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Talking Book and Braille Service

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Outreach Handbook

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Background
  3. Who Qualifies for Talking Book and Braille Service?
  4. Who Can Certify Application Forms?
  5. Reasons to Sign Up and Read
  6. What Services Are Provided?
  7. How to Sign Up
  8. Additional Information
  9. Contact Us


This outreach handbook is intended to provide information about the Nebraska Library Commission Talking Book and Braille Service to Nebraska librarians, educators, rehabilitation counselors, advocates, and care providers. In particular, this handbook discusses what qualifies an individual for free services and what services are available. The handbook presents information in a sequence that accommodates someone making a presentation on behalf of the Talking Book and Braille Service (TBBS). Also, presenters can obtain a variety of handouts, including pamphlets and brochures, Braille alphabet cards, and reference circulars by contacting the TBBS. Users of this handbook are encouraged to contact the TBBS whenever clarification or additional information is desired:

Lincoln calls: (402) 471-4038
Toll-free calls: (800) 742-7691


The Nebraska Library Commission Talking Book and Braille Service began in 1952. It is part of a nationwide network of cooperating libraries headed by the National Library Service (NLS), a division of the Library of Congress. The National Library Service was established in 1931 when the Pratt-Smoot Act became law. Initially the program was intended only for blind adults. The service was opened to blind children in 1952. Eventually, it was recognized that blindness is only one of many disabilities that impair the ability to read regular or standard print materials, and in 1966 the program was expanded to accommodate persons with other physical disabilities.

Who Qualifies for Talking Book and Braille Service?

Any resident of Nebraska who cannot see to read regular print or hold a book or turn its pages qualifies for Talking Book and Braille Services. Those eligible include:

  • Residents who are blind or whose vision is sufficiently impaired to prevent reading standard or regular print;
  • Residents who have difficulty holding or handling print books or turning pages;
  • Residents who are temporarily unable to read or handle books due to accident, surgery, or medication;
  • Residents who have been certified by a medical doctor or doctor of osteopathy as having a reading disability that is physically based (i.e., an organic dysfunction).

Examples of Physically Based Disabilities

  • Diseases of the eye
  • Failing eyesight due to advanced age or diabetes
  • Visual impairment due to use of medications or complications of eye surgery
  • Paralysis
  • Extreme weakness
  • Palsy
  • Tremors
  • Arthritis
  • Loss of arms or hands

Who Can Certify Application Forms?

In cases of blindness, visual impairment, or physical limitations, the cause of an individual's inability to read standard print is often readily observable. Doctors of medicine, doctors of osteopathy, ophthalmologists, optometrists, nurses, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, therapists, and other professionals (e.g., social workers, case workers, counselors, rehabilitation teachers, and school superintendents) are all qualified as certifying authorities.

In cases of reading disability (e.g., dyslexia), doctors of medicine or doctors of osteopathy must sign applications.

An immediate family member, regardless of that person's qualifications, cannot certify an application form. However, immediate family members are invaluable intermediaries for staff and borrowers. This is especially true when borrowers are younger than eighteen or have difficulty communicating.

Reasons to Sign Up and Read

  • Sign up because there are lots of books to read.
  • Sign up because you can choose the books you want to read.
  • Sign up because the player is easy to use.
  • Sign up because the sound from the player is good.
  • Sign up because the books come right to your home.
  • Sign up because the Readers Advisors are helpful.
  • Read to stay informed.
  • Read to learn.
  • Read as a hobby.
  • Read about your other hobbies.
  • Read to visit other times and places.
  • Read to remember good times.
  • Read to revisit good books.
  • Read to participate in book discussion groups.
  • Read to research a topic or write a report.
  • Read because books are there.

What Services Are Provided?

Talking Book and Braille Service provides a free library service. Audio and Braille books span a wide selection of fiction and nonfiction for all ages. Players for enjoying the audio books are also loaned out for free. The materials are delivered to the borrower's home through the mail. The return postage has already been paid.

Specialized collections are also available for checkout:

  • We provide over 100 audio-magazine subscriptions;
  • Download audio books and magazines, and Braille books and magazines, onto your computer and play them on one of our new National Library Service (NLS) digital players at the Braille and Audio Reading Download System (BARD) website, and download the iOS Application and play downloaded books on your iOS device;
  • Our children's Braille collection includes Twin-Vision Braille children's books that have the words in both Braille and regular print, as well as more advanced reading-level Braille-only titles;
  • An extensive collection of adult-level Braille is available through the Utah State Library for the Blind and Disabled;
  • We have a collection of VHS and DVD descriptive videos, which have an additional track to explain the visual elements of the program without interfering in the program's narration, dialogue, or sound effects. (Video player equipment is not furnished);
  • Our collection of Old-Time Radio Shows includes everything from comedies, westerns, and mysteries on cassette and CD. (CD player equipment is not furnished);
  • A collection of musical scores, textbooks, and books about music is available through NLS and is available for download on BARD;
  • Articles from 300 print news publications can be accessed by touch-tone telephone through (National Federation for the Blind) NFB-Newsline.

How to Sign Up

Application forms can be found on our Applications page and also at your local Public library. The form needs a signature from someone outside the individual's family who understands the person's reading limitations. Any social services professional may sign the form. These include case workers, counselors, and resource teachers, nurses and doctors. Only in cases of a reading disability is the signature of a doctor of medicine or a doctor of osteopathy necessary.

The application should be mailed to:

Nebraska Library Commission
Talking Book and Braille Service
The Atrium, 1200 N Street, Ste 120
Lincoln, NE 68508-2023

Additional Information

Flyers, Braille alphabet cards, and application forms are available on request.

Contact Us

Internet Information:

Contact Talking Book and Braille Service:

Lincoln: (402) 471-4038
Toll-free: (800) 742-7691

Mail applications and pre-printed order forms, postage-free, to:

Nebraska Library Commission
Talking Book and Braille Service
The Atrium, 1200 N Street, Ste 120
Lincoln, NE  68508-2023