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Wisconsin Talking Book and Braille Library (WTBBL)

Link to the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped webpage

Application forms available on Applications and Eligibility page.

 

Instructions for iOS (Apple) and Android apps for the BARD program available on National Library Service website.

 

As part of a national network cooperating with the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), the Wisconsin Talking Book and Braille Library (WTBBL) provides audio books and brailled materials to persons, living in Wisconsin, who cannot see regular print or handle print materials. WTBBL patrons receive and return books and equipment, postage-free through the U.S. Postal Service. WTBBL currently serves nearly 7,000 registered patrons and over 580 institutions (e.g. libraries, schools, nursing homes, veterans centers). There were 1,087 new registrations in 2017.

In addition, the WTBBL circulates audio books and brailled materials about Wisconsin or by Wisconsin authors, as well as audio-described DVDs.

The NLS Talking Book Program was established by an Act of Congress in 1931. WTBBL joined the NLS network in 1961. The current digital players and cartridges replaced the cassette players and tapes in 2009. Specially-designed USB flash-drive cartridges hold one or more books or magazines. The digital players include a variety of user-friendly options including bookmark navigation controls, optional battery power for portability, and a sleep timer. Using the player’s volume, tone and speed controls, patrons enjoy easier listening. Direct downloading of digitized books, magazines and braille materials from the NLS Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD) website is available. An app introduced in 2013 allows BARD downloads to iOS devices. In 2014, NLS began distributing magazines on digital cartridges.

These services are made available by NLS, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) and the Milwaukee Public Library.

 

Contact the WTBBL at:

Wisconsin Talking Book and Braille Library
813 West Wells Street
Milwaukee, WI 53233-1436

Phone: (414) 286-3045
Toll-free within Wisconsin: (800) 242-8822
Fax: (414) 286-3102
Email: wtbbl@milwaukee.gov

 

Search the Online Catalog

Use the WTBBL Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC) to search for books in the collection and order them online. To order books you will need a special user name and password, which you can obtain by calling the Library at (414) 286-3045 (Milwaukee area) or (800) 242-8822 (toll-free within Wisconsin) or by sending an email to wtbbl@milwaukee.gov. A user name or password is not required just to search the OPAC. Registered users who wish to place their requests directly on the OPAC should contact WTBBL for their login and password.

 

Who is Eligible for Services?

Wisconsin residents, who have one or more of the following reading disabilities, as certified by a competent authority, are eligible for free library services from the Wisconsin Talking Book and Braille Library:

  • Visual Handicap: Inability to read standard print materials without special aids or devices other than regular glasses.
  • Legal Blindness: Legal blindness is defined as having no more than 10% of normal vision in the better eye with maximum correction.
  • Physical Handicap: Inability to read standard print materials as a result of physical limitations, e.g., paralysis, missing arms or hands, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, etc.
  • Reading Disability: Organic dysfunction of sufficient severity as to prevent reading in a normal manner, as certified by a physician.

Services are also available to schools, hospitals, nursing homes and other institutions which serve people with qualifying handicaps.

What Services are Provided?

Reading Material: The Wisconsin Talking Book and Braille Library provides books and magazines in two formats: Braille and audio recorded books. The collection numbers about 200,000 items and over 40,000 different titles. Bestsellers, romances, mysteries, classics, sports and travel are just a few of the many subject areas to choose from. Materials are available for adults, young adults and children. The Wisconsin Talking Book and Braille Library also lends audio-described DVDs.

Equipment and Accessories: The library provides playback machines as well as accessories for the machines to include:

  • Headphones 
  • Pillow Speaker (issued only to readers confined to bed)
  • USB Breath Switch
  • USB Digital Talking Book Cartridge Cable (used to connect a blank digital talking book cartridge to a USB port on a computer)
  • USB Flash Drive Adaptor (lets you use a personal flash drive with the player)
  • High-Volume Player and Headphones 
    • NLS has developed a high-volume version of the digital talking book player for use by patrons who are hearing impaired. The player has been programmed to have an amplified volume up to 120 dB. The high-volume feature only works when using the high-volume player and specialized NLS-supplied stereo headphones. This new player and headphone combination replaces the amplifier/headset accessory currently in use. Patrons will need to return their current digital player after receiving the high-volume player and headset. A return label will be included with the high-volume player that will be mailed directly to you from NLS. To apply, contact the WTBBL for a high-volume and headphones application.

