Parents and Guardians

If you have a child who is unable to read regular print materials because of blindness, visual impairment, deafblindness, a physical disability that prevents them from holding a book, or a reading disability such as dyslexia, NLS can help.

NLS provides its free library services to any eligible US resident, as well as American citizens living abroad. Enrolling is easy, and a wide range of professionals can certify an applicant’s eligibility, including medical doctors, ophthalmologists and optometrists, registered nurses, reading specialists, educators, librarians, school administrators, and school psychologists.

Once enrolled, your child can access books from a collection that rivals any library’s in selection, size, and scope. NLS has books in audio (which we call “talking books”) and in braille for young readers of all ages and interests, from kindergarten through high school and beyond. Adventure stories. Mysteries. Fantasies. Animal tales. Popular titles from school reading lists. Biographies. And more all searchable on the Kids Zone Catalog.

NLS also has print/braille books that allow a sighted parent, teacher, or sibling to read along with a child. The world’s largest collection of music scores and instructional materials for piano, guitar, and a variety of other instruments. And magazines, too.

It’s easy to find books for young readers via the Resources for Children page on the NLS website, which links you to the Kids Zone catalog interface and has links to bibliographies of award-winning titles for children and teens and to popular series like the Chronicles of Narnia. NLS librarians have also compiled bibliographies on popular subjects such as Native American Folklore and Stories and historical figures such as Rosa Parks.

Young readers with a smartphone or tablet can get books and magazines anytime, anywhere, via BARD—the NLS Braille and Audio Reading Download website—and the BARD Mobile app. Or they can receive books and magazines through the mail, postage-free, from the NLS library that serves their state or community. Easy-to-operate talking-book playback machines are available, too. Our talking-book cartridges can hold multiple books to keep your child reading through winter snowstorms and summer beach vacations. And all NLS talking books can be navigated by chapter, section, or page and played at varying speeds with no loss of clarity. Plus, BARD and the BARD Mobile app are meant to work with seamlessly with screen readers.

Have questions? Ready to enroll your child? 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.

This service has really helped [my son] learn to love reading, and I am so appreciative.

— Parent of an NLS patron

NLS also has resources for parents and guardians of children with visual, physical, or reading disabilities. Here are some helpful items to get started:

Resources for Parents of Blind and Low-Vision Children lists resources for parents of children who are blind or low vision, such as support organizations for parents, sports and athletic organizations for blind and low-vision athletes, as well as federal and state government agencies.

Kids Zone allows you to search for titles specifically for preschoolers through young adult that are also listed in the full NLS Catalog and links you to other resources at NLS including minibibliographies for children's books.

Disability Awareness for Children Pre-K through Sixth Grade Ref Guide is a descriptive listing of books, games, and activities that educate children with and without disabilities on disability awareness, people-first language, sign language, and braille. 

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

Talking Books and Reading Disabilities Reference Guide shares information on eligibility and the application process for becoming an NLS patron as well as resources for those with reading disabilities.

Services for Children with Disabilities External collects resources to help you support your child’s growth and development, as well as learn about the laws that ensure your child has access to support and services.

Video Gaming Accessibility Reference Guide curates the work and products of individuals and organizations who have taken up the challenge of adapting or modifying games and controllers for people with disabilities.

Textbooks Reference Guide lists organizations meeting the special academic needs some students might face as they pursue their education.

Catalogs for Other Organizations provides a list of other libraries and book companies circulating accessible books.

Explore the variety of 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.

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