Many who are blind or visually impaired—or who have reading or other physical disabilities—often cannot use printed materials, depriving them of reading materials that most take for granted. This can severely limit pursuing education and careers, and reading for personal enrichment. However, there is an amazing program for any resident of the United States, or citizen living abroad, that provides free audio books for vision impaired allowing for greater independence, sparking imagination and daily inspiration.Set of books with a pair of headphones around it

Established by Congress in 1931, the Library of Congress added The National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled (NLS) to provide for a free national library program that provides braille and recorded materials to people who cannot see regular print or handle print materials.

Braille Institute’s Library Services—the Southern California branch of the NLS, a network coordinated by the Library of Congress—has been a part of the process for more than six decades by providing a free library for the blind and visually impaired – including audio books for vision impaired. Books, periodicals and other texts are available in braille and recorded formats. With a Braille Institute Reader Advisor’s help, choosing books is easy; patrons select from more than 100,000 titles and 1.2 million volumes accessible from the Library’s collection.


First, to become a Library Patron with the NLS, you must meet certain vision criteria documented by a competent authority such as a physician, nurse, optometrist, therapist, hospital or nursing-home professional, social worker or librarian.

  • The application to become a library patron is the form you will need for the documentation process — one of Braille Institute’s Reader Advisors can assist with any questions or support needed.
  • After becoming a Library Patron, you will have a couple of options for accessing books either in audio book format which you access via your smart device; or through the Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD) program — which requires a second account to be created in order to access the BARD site. 
  • Once all set-up, you will have access to a world of reading material through the online catalog, where you will have the ability to view your request list, items on reserve, books currently checked out and borrowed over the last three years and more.

Thousands of individuals each year use the Braille Institute Library to fulfill their reading needs, ranging from serious books for school or work to recreation and leisure. What’s more, listening to audio books can help with critical thinking, building language skills, improving memory, and helping you peddle through an hour on a stationary bike! There are titles for every genre including young adult, non-fiction, the California Collection and so much more for your reading pleasure and enrichment.

Get started reading audio books for vision impaired today! Braille Institute Reader Advisors are more than willing to help you with the application process. They can also suggest titles based on your interests or help you find titles by your favorite authors.

For more information call us at 1(800) 808-2555 or (323) 660-3880, Monday – Friday 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (PT).  Or, you can also email to obtain more information.