Labor and Economic Opportunity
The Michigan Network of Regional and Subregional Libraries serving people with visual and physical disabilities offers best-sellers, mysteries, westerns, biographies, how-to books and other types of materials found in a public library. The only difference is that the books are recorded on a digital cartridge or printed in braille and will arrive at your door through the regular U.S. postal service. We also offer the option to download books from online directly to a flash drive or mobile device! And best of all, this service is FREE, there is not even a charge to mail materials to or from the library.
You do not need to be legally blind to use our services -- if standard print has become difficult for you, a friend, or a family member, please call
Schools and facilities that have eligible clients or patients are also welcome! We do 99% of our business through the mail, so you need never leave the comfort of your own home.
Eligible individuals are Michigan residents unable to use conventional print materials because of at least one of the following:
Blind: Visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye with correcting glasses or the widest diameter of visual field subtending an angular distance no greater than 20 degrees.
Visual Disability: Unable to read standard printed materials without special aids other than regular glasses.
Physical Disability: Unable to hold a book or turn the pages as a result of weakened muscle or nerve control due to strokes, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, polio, or other physical conditions that impair the use of arms or hands.
DeafBlind: Severe auditory impairment in combination with legal blindness.
Reading Disability: Organic dysfunction, such as dyslexia, of sufficient severity to prevent reading. (IF THIS APPLIES, doctors of medicine or osteopathy who may consult with colleagues in associated disciplines must certify.)
*Those who have temporary disability due to injury, illness, or surgery can qualify for the service.
*Institutions or agencies providing service to clientele with qualifying disabilities also qualify for service.
Qualifying individuals that submit a certified application will receive a phone call when their application has been received and reviewed. At this time, we will send you a digital machine in the mail which you will use to play the digital books. Our digital book cartridges are only compatible with our digital machines, so you will need this device in order to use our service (unless you plan to download books to a mobile device via BARD, see below). Click here for more information on the digital machines and equipment.
Braille and Audio Reading Download- better known as BARD- is another way to get books from BTBL. With BARD you can download talking books on demand to a flash drive and play them on your digital machine. Or download the BARD mobile app and download books directly to your mobile device- no digital machine needed. BARD mobile works on all iPads, iPhone 3GS and later, iPod touch versions 4 and 5, and Androids with an operating system 4.1 or later.
This program is made possible by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. See their Frequently Asked Questions for more information about this free, nation-wide program. For more information about the history of the Braille and Talking Book Library in Michigan, see our history.
The first step in beginning long- or short-term service is the submission of an Application (PDF). We are located on the first floor of the Michigan Library and Historical Center at 702 West Kalamazoo Street in Lansing. Come see what we have to offer!