Free service gives reading back to visually impaired


For individuals who have lost their eyesight, reading may seem impossible. Thanks to a free service by the Kentucky Talking Book Library the ability to enjoy a book can be restored. Those eligible are mailed at no cost a special player for a variety of books on digital tapes unleashing the wonderful world of literature.

The Kentucky Talking Book Library currently services 3,135 people and 108 institutions statewide, with nine individuals in Knott County.

Kathleen Dixon of Hindman suffers from macular degeneration, leaving her only little vision out of one eye. Her daughter Melissa heard about the talking book program and signed her up. Kathleen says the Frankfort-based service is very efficient. When she first signed up they called her about the type of books she likes and sends one every month.

“It is great for people who can’t see,” said Dixon. “They have a lot of topics like murder mysteries, true stories, fiction, and classic titles.”

“There are probably many more people who qualify for our service and hopefully they will consider applying,” said KTBL Librarian Tracey Mania, a Knott County native. “KTBL serves people of all ages and we have patrons in preschool as well as several patrons in their hundreds!”

The service is available for anyone who cannot see well enough to read standard print, anyone who cannot hold a book and turn the pages, and some individuals with reading disabilities.

For complete eligibility visit

The Talking Book Library is part of the National Library Service, celebrating their 86th anniversary on March 3.

The organization currently has 33 volunteers who work in a studio to record books. Volunteers work in various parts of the recording process including monitors, narrators, and proofreaders who make sure the recorded books meet a high level of quality. The program has evolved over the years from record players and hand-pressed braille to digital recordings and eBraille that can be downloaded from the Internet. In addition to offering all types of books for children, teens, adults, and seniors, they have digital talking magazines and a newspaper service.

“At KTBL our goal is to make reading as easy as possible for our patrons,” said Mania. “We offer several different types of service to meet an individual’s needs. If you are tech savvy and would prefer to download your books from the Internet we have the Braille and Audio Reading Download service to put you in control of your own reading. If you would rather receive physical books through the mail for use with our specially designed user-friendly player we have you covered too.

“We’re very excited about what the future of this program will bring and how we can find new ways to serve our patrons!”

         For more information and to apply visit, call toll-free at 1-800-372-2968, or email

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