. As NLS has been a leader in ensuring access to reading materials, the gathering recommended that NLS support efforts to update braille technology and specifications. They also recommended that the service provide a low-cost braille display in the same way that it provides audio-playback equipment.
Other stakeholders were encouraged to address the shortage of teachers and cost prohibitions, promote braille as a communications tool, make better use of technology to reduce the cost of braille production and to produce a low-cost braille display unit.
The report is available online at

NLS administers the braille and talking-book program, a free library service available to U.S. residents and American citizens living abroad whose low vision, blindness, or disability makes reading regular materials difficult. Through its national network of libraries, NLS mails books and magazines in audio and braille formats and digital audio equipment directly to enrollees at no cost. Music instructional materials are also provided. Selected materials may be downloaded. For more information, visit or call 1-888-NLS-READ (1-888-657-7323).
The Library of Congress, the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world, holds more than 158 million items in various languages, disciplines and formats. The Library serves the U.S. Congress and the nation both on-site in its reading rooms on Capitol Hill and through its award-winning website at

Monday, July 21, 2014

MIT Finger Device Reads in Real Time

MIT is developing a special "ring" that uses a tiny camera and synthesized voice to read text aloud.  This device could help many visually impaired people read text in real time, while offering maximum portability. While the FingerReader would not replace Braille, it could help read documents such as forms and menus.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Blind Photographers Group

Flickr has a Blind Photographers group, featuring the photographs of blind or visually-impaired photographers.  Check out the stunning artwork at!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

How the Blind Enjoy Movies published an article and video on "How The Blind Enjoy Movies".  The video talks about audio-described movies, where additional narration tracks are placed between dialogue which describes the action, scenery, costumes, and other components of the movies.

Remember the Talking Book Center has audio-described movies available for checkout!  Additionally, many DVDs come with audio narration built-in - just check under "Audio Selection" on the main menu.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Libraries Shifting Focus

Once upon a time, libraries were nothing more than hushed corridors of books.  These days, libraries are often bustling community centers full of books, movies, music, programs, crafts, computers, classes, and learning.  Some libraries are reaching out to teens in particular to welcome them.  Read about some of these libraries at

Friday, July 11, 2014

World Book Night Ceases Operations

World Book Night, an organization which utilized volunteers to hand out books donated by publishers, has ceased operations after three years.  The mission of World Book Night was to use people who love reading to reach those who were not regular readers - create a connection over a book which could spark a love of reading.  Unfortunately, the cost of operations was too high to continue.

Below is an email from World Book Night organizers:

Dear World Book Night U.S. friend,
After three years in which thousands and thousands of you distributed over a million and half specially-printed World Book Night paperbacks across America, we are sad to announce that we are suspending operations. The expenses of running World Book Night U.S., even given the significant financial and time commitment from publishers, writers, booksellers, librarians, printers, distributors, shippers--and you, our amazing givers!--are too high to sustain.
This has been a remarkable, passionate undertaking, and it has been a success by all measures, except for one: Outside funding. For three years, the publishing industry and book community have very generously footed the bill and contributed enormous time and effort, and we are so very grateful for all the support.
We did receive some funds via individual donations, and we worked very hard to get grants. We did get some, but there are a lot of other worthy causes out there and only so much money available. We can't carry on without significant, sustainable outside funding.
From World Book Night U.S. Board Chairman Michael Pietsch: "World Book Night's first three years have been a profound experience for everyone involved. The altruistic spirit of the givers and of industry supporters have reminded us all of the transformative impact books have on people's lives, and of the power of a book as a gift. The World Book Night Board joins me in extending their deep gratitude to all who have taken part."
WBN U.S. Exec Director Carl Lennertz added: "Some of you know our names here, but I want to be sure you know these--Laura Peraza and Carolyn Schwartz. They have been here since day one, and they, along with you, are my heroes. Alia Almeida joined us this year and was a creative force. A list of all the booksellers, librarians, authors, and folks in publishing and at Ingram would be too long to include here, but they know who they are and I know they have loved being a part of this beautiful thing we did together."
We are staying on hand through the summer without pay to maintain social media contact with you all, to talk good books, and to announce the winner of the giver essay contest.
YOU, the givers, made it possible for WBN to reach its full potential. For us here at World Book Night, this experience has been life-changing, as we hope it has been for you and recipients of the books. Our gratitude to you is simply immeasurable.
With much love, appreciation, and admiration, thank you!
Team WBN U.S

You can also


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Android Accessibility

The iPhone is most often discussed when looking for accessibility features on smart phones, but Android phones have some great built-in features too!  Zoom, Large Text, and Google Play Books that read aloud are just some of these tools.  Lifehacker has a great article about finding and turning these and more on:

Monday, July 7, 2014

Three Georgia Talking Book Centers Have Closed

Effective July 1, the Talking Book Centers in Savannah, Dublin, and Columbus have closed.  Patrons of these libraries will now be served by AMLAS (Atlanta Metro Library for Accessible Services), located in Atlanta, and should see no service disruption.  Patrons can reach AMLAS at 1-800-248-6701 or online at

Friday, July 4, 2014

TBC Closed Today

The Athens-Clarke Co. Library and Talking Book Center are closed today, July 4.  The Talking Book Center will resume regular hours on Monday, July 7.  Happy Independence Day!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

TBC Closed July 4

The Athens-Clarke Co. Library and Talking Book Center will be closed Friday, July 4 in observation of Independence Day.  Order books today for the long weekend!

Monday, June 30, 2014

NLS Music Notes Blog

Did you know the National Library Service (NLS) has a music section?  To promote awareness of this department and its services, NLS will now publish a Music Notes Blog.  Here is part of the first post:
For those who may be unfamiliar with “NLS,” it is the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, part of the Library Services’ Partnership and Outreach Programs within the Library of Congress. It is a free national library program of braille and recorded books and magazines.
The Music Section oversees, circulates and administers the music collection. It has the largest collection of music braille in the world and is very much an international collection, just as music is an international phenomenon. The large-print component of the collection, though smaller than the braille, is also substantial and we know of no comparable collection anywhere. The audio component contains thousands of titles, most of which are designed for the blind and require no written materials, from how-to instructional materials to music appreciation titles.
We hope to spread knowledge of this collection, especially to those who need and want it. The blog will highlight these collections and all future acquisitions.
We will also feature, in various ways, some of our patrons: musicians, aspiring musicians, music students, and all those who embrace music in its diverse aspects. As one example, we include here a portion of the performance by the blind classical pianist, Enrico Lisi, who NLS sponsored in 2005 to perform at the Coolidge Auditorium in the Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress.

You can follow the blog at

Friday, June 27, 2014

Skillcraft Pens

The June 2014 edition of Reader's Digest features Skillcraft pens, which are manufactured by the blind.  President Franklin D. Roosevelt enacted the Wagner-O'Day Act, which mandated the government must buy a certain amount of goods produced by blind individuals.  Skillcraft pens are now supplied to many government offices.

Read the RD article here:

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Smart Glasses for Failing Eyesight

Oxford University researchers have been working on "smart glasses", which use 3D cameras and lenses to project images to those with failing eyesight.  The glasses can be used to avoid large objects and prevent falls.

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