The Braille and Talking Book Library (BTBL)

by | Mar 19, 2021 | Accessibility, Dyslexia, Early Childhood, Education, Specific Disability

Does your child struggle to read conventionally printed material? Would your child benefit from an alternative way of reading?

The Braille and Talking Book Library (BTBL) of Northern California offers free talking (audio) books and playback equipment, as well as magazines, newspapers, and braille books. Materials are delivered by U.S. mail or downloaded directly to a smartphone or tablet.

Who is eligible? Anyone who is blind, low vision, or who has a physical disability or a print disability that prevents reading conventionally printed material. To start services, BTBL offers a simple application on our website for applicants (or their parents) to fill out and have signed by a certifying authority.

Who qualifies as a certifying authority? Any of the following: doctor of medicine, doctor of osteopathy, ophthalmologist, optometrist, psychologist, registered nurse, therapist, and professional staff of hospitals, institutions, and public or welfare agencies (such as an educator, a social worker, case worker, counselor, rehabilitation teacher, certified reading specialist, school psychologist, superintendent, or librarian.)

BTBL enthusiastically welcomes juvenile readers. We offer access to a Kid’s Zone catalog through our parent organization, the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled, where you can search specifically for books at a preschool through the Young Adult level. (For textbooks, please visit Learning Ally, a national non-profit that provides audio textbooks to students: BTBL also publishes a “For Younger Readers” catalog and supplies suggested reading lists on our website. Readers of all ages are welcome to participate in an annual Summer Reading Program with cool prizes.

Parents are encouraged to assist their children with using the service. Many parents help their children to download via BARD Mobile, an app where you can obtain audiobooks and electronic braille. There is no limit on downloads, no need to remember to “return” books, and downloads are virtually instantaneous and available 24/7.

BTBL materials can also be utilized in the classroom. Teachers with eligible students may apply for an institutional account. With an institutional account, books may be sent directly to a certified student in care of the classroom, or the classroom may register with books being sent to an eligible student at the request of the teacher.

Interested in learning more? San Francisco residents, please visit the Talking Books and Braille Center at San Francisco Public Library:

Do you live outside of the city of San Francisco? Please contact the Braille and Talking Book Library of Northern California at: