The Braille and Talking Book Program offers Veterans who have difficulty with regular print materials the return of the gift of reading.

The Joy and Freedom of Reading

Whether escaping into a great novel or staying current with popular magazines, the freedom and independence of reading are only a few steps away. This program, from the National Library Service (NLS) and the Library of Congress, provides talking books, audio magazines, and digital talking-book players free of charge.

Any honorably discharged Veteran who is blind, has low vision, or a disability preventing the reading of traditional materials is eligible. Participants choose whether their selected reading materials are delivered by mail, downloaded from the web-based service BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download) or through the BARD mobile app for smartphones and tablets. NLS maintains a vast catalog of titles and publications from the latest best-sellers to timeless classics. Plus, Veterans have preferential status in the lending of materials and equipment.

The Braille and Talking Books Program is accomplished through a nationwide network of libraries to serve citizens and Veterans living inside the U.S. or abroad.  Applying for this service is easy. Call the National Library Service at 1-888-NLS-READ (1-888-657-7323) or visit them on the web at www.loc.gov/ThatAllMayRead

Veterans served to protect freedom. Now let National Library Service provide the freedom for all to read.

Update: The Library of Congress published a Resources for Disabled Veterans guide.

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57 Comments

  1. KEITH LEON PECK June 9, 2019 at 9:17 pm

    I am classed @ 10 percent, due to being on the flight line and decks of several Aircraft carriers. I have had both eyes worked on, but still need glasses to read, and even they are not much help. I don’t get around much with missing part of both feet, it would be great to listen to auto books, even with ringing and buzzing in my ears.

  2. William Wayne Williams June 7, 2019 at 11:21 am

    My vision is very poor and I could really use the talking books. I also was injuried in the back , I have rod and screws in my back and About50 feet is as far as I can walk.. I have had 2 open heart surgeries and I’m on a lot of meds that make me drousey.

    • Kristen Fernekes June 7, 2019 at 3:56 pm

      Hi William,

      Please do look into NLS services. Call 1-888-657-7323 to speak with your local talking book library. They’ll be happy to assist with any eligibility questions.

  3. James Dalton June 7, 2019 at 1:35 am

    An iPad is a really good tool for visually impaired people. The font for books is really large. Pictures can be zoomed in and out.

  4. Larry Butterworth June 6, 2019 at 11:29 pm

    Have cataracts in both eyes effecting my nearsighted vision. Not bad enough for a operation. Have to remove my glasses to read, use to read a lot. Hard to read have trouble with my eyes as they start to water have to stop reading. When I was a truck driver I used to get audio books and listen to to them. I love to work with wood I find it’s very hard to read a measuring tape. I find that I miss read my tape, I’ve lost count of how many times I cut the wood to short. Can I get audio books. I have a a 30% disability rating.
    Thank you Larry Butterworth.

    • Kristen Fernekes June 7, 2019 at 3:54 pm

      Hi Larry,

      We would suggest that you call 1-888-657-7323 to connect with your local talking book library. They will be happy to talk to you about eligibility and the specifics of your situation. They can also make some suggestions for assistive technology that could be useful.

  5. Doris June 6, 2019 at 1:22 pm

    Wonderful! I am 99, just starting to not be able to read the paper every day like I have for so many years. Computer is harder and harder to read.

    • Kristen Fernekes June 7, 2019 at 3:52 pm

      Hi Doris,

      Please do look into NLS services. Call 1-888-657-7323 to speak with your local talking book library. They’ll be happy to assist.

  6. John R Yamshak June 6, 2019 at 1:21 pm

    I think the audio books could be a great blessing to all veterans, especially the elderly, lonely ones. I can’t understand why it is limited to visually impaired. Would be a great asset to our seniors, especially those in veteran nursing homes.
    A proud veteran

    • Barb June 7, 2019 at 10:53 am

      Agreed. Open this up to those that live alone,Those that can no longer afford books, those that are over 70 maybe if you need a cutoff age,people with no transportation, or who no longer drive; let our elderly people who are now inactive activate their minds. This program seems a little short sighted, pun intended.

    • Kristen Fernekes June 7, 2019 at 3:44 pm

      Hi John,

      NLS serves people with a wide range of disabilities. If you or someone you know would benefit from our service, please call 1-888-657-7323 to speak with the NLS library in your area.

