Sunday, January 1, 2017

‘Talking Book and Braille Library,’ how it works

Digital player for Talking Book
and Braille Library
Shortly before winter break, I fielded questions from the Bellview community, concerning how students qualify for services through the Oregon Talking Book and Braille Library.

The official definition, from the “Registration” page, is that in order to qualify, a person “cannot read standard-size 12pt print for long periods of time comfortably.” To qualify as eligible, the program accepts the following:

Legal Blindness: Visual acuity is 20/200 or less in the better eye with correcting glasses, or the widest diameter of visual field subtends an angular distance no greater than 20 degrees.

Visual Impairment: Needing aids stronger than regular reading glasses to read. Examples include: Macular Degeneration, Cataracts, Glaucoma, etc.

Physical Impairment: Inability to handle a book or turn its pages. Examples include: Muscular Sclerosis, Parkinson’s, stroke, severe arthritis, paraplegia, traumatic brain injury, etc.

Reading Impairment: Impairment in print comprehension resulting from an organic dysfunction. Examples include: dyslexia, dysphasia, etc.

The “Registration” page includes links to PDFs of an Individual Application, a Student (P-12) Application and an application in Spanish.

In order to register, the person needs to submit the completed application.

One important requirement is that each person’s application includes a “Certification of Eligibility.” The certifier fills out the final page of the person's application. The certifier includes his or her printed name and signature, title/occupation, address and telephone number.

Teachers are among acceptable certifiers who can verify the applicant’s eligibility.

Other acceptable certifiers include doctors of medicine, doctors of osteopathy, ophthalmologists, optometrists, nurses, therapists, librarians, “activity directors or other professional staff of a hospital, care facility, or social welfare agency.”

When completing this final page, the certifier documents that the applicant is legally blind, visually disabled, physically disabled, deaf-blind or reading disabled and, for that indicated reason, is “unable to read or use standard printed material.”

(Please note that in the “reading disabled” category, eligibility can only be certified by a doctor of medicine or osteopathy.)

The completed application can be sent by mail to mail to 250 Winter St NE, Salem, OR 97301; faxed to 503-585-8059 or sent via email to

An “Application Help” page offers further details for completing each page of the form.

Once Talking Book and Braille Library has received the completed application, the person’s account is set up and introductory materials (including a talking book player) are sent in the mail the following business day.

Patrons request books by:

Calling 800-452-0292 or 503-378-5389;
Mailing a request form to 250 Winter St., Salem, OR 97301 or
Using the online catalog (

Users are set up with a certain number of books they can have checked out to them at one time. When the Talking Book Library receives a book back, a new one will be mailed out the following business day. The usual turnaround time is three to four days.

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