The Pleasure of Talking Books


A casual conversation with a stranger first brought Braille Institute to William’s attention. What he learned about us, and one particular service we offer, ultimately led him to support us through a charitable gift annuity.

Born in 1924, William served in World War II and went on to enjoy a successful career as a Chicago-area contractor. An unsuccessful medical procedure 35 years ago resulted in complete sight loss in his right eye, and a few years later the vision in his left eye began deteriorating due to macular degeneration. “On the eye charts now,” he says, “all I can see is the big E.”

Seventeen years ago, during an airplane flight to Palm Springs with his late wife Sybil, William was struggling to read with a magnifying glass. “A gentleman sitting beside me noticed and said I should make sure to visit Braille Institute. ‘They’ll help you a lot,’ he said.”

William did stop by a Braille Institute Center where he learned about our library and all the audiobooks we loan for free. “The librarian suggested three or four books I might enjoy,” William remembers, “and I even left with a free talking book player.”

A Show of Gratitude

Since that time, William has enthusiastically used Braille Institute’s Library Services. “Every two months, I request four or five books,” he says, noting that he favors nonfiction and also indulges in the occasional mystery. “Braille Institute mails them to me. When I’m done, I turn the shipping label over and mail them back, postage free.

And every evening after dinner, I pick up my machine and listen to a book until I fall asleep. “If you have a vision problem, go to Braille Institute. What they’re doing really impresses me.” William says enthusiastically.

The effortless pleasure made possible by Braille Institute ultimately inspired William, jointly with his daughter Ellyn, to donate through a charitable gift annuity.

“I got a very good income tax deduction, and there’s a good return on the annuity, first to me and then to my daughter after I go. And finally, any amount remaining goes to Braille Institute,” says William.

He couldn’t imagine a worthier recipient. “Everyone I’ve come in contact with at Braille Institute has been very helpful,” William says. “They’re top-drawer.”