  7. Kathleen Barnes June 6, 2019 at 11:33 am

    Can the widow of a deceased veteran obtain the free audio books?

    • Kristen Fernekes June 7, 2019 at 3:42 pm

      Hi Kathleen —

      Any US resident who is eligible because of a visual, physical or other print disability can enroll. Please call 1-888-657-7323 to connect with your local talking book library. They can help you right away.

  8. Kristen Fernekes June 6, 2019 at 11:30 am

    Hi Steven, Thank you so much for drawing attention to our program! NLS services are available, free of charge, to people with visual impairments and other print disabilities that make it difficult to use standard print materials. We encourage people to call 1-888-657-7323 to reach our affiliated library in their state. Our libraries will be more than happy to help will eligibility questions and enrollment and will be able to share more about the services available through NLS. NLS is proud to have the opportunity to serve veterans and we look forward to hearing from you all.

  9. cindy ropp-richter June 6, 2019 at 11:02 am

    Wow I can’t wait to get my application approved. I am 100% for items including totally fused neck and 5 shoulder surgeries. Holding up and looking at a book for more than 20 minutes is not possible for me.

    • Kristen Fernekes June 7, 2019 at 3:39 pm

      Hi Cindy,

      Your local talking book library will be happy to help. Please call 1-888-657-7323 to find the library nearest to you. Hope this helps!

  10. Leonard Della Rocco June 6, 2019 at 10:03 am

    I’ve had multiple ministrokes that doesn’t allow me to read. How does this program work?

    • Kristen Fernekes June 7, 2019 at 3:38 pm

      Hi Leonard,

      Please call 1-888-657-7323 to connect with your local talking book library. They will help you through the enrollment process. Once you’re enrolled, your library will send you equipment and digital books through the mail or you can download books to a personal device. Either way it’s free of charge — even the postage. Your library will also have reader advisors to help you find materials of interest to you.

  11. Shelldon Silva June 6, 2019 at 10:01 am

    I require reading glasses to read small print, especially in low light. Will this qualify me for BARD program?
    Shelldon Silva

    • Kristen Fernekes June 7, 2019 at 3:33 pm

      Hi Shelldon,

      Please call 1-888-657-7323 to connect with your local talking book library. They will be happy to talk to you about eligibility and the specifics of your situation.

  12. Mark Runnels June 6, 2019 at 9:29 am
  13. Frank Borrelli June 6, 2019 at 9:14 am

    I am not visually impaired…but a little info …I love audio books …for all those vets that just want to listen instead of read …most all public libraries have an audio department …all done for free through your public library These audio books are my “blanket at night” they have thousands including current best sellers

    Semper fi and esprit de corp r

  14. Daniel B Lawson June 6, 2019 at 9:11 am

    Daniel B Lawson

    Hundred percent disabled I am very interested in the talking books please send me more information so I can get signed on thank you .

    • Kristen Fernekes June 7, 2019 at 3:32 pm

      Hi Daniel,

      We’d recommend calling 1-888-657-7323 to connect with your local talking book library. The will you also give you all of the specifics on how to get enrolled. Thanks for your interest!

  15. Ernest MacArthur June 6, 2019 at 9:05 am

    I would like to apply for the program of free audio books. I have TBI and get massive headaches and have hard time remembering what I read. Audio has been good for me.

    Thank you

    • Kristen Fernekes June 7, 2019 at 3:30 pm

      Hi Ernest,

      Please call 1-888-657-7323 to connect with your local talking book library. They will be happy to talk to you about eligibility and the specifics of your situation. The will you also give you all of the specifics on how to get enrolled. Best of luck to you!

  16. Luther Haynes June 6, 2019 at 9:05 am

    @Rockey Dale Smith:

    Thank you for your service to our beloved country Sir.

    Goto this website:

    https://www.loc.gov/programs/national-library-service-for-the-blind-and-physically-handicapped/about-this-service/

    There is a radio button that you press labeled: Apply for the Service

    Once there, fill out all of the necessary information, apply. Once you submit the information, you will see a dialog box pop up thanking you for the information and that you will be contacted within a few days.

    Luther Haynes
    US Army

  17. Kenneth Bennett June 6, 2019 at 8:58 am

    Steven Clipp, as I read your (VA’s) news, I am and most likely all veterans should be AFRAID of the new Mission Program; it seems to me like the latest scheme by the VA – Another Pandora’s Box!!!! As I look closely at the letter and pamphlet I received, it seems to tell me, if you use the outside services, all veterans will most likely be penalized because they may not understand, they will most likely have to pay deductibles, co-pays, and maybe the entire bill for using this latest and greatest Mission Program. How dare the VA spring this on the proud veterans who served there country only to use it and get huge bills afterwards for using the new program, some of which is at the discretion of the VA powers to be!!!

  18. James. Adermatt June 6, 2019 at 8:06 am

    Yes I PTSD and it’s very hard to consecrate when I try to read a book I get distracted as I read and cant follow the story and cant keep track with what I have read I am not sure if I would be reliable for this service but it would let me keep up with what I have read and let me review what I have read previsley please let me know if this is something that would be eligabla to receive thank you in advance thank you for your time. James adermatt

    • Kristen Fernekes June 7, 2019 at 3:28 pm

      Hi James,

      We’d suggest that you call 1-888-657-7323 to connect with your local talking book library. They will be happy to talk to you about eligibility and the specifics of your situation.

  19. Dennis Tencza June 6, 2019 at 7:45 am

    There is also Librivox which is great for audio books and is free.

    • Lori Manning June 7, 2019 at 7:08 am

      Your post contains inaccurate info. Educate yourself.
      Chicken little… the sky is not falling.
      IF you pay any co-pays it is because of your VA rating status.
      This program is for low vision people. ( grammar in your post – their not there)

      USN Ret – 100% DV 13

  20. Jon Irving Little III June 6, 2019 at 7:29 am

    I need a VSO to help with my VA PTSD claims I’m rated at 75% I also suffered from a Motor Vehicle Accident. I was the driver I suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury, broken ribs, punctured lung, they performed a tracheotomy, and installed and internal bag for my waste from being fed threw tubes and until I began to feed myself again. I was evacuated by helicopter to Cooper Hospital in Camden, NJ. I was medically induced into a coma for two to three months. I then went threw physical therapy, occupational, speech, cognitive therapy for at least a year and a half I was not able to be released to my full time job as an Federal Employee at Lakehurst, Naval Airbase as a supervisor floor technician I was a WG 12 step four or five when I was medically retired from the service which cost me my career. All this took place on my travels to work. In the process I was taking my brother and friend to their destinations I lost control of my vehicle on the way to sign In for an AFTP
    to go perform my duties as an Blackhawk Crew-chief. I was put into a helicopter to Cooper Hospital in Camden New Jersey. The accident occurred on route 130 Willingboro NJ and Penny Packer Ave in 04 May 2013. I enlisted in 2006 and got out in 2014 due to my ongoing injuries. I have epilepsy, anxiety, PTSD, I sleep walk sometimes and have seizures day and sleep and awake. I take medications and see my phycologist and other Drs. at the Camden, Va in New Jersey. Due to my injuries I’m not prohibited to drive so public transportation is costly with my other bills. (Rent, electric, water, sewage, homeowners rental insurance…) If I could get some help it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much for your time and effort.

  21. Rockey Dale Smith June 6, 2019 at 3:42 am

    Dear Sirs,

    I am a Vietnam veteran, who wishes to use the talking books but do not see a way to get in.
    I would appreciate your instructions.

    Thank You,

    Rockey Smith HM Second Class Petty Officer

    • Steven Clipp June 6, 2019 at 8:43 am

      Thank you for your service Doc – Please call the National Library Service at 1-888-NLS-READ (1-888-657-7323) or visit them on the web at http://www.loc.gov/ThatAllMayRead.

    • John Eden June 6, 2019 at 9:06 am

      Well just like everything ‘.gov’ there is flaming hoops to jump thru.
      C’mon VA, when will you pull your heads out?!
      If you tell us you’re going to offer free audible books. Just offer us the free books. Give us a link for audible.com.

      Rockey,
      The link below is for an application you will need to fill out.
      http://www.loc.gov/nls/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/application.pdf

  22. Jerry Woods June 6, 2019 at 3:37 am

    I am interested in the talking books for Veterans. Such as myself.
    Thank you very much!
    Jerry Woods

    • Kristen Fernekes June 7, 2019 at 3:26 pm

      Hi Daniel,

      Please call 1-888-657-7323 to reach your local talking book library. They will be happy to help you right away.

