Have you ever walked into a library and wondered why books in braille aren’t neatly tucked on the shelves like their print counterparts? Unless you’re a braille reader or know someone who is, it’s unlikely that the thought has crossed your mind; it didn’t cross mine until I started working for Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.
So where are all the braille books? Well, most of the time, they haven’t even been published. If you’re visually impaired and a reader of braille, the number of braille books at your disposal is roughly 1% that of what’s available to readers of printed text. This is where the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (LBPH) comes in. LBPH is both a branch of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and a cooperating library of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS). Established by the Library of Congress in 1931, NLS is a network of libraries that provides free braille and talking book library service for people with temporary or permanent low vision, blindness, physically based reading disabilities, or learning disabilities. At LBPH, we ensure that all may read by providing eligible patrons living in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania access to books in specialized formats: in braille, audio, and large print formats, mailed to your door for free, or instantly downloadable.
This special program isn’t just for qualifying adults, it’s for kids and teens too! And not just “blind” or “physically handicapped” kids and teens, as our name might suggest. Kids and teens with low vision, blindness, deaf-blindness, dyslexia, autism, and many other reading or physically based disabilities are eligible for library service from LBPH. If you’re unsure whether your child qualifies, contact us—we’re happy to discuss your child’s unique needs to connect you with resources that may be of interest to you and your child.
In addition to braille, LBPH can provide your child with digital talking books (specially formatted audio books designed for ease of use by individuals with visual or physical disabilities), large print books suitable for readers of all ages, their favorite movies now with audio description, bestselling children’s books on Playaway, access to BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download), an application for iOS and Android devices that allows you to instantly download electronic or web braille and digital talking books. All of LBPH’s physical materials can be mailed right to your door for free—when your child is finished enjoying the latest book or movie, simply place it in the postage-free mailing container that we provide and put it in the mail. It’s that simple! We also never charge late fees for overdue materials. Sound too good to be true? It’s not!
In addition to our collection of materials for individuals with special needs, we have many books for parents, caregivers, and educators: from guides to assistive technology and devices, to memoirs written by parents of children with special needs. Another thing to note is that educators and professionals working with individuals with special needs can sign up for an LBPH account, too! LBPH can connect you with resources to support you in your work with individuals of all ages.
To take advantage of this free service, visit the LBPH location page. There, you can find more information about LBPH’s offerings, download an application for library service, browse our catalog, and stay up-to-date with the latest news from LBPH! Still have questions? Give us a call or email us today!
Share the gift of reading, and spread the word about Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped so that all may read.
Briana is a Library Assistant at the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, drinking strong coffee, and exploring Pittsburgh.