Braille Book Review

March-April 2011

In Brief

NLS celebrates its 80th anniversary

Patrons, librarians, advocates for blind people, and others joined the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) on March 3, 2011, to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the Pratt-Smoot Act. The legislation, signed by President Herbert Hoover on that date in 1931, led to the creation of what would become NLS. It established a national program, administered by the Library of Congress, to distribute embossed books—a predecessor to braille—through a network of regional libraries. Two years later, the Act was amended to include talking books.

The national celebration featured a news conference at the Library’s main building in Washington, D.C. Many libraries in the NLS network also will hold events this year to raise awareness about the talking-book program.

Today the NLS network includes more than one hundred libraries that distribute digital talking books and braille books to a readership of more than 850,000. Patrons can choose from more than 320,000 titles in the NLS International Union Catalog.

NLS ships final audiocassette title

Two years after it began producing talking books on digital cartridges, the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) has shipped its last book on cassette tape.

The NLS collection currently includes 2.5 million copies of more than 4,000 titles on digital cartridge. All new NLS audiobook titles are now produced on digital cartridges (DBs). These titles also may be downloaded from the Internet through the Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD) service, which currently offers more than 20,000 digital talking-book titles and 1,800 hundred issues of digital audio magazines.

By the end of this year Talking Book Topics will announce only DB titles. If you do not already have a digital talking-book player, please request one from your network library.


The following announcement may be of interest to readers. The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped reserves the right to publish announcements selectively, as space permits. The item mentioned, however, is not part of the NLS program, and its listing does not imply endorsement.

Finding films with descriptive audio

Two websites help people who are blind find theaters equipped with the Descriptive Video Service Theatrical (DVS) system, which provides narrated details of key visual elements in a movie via headsets. The website lists theaters equipped with the technology and current films that have descriptive narration, while allows users to search for accessible theaters by ZIP code and also lists showtimes.

DVD and Blu-ray versions of many popular movies also have an optional DVS track. For a complete list, see

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