  23. Viviane Mulunda wa Mulunda June 6, 2019 at 3:32 am

    I would like to make an appointment

    • Kristen Fernekes June 7, 2019 at 3:24 pm

      Hi Viviane,

      Please call 1-888-657-7323 to connect with your local talking book library. They will be happy to talk to you about eligibility and services.

  24. Kelvin V Neilson June 6, 2019 at 2:07 am

    First introduced to this site/service today. GREAT resource!!! Will be returning to stay somewhat current on what is going on in the world of Veterans.
    Thank you for your efforts on project and for service to our country. I’m a old Viet Nam era Army vet.
    Happy trails, kel

  25. Andrea E. Gutierrez June 6, 2019 at 1:09 am

    I am a 100% Service Connected Disabled Vet. I’d like to participate in the audio book program. I can see, with glasses, but my hands are badly crippled with arthritis. It.is very hard for me to hold a book, or turn pages. I have 1 finger I sort of type with on a Kindle. Would I qualify? I used to read many books. It helps my PTSD. Please advise.

    • Kristen Fernekes June 7, 2019 at 3:22 pm

      Hi Andrea,

      We’d suggest that you call 1-888-657-7323 to connect with your local talking book library. They will be happy to talk to you about eligibility and the specifics of your situation. Hope this helps!

  26. lloyd moffitt June 6, 2019 at 12:49 am

    this is a great addition to the vast array of va gifts to veterans. good work

  27. Kathleen M Thomas June 5, 2019 at 11:01 pm

    I would love to listen to audio books but don’t have any equipment. I a Navy vet ,73 yrs ,PTSD in San Jose California

    • Kristen Fernekes June 7, 2019 at 3:20 pm

      Hi Kathleen,

      NLS will send you playback equipment free of charge. Call 1-888-657-7323 to connect with your local talking book library in California. They will be happy to talk to you about all of our services.

  28. Barbara June 5, 2019 at 10:55 pm

    Absolutely a great and fulfilling endeavor.

  29. CrustyOldGeezer June 5, 2019 at 10:52 pm

    I found a website where ALL 1399 episodes of CBS RADIO MYSTERY THEATER is available for download.

    https://www.oldradioprograms.us/CBS%20Radio%20Mystery%20Theater.htm

    The system is throttled back for whatever reason, but they seem to be available as individual episodes or groups of 50.

    Should be an excellent resource.

  30. Gene Whitlock June 5, 2019 at 10:51 pm

    How do I sign up for audio books and magazines?
    I have AMD resulting in low vision.

    • Kristen Fernekes June 7, 2019 at 3:15 pm

      Hi Gene,

      Please call 1-888-657-7323 to connect with your local talking book library. We have a variety of books and magazines available to our readers. I’m sure you’ll find something you’ll enjoy!

    • Kristen Fernekes June 7, 2019 at 3:18 pm

      Hi Gene,

      We’d suggest that you call 1-888-657-7323 to connect with your local talking book library. They will be happy to help you get enrolled.

  31. Daniel Nevels June 5, 2019 at 10:13 pm

    Can veterans with 60% PTSD get Audio books due to lack of ability to concentrate on reading for extended periods of time?

    • Kristen Fernekes June 7, 2019 at 3:13 pm

      Hi Daniel,

      We’d suggest that you call 1-888-657-7323 to connect with your local talking book library. They will be happy to talk to you about eligibility and the specifics of your situation.

  32. John C. Johnson June 5, 2019 at 9:52 pm

    What are “talking books?

    • Kristen Fernekes June 7, 2019 at 2:58 pm

      Hi John,

      “Talking Books” is the term that NLS has used since the 30s to describe our audio books — regardless of whether they were on LPs, cassettes or other formats. If you or someone you know might qualify for NLS service, please call 1-888-657-7323 to connect with your local talking book library.

  33. David Julio Marcozzi June 5, 2019 at 9:49 pm

    How do I use audio books on my iPad?

    • Kristen Fernekes June 7, 2019 at 2:53 pm

      Hi David,

      Please call 1-888-657-7323 to connect with your local talking book library. They can set you us with BARD mobile, NLS’s application that will allow you to download audio books to your personal device.

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