A young soldier was hospitalized in December 1967 after suffering severe eye injuries in Vietnam from a landmine. Tom Miller, who is now the executive director for the Blinded Veterans Association in Washington, D.C., was blind. His mind raced through all the things that he wouldn’t be able to experience again. “I’ve spent the past 44-plus years erasing that list, or finding new things I can do.”

Miller says he owes many gratitude to the talking-bookProgram of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, part of the Library of Congress. “The program is a godsend,”He said.

Veteran citizens and U.S. citizens living abroad can become NLS readers if their vision is impaired, they have low vision, or they have a disability that makes it difficult to handle printed material.

The National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research reported that 16% of the injured soldiers in the war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan sustained eye injuries. This was the highest eye injury rate since the Civil War. NLS has partnered with BVA rehabilitation personnel, military hospitals, and rehab centers to offer digital talk-book players to all eligible members. The players are easy to use for those who cannot read printed materials. Karen Keninger, NLS director, states that the hospital program provides the best guarantee blinded veterans with access to books will be able to read them.

NLS readers receive audiobooks and players by mail free of charge from more than 100 state and local libraries that are cooperating. NLS readers can access bestsellers, biographies and magazines. Additionally, anyone with internet access can download audiobooks or magazines through the Braille Audio Reading Download (BARD), NLS’s online delivery system.

Miller can read 60 to 75 titles per month with NLS thanks to NLS. Miller recalls how much Miller enjoyed his first talking-book. “In Cold Blood”Truman Capote. Between classes, he raced to his room to finish the book.

Miller says that people who lose sight might think it is the end of their lives. NLS offers a way for visually impaired and blind people to stay connected with the outside world. “You have access to so many different titles, and you’re only a phone call away from cooperative libraries,”He said. “It reopens an aspect of your life you thought was lost forever.”

Register for the Talk-Book Program www.loc.gov/nlsCall 1-888-NLS READY