People Who Are Blind

Whether you’ve been blind since early in life or lost your vision as an adult, NLS is here for you. NLS provides its free library services to any eligible US resident, as well as American citizens living abroad. With hundreds of thousands of titles in audio and braille—half of them available for immediate download wherever you are, whenever you want—our collection rivals any library’s, with books for readers of all ages and interests: Bestsellers. Biographies. Mysteries. Romances. Westerns. Science fiction. And more. Plus, dozens of popular and special-interest magazines.

NLS also has materials you won’t find anywhere else in audio or braille.

Cookbooks, for instance. How-to guides for gardening, knitting, and other hobbies. Poetry anthologies. First aid manuals. Print/braille books that a sighted adult can read with a blind child, or vice versa. Music scores and instructional materials for a variety of instruments. Sports schedules in braille. Even rule books for Dungeons & Dragons! And, of course, books by, for, and about people living with disabilities.

NLS equipment and services are designed to meet the needs of our patrons. Our talking-book playback machines have large buttons and braille lettering for ease of use. NLS talking books can be navigated by chapter, section, or page and played at varying speeds with no loss of clarity. Our easy-to-handle talking-book cartridges can hold multiple books to keep you reading through winter storms and summer beach trips. And BARD—the NLS Braille and Audio Reading Download website—and the BARD Mobile app are meant to work seamlessly with screen readers.

Once enrolled, you can access NLS books and magazines in whatever way you find most convenient. If you have a smartphone or tablet, you can start reading audio and electronic braille materials right away with the BARD Mobile app. Or you can receive audio and hard-copy braille books and magazines through the mail, postage-free, from the NLS library that serves your state or community. They’ll send you a talking-book playback machine, too. In addition to the circulating hard-copy braille books that you borrow and return, you can now request hard-copy braille books for long-term loan.

Have questions? Ready to apply? Call 888-NLS-READ (888-657-7323) and follow the prompts to be connected to your local NLS network library. Or complete a short online form to request more information.

I have been with this program for five years after a stroke that stole my vision. It's a beautiful service.

— NLS patron

NLS also produces Informational Publications on a variety of topics related to blindness and disabilities. Below you’ll find links to some of them, including information about purchasing refreshable braille displays and how to contact organizations that provide services to people who are blind or visually impaired.

Blindness and Visual Impairment lists information about assistance organizations that provide direct services to people who are blind or visually impaired, including advocacy and advisory services, information and referral services, and counseling and employment programs.

GPS and Wayfinding Apps offers an overview of the technological solutions for people with disabilities when in transit from one location to another, including mobile applications (apps) for mobile devices that can aid people with visual impairments in finding destinations.

Currency Reader is a program partnering NLS with the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) to provide a compact device that announces a cash note’s value, distributed free of charge to eligible individuals who are blind or visually impaired.

Braille Embossers provides an alphabetical listing of braille embossers, which are similar to ink printers but emboss braille characters onto paper for tactile reading, listing machines for personal use at home, the office, or mass production.

About Braille shares general information about the history of braille, the life of Louis Braille, the braille alphabet, technological advances in braille, and braille educators and producers.

National Research and Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision External provides resources, training, and technical assistance, as well as conducts and shares research focused on improving employment for those who are blind or have low vision.

Explore other NLS Informational Publications on issues related to blindness, visual impairment, or physical disabilities, as well as compilations of current resources on many topics of interest to NLS readers and those who provide services to them.

Hands reading braille book on patio table
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