New York State Library
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Applying for Talking Book and Braille Library (TBBL) Service

To borrow audio or braille books, you have to register with the Talking Book and Braille Library. Please fill out one of the applications below and return it to us.

Applications may be completed entirely online and submitted by email. Printed applications can be submitted by fax or mail. 
We do accept electronic certification instead of a handwritten signature. The certifier must include their full legal name; title/position; organization name; complete mailing address; email address; telephone number; and date. 


To confirm eligibility, the application must be signed by a professional person acceptable to the Library and familiar with the applicant's disability.

You are eligible for this library service if you are a resident of upstate New York, of any age, and you have a physical disability that prevents you from reading print materials:

  • You can't see well enough to read conventional print. Specifically, you must:
    • Be legally blind, with vision in the better eye of 20/200 or less with correcting lenses, or:
    • Have a visual field no greater than 20 degrees in diameter, or:
    • Be unable to see well enough to focus long enough to read standard print, even with corrective lenses.


  • You have a permanent or temporary physical limitation which prevents you from holding a book or turning its pages. Physical disabilities which may prevent the ability to read include:

    • multiple sclerosis,
    • stroke,
    • cerebral palsy,
    • severe arthritis,
    • paralysis,
    • a missing arm or hand,
    • lack of muscle coordination, and
    • prolonged weakness.


  • You have a perceptual or reading disability: Persons certified by competent authority as having a perceptual or reading disability severe enough to prevent reading in the usual manner.

    For more information about eligible learning disabilities, see the NLS Factsheet Talking Books and Reading Disabilitiesexternal link icon.

In cases of blindness, visual impairment, physical limitations, or reading disabilities, "competent authority" is defined to include:

  • Doctors of medicine
  • Doctors of osteopathy
  • Ophthalmologists
  • Optometrists
  • Registered nurses
  • Therapists
  • Professional staff of hospitals, institutions, and public or private welfare agencies, such as an educator, social worker, case worker, counselor, rehabilitation teacher, certified reading specialist, school psychologist, superintendent, or librarian.

In the absence of any of these, certification may be made by professional librarians or by any person whose competence under specific circumstances is acceptable to the Library of Congress. 

What Happens Next?

When we receive your completed application, we will register you for service and send you:

  • the requested equipment;
  • a "new reader packet" containing a welcome letter, sample catalogs of our books, and a Guide to Library Services, which explains how to use the library and how to get the best service for your own particular reading needs; and
  • several books in subject areas you told us you like (if you asked the Library to choose books for you).

If you have any questions about the application, or about the service in general, please contact TBBL .

We encourage all our borrowers to keep in regular contact with us to fine-tune their library service.

Last Updated: November 17, 2023