Free Recordings or Tapes – National Federation of the Blind

This post is about two free services available for those who can no longer read.

My father hasn’t been able to read a newspaper or a book since November.  He thinks it’s because he’s been sick; he says his eyes are tired.  I assume it’s the downward gaze palsy worsening.  He loves the Sunday New York Times.  Whenever I visit, I tried to read some of that paper for an hour.  I get very sleepy reading, however!  I’ve been trying to find someone (to pay) to come read to him.  I “auditioned” one college student who had to ask me how to pronounce every 5th word or so.  So that was a disaster.  I didn’t realize it was such a skill to read the NYT and to read aloud.

Yesterday I came across something that might work.  It’s called Newsline.  The National Federation of the Blind offers this service.  There’s a long list of national and local papers that are recorded, including USA Today, The New York Times, the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, The Christian Science Monitor, and the Wall Street Journal.

You call a number (presumably local or tollfree), push some buttons, and recordings of the articles you want are played for you.  Obviously, this will work best if there’s a speakerphone.  Apparently you can set up “favorites” and the service will recognize the phone # you are calling from, some hopefully the button pushing at my Dad’s end will be minimal.  I figure that if he can’t do it however, I should be able to get an aide to help out.

You can find info online to sign up —  There is a very easy one-page application.  There needs to be some certification of blindness or visual impairment.  We have a letter from Dad’s eye doctor (OD) saying that he has downward gaze palsy due to PSP.

I’ve also found that the Library of Congress has a National Library Service for the Blind.  The NLS offers many books on tape, even nonfiction books (history and biography).  It distributes these tapes via affiliated state libraries.  The affiliated libraries in northern CA are:

Library for the Blind and Print Disabled
San Francisco Public Library – Serves: San Francisco residents only
Civic Center
100 Larkin Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
Librarian: Martin Magid
Library Code: CA1C
Telephone: (415) 557-4253
FAX: (415) 557-4375
E-mail: [email protected]
Web site:
Hours of Operation: 1:00-6:00 M, Th; 10:00-6:00 T, W; 12:00-6:00 F

Talking Book Library for the Blind
Fresno County Public Library – Serves Fresno, Kings, Madera, and Tulare counties
Ted Wills Community Center
770 North San Pablo Avenue
Fresno, CA 93728-3640
Librarian: Wendy Eisenberg
Library Code: CA1B
Telephone: (559) 488-3217
Toll-free (In-state): (800) 742-1011
TDD: (559) 488-1642
FAX: (559) 488-1971
E-mail: [email protected]
Web site:
Hours of Operation: 9:30-5:30 M-F

Braille and Talking Book Library
California State Library – Serves all of Northern CA not served by SF or Fresno Libraries
P.O. Box 942837
Sacramento, CA 94237-0001
Librarian: Aimee Sgourakis
Library Code: CA1A
Telephone: (916) 654-0640
Toll-free (In-state): (800) 952-5666
FAX: (916) 654-1119
E-mail: [email protected] or [email protected]
Web site:
Hours of Operation: 9:30-4:00 M-F

(I got the preceding info from the web page and by calling the SF librarian.)

You don’t have to visit the library in person to get these materials.  A special tape player (slower than regular ones) and the tapes are mailed out.  There is usually an application that has to be filled out to get a patron #, and typically some sort of certification is required.  (Many different sorts of people and institutions can provide the certification.)

Both the Newsline service and the NLS service are free.  If you try out either of these services, let me know how it goes!


Advance Notice: 4/8/06 PSP Family Conference

I just got word this morning that there will be a PSP Family Conference in the SF Bay Area on Saturday 4/8/06.  It is being put on by the Society for PSP.  It will be held either in SF or somewhere near SFO.  We are being asked to offer suggestions on location and speakers, so let me know if you have any thoughts.  The ’04 conference was attended by 100 people.  The expectation is that this year’s conference will have even more attendees as there is a chance an announcement will be made about a Hollywood personality becoming a spokesperson for the Society for PSP.  I thought the location of the ’04 conference was good (UCSF conference center) and suggested that again.  Hotels, in general, will be more expensive unless we have an “in.”  I thought the UCSF speaker last time on swallowing issues did a great job.  In particular, the Society for PSP is looking for practically-oriented speakers (like speech therapists, swallowing specialists, OTs, and PTs).  I’ll keep you posted as I learn more.