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The Wisconsin Talking Book and Braille Library

Monday, March 13, 2017

TalkingBook_logo.jpgThe Wisconsin Talking Book and Braille Library (WTBBL) provides audio and braille of books, magazines, newspapers, and audio-described DVDs and videos, to people living in Wisconsin who cannot view regular print or handle print materials. The Wisconsin Talking Book and Braille Library is funded through the National Library Service, the Department of Public Instruction and the Milwaukee Public Library.

Located in Milwaukee, the WTBBL serves adults, young adults, and children throughout the state. The library provides users with playback machines, accessories including headphones, and braille or audio cartridges. All books, equipment, and services (including the mailing of materials) are free to library patrons.

If you have vision impairment, a reading disability, or if you have physical difficulty holding a book, you are eligible to be a library patron. To become a patron of WTBBL, you must complete a free application. Certification by a medical professional, professional librarian, or by any person whose competence under specific circumstances is acceptable to the Library of Congress is also required (see the application for details).

In addition to physical materials, WTBBL provides users with digital services through BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download), a web-based, password-protected service that provides access to thousands of special-format books, magazines, and music materials. With the BARD Mobile app, readers may download and play talking books on their smartphones and tablets. Braille readers also may download and read materials using a refreshable braille display with a Bluetooth connection.

WTBBL also records books that are shared with patrons on digital cartridges or via BARD. WTBBL selects books by Wisconsin authors and a local non-profit, Audio and Braille Literacy Enhancement (ABLE), records accessible audio versions of the print books. In 2016, 23 books were added to BARD for talking book patrons in other states to access the Wisconsin recordings.

WTBBL currently serves nearly 7,000 registered patrons and over 580 institutions - like libraries, schools, nursing homes, and veterans centers. Staff handle phone calls, emails, and assist with the checking in and out of materials. About 1,300 digital cartridges are checked in and out each day. This small library makes a huge impact by unlocking a world that would otherwise not be accessible to its patrons.

For more information about WTBBL or to fill out an application, visit https://dpi.wi.gov/talkingbooks.