When I was a child I discovered large print books. I’ve always had issues with my eyes, so I loved them. At some point, and readers of my vintage may remember this one, I discovered a book about a 14-year old girl who becomes blind, “Light a Single Candle,” by Beverly Butler (there was a sequel where she goes to college to become a speech pathologist, “Gift of Gold”) which I read multiple times, alas not in large print. I feel my high school librarian lost an opportunity there. I also read books by and about Helen Keller, and wondered if my eye issues might lead to eventual blindness. So far, they haven’t.

As a Kindle user, I love the ability to fiddle with fonts and font sizes to make reading easier. I also value the Libby service that our local public libraries provide that allows me to read e-books through the app or download them to my Kindle, and listen to audiobooks through the app or via an external speaker. Pretty much all of us library “slicers” love public library e-books, though I have to note academic library e-books can be a bit more clunky. I also appreciate the ability to check out a book on tape or DVD. However, I recognize that local readers with vision issues may be looking for additional options. Enter the National Library Service for the Blind and Print-Disabled (loc.gov/nls) and its regional network libraries that include the Washington Talking Book and Braille Library (wtbbl.org), and the Idaho Talking Book Service (libraries.idaho.gov/tbs).

Qualifying readers (and, if necessary, their caregivers) can create an account at their regional network library and benefit from free services and resources. Back in the day they would order large print books, Braille books, and books on tape to be mailed, but modern technology now provides additional cartridge-based and some downloadable format options, including digital audiobooks and digital Braille books and magazines (eBraille) that can be finger-read by special devices or digital talking book players. You can find out more about Braille and Audio Reading Download, or BARD, at nlsbard.loc.gov. Iit’s also another option for locating and downloading books and magazines and musical scores. Some of these books are created by volunteer narrators and Braille-typists. Users can also access these locally-produced items from other network libraries,