Selection: Catalogs and announcements of new books are mailed to readers in a variety of formats (large print, audio and Braille). "Talking Book Topics" and "Braille Book Review" are bimonthly publications that inform patrons of new acquisitions and related library services. The majority of patrons choose to have the library "auto select" their reading materials, based on a profile they set up.

Reaching Out: Patrons of the Wisconsin Talking Book and Braille Library receive a newsletter, "The Bulletin Board," which provides features, announcements, resources and updates. If you would like a WTBBL representative to make a presentation about the Talking Books program or to exhibit at a low vision, adaptive technology or other related fair or show, please call the Outreach Librarian at (414) 286-6918 (Milwaukee area) or (800) 242-8822 (toll-free within Wisconsin) or by sending an email to WTBBLoutreach@milwaukee.gov.

What is the Cost of the Service?

All books, equipment and services, including the mailing of materials, are free to people who cannot see or handle printed materials. Telephone service in the state of Wisconsin is also free, using the Wisconsin Talking Book and Braille Library's toll-free number (800) 242-8822. Reading materials, machines and accessories are all sent via United States Postal System at no cost to people in the program.

 

How can a person sign up for this Service?

Download and send the completed application to the Wisconsin Talking Book and Braille Library by mail, email, fax or delivered in person to the WTBBL.

For additional information, contact:

Wisconsin Talking Book and Braille Library
813 West Wells Street
Milwaukee, WI 53233

Phone: (414) 286-3045
Toll-free within Wisconsin: (800) 242-8822
Fax: (414) 286-3102
Email: wtbbl@milwaukee.gov

Application forms available on Applications and Eligibility page.

 

 

What are the loan periods for materials? 

 

Books on Digital Cartridge (DBs, DBCs, or DBWs)

  • 2 month loan
  • 1 renewal for additional 2 months allowed

Braille Books

  • Limit of 3 titles at a time
  • 2 month loan period 
  • 1 renewal for additional 2 months allowed

Magazines on Digital Cartridges (red OR gray cases)

  •  3 week loan for weekly publications
  •  7 week loan if a monthly publication is included
  •  No renewals allowed

Audio-Described DVDs

  • Limit of 3 titles at a time
  • 1 month loan period
  • No renewals allowed

Kits

  • Limit of 3 kits at a time
  • 2 month loan period
  • No renewals allowed
 

Equipment (for your use as long as you are in the program)

  • Digital Player
  • Headphones
  • High-Volume Player and Headphones
  • Pillow Speaker 
  • USB Breath Switch
  • USB Cartridge Cable
  • USB Flash Drive Adaptor
2018 Wisconsin Talking Book and Braille Library and Post Office Closures
Date Holiday Closure

Monday, January 1, 2018

New Year’s Day Observed

Library Closed & Postal Service Holiday

Monday, January 15, 2018

Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday

Library Closed & Postal Service Holiday

Monday, February 19, 2018

Washington’s Birthday

Postal Service Holiday

Friday, March 30, 2018

Good Friday

Library Closed

Monday, May 28, 2018

Memorial Day

Library Closed & Postal Service Holiday

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Independence Day

Library Closed & Postal Service Holiday

Monday, September 3, 2018

Labor Day

Library Closed & Postal Service Holiday

Monday, October 8, 2018

Columbus Day Observed

Postal Service Holiday

Monday, November 12, 2018

Veterans’ Day Observed

Postal Service Holiday

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Thanksgiving Day

Library Closed & Postal Service Holiday

Friday, November 23, 2018

Day after Thanksgiving

Library Closed

Monday, December 24, 2018

Christmas Eve Observed

Library Closed

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Christmas Day

Library Closed & Postal Service Holiday

Monday, December 31, 2018

New Year’s Eve Observed

Library Closed

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

New Year’s Day

Library Closed & Postal Service Holiday

For questions about this information, contact Zarina Mohd Shah (414) 286-3010