Talking Book Newsletter
Volume 1, no.3
Listen to the audio version of the newsletter with the embedded player below, and read the transcript, which includes additional resources.
Meet the Staff
This month the newsletter is read by Brittany Ham from the Accessibility and Collections Team, which includes the Talking Book Service.
I’m the newest member of the team, having only started with Arlington Public Library July of last year. I’m originally from Virginia Beach and outside of work I love baking, reading literary fiction, and hanging out with my scaly pet Carmen the bearded dragon!
COVID-19 in Arlington County: Library Service Updates.
All Arlington Public Library locations are closed until further notice. Here is how that impacts our Talking Books service:
- We have just arranged to have Richmond’s Talking Books department prepare orders for us. Please email or call us at 703-228-6333 to place requests but please be aware that there may be significant delays in getting your cartridges due to a backlog of requests and mailing delays.
- If you use BARD to download books and magazines, https://nlsbard.loc.gov/login//NLS, your service should continue and we don’t anticipate any disruptions. Please contact us by email, firstname.lastname@example.org , if you need assistance logging into BARD or if you would like to sign up for BARD.
- Magazines are being posted on BARD in audio and ebraille but are not currently available on cartridge or in hard-copy braille. We anticipate that back issues will be made available via the Magazine on Cartridge program and in hard-copy braille when normal operations resume.
Area Resources and Events.
While all in-person library programs have ceased, here are some helpful resources and events that are still operating in the area:
The Low Vision Learning Center Information & Resource Hotline Remains Open. Although the Prevention of Blindness Society’s DC Headquarters is closed to the public, you can still call to get answers to questions about available resources on reading, transportation, technology, and much more. The hotline is available Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM at (301) 951-4444.
They also host weekly Low Vision Town Halls, and recordings of these town halls can be found at https://anchor.fm/youreyesdc.
Metropolitan Washington Ear is still accepting new applications for their listener services, which includes daily readings of major newspapers and magazines and a talking books radio program. They can be reached at (301) 681-6636 or you can apply online at https://www.washear.org/
The Foundation Fighting Blindness VisionWalk program includes more than 36 walks in cities throughout the United States to fund research leading to treatments and cures for blinding retinal disease. This year, the in-person walks have combined and turned virtual into a National Virtual VisionWalk Day on June 6th. You can support this event by taking advantage of their online tools to let people know why you’re participating, build your virtual team of family and friends to join you, and on June 6th celebrate in any way you want – whether it’s a walk around the block (while social distancing) or a virtual hangout with your team. If you have any questions, please contact Michele DiVincenzo at email@example.com.
Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind is offering virtual trainings for essential route planning, independent living skills training such as meal prepping, and community activities including their virtual Training Support Groups. To sign up or receive more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meeting with Zoom? Whether it’s for business or for pleasure, everyone is using Zoom to meet, and there is a free audiobook available for vision challenged people to learn about and run Zoom meetings: https://mosen.org/zoom/
Blind and Low Vision Resource Group: Update.
Unfortunately, our last scheduled Blind and Low Vision Resource Group meeting in March was canceled due to COVID-19, and we don’t know when we’ll get to have our next one. But our last in-person meeting welcomed Karen Peltz Strauss as a speaker. Karen is a long-time disability advocate who was involved in writing part of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and most of the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act. She spent 11 years as Deputy Chief of the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau at the Federal Communications Commission. She discussed telecommunications accessibility on a federal level. Some of the highlights included learning that:
- All televisions have two audio channels, including one for audio description, and they are required to have an easy way to access them (although each television set is different).
- The 4 basic cable broadcasting networks are always required to provide audio description, in addition to the top 5 broadcasting networks (these change every few years) – right now it is HGTV, USA, Discovery, TBS, and the History Channel.
- Netflix/Amazon/Hulu are already describing almost all of their content.
- The American Council of the Blind has a directory of audio described programs. (http://acb.org/adp/)
- If you need to file a complaint with the FCC about a lack of accessibility from your network provider, you can submit a request for dispute assistance, where the FCC’s Disability Rights Office works with you and the company to resolve your issue.
- Movie theaters are required to provide audio description
Thanks, once again, to Karen for speaking with us!
Share What You’re Reading.
We invite you to share with us what you're reading now or other books you've enjoyed so that we may share them with your fellow Talking Books patrons. We hope this will help us stay connected through sharing what we're reading. Each of us has written a brief review of a book we've read recently which is shared below. These books are available for download in BARD.
A week-long visit between two dear friends, the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, brings us this thoughtful discussion on how we all can cultivate joy in our everyday lives, regardless what else may be going on. This book is not about religion but instead about the teachings of these two men, the nature of joy, and the importance of cultivating it in our own lives.
The first part of the book lays the groundwork for understanding the nature of joy, it is then followed by obstacles to joy, and the last part pulls it all together by providing readers with the eight pillars of joy as agreed upon by the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The tone of the book is very conversational, and I felt the love and respect between these two remarkable men who have faced great adversity in their own lives but remain truly joy filled. This was a soothing and reassuring book in these not so soothing times.
Danny and Maeve Conroy, two young siblings, are living with their father alone in the Dutch House in the suburbs of Philadelphia after their mother abandons the family because of the house. Soon the father remarries an "evil stepmother"-like figure Andrea Smith, and ultimately Danny and Maeve are forced to leave the house of their childhood and strike out on their own. This story follows the lives of Danny and Maeve through the subsequent decades through Danny's point of view.
I am a fan of Ann Patchett, and I loved Commonwealth. Similar to that book, I appreciate the slow character development and the focus on sibling relationships. The Dutch House is also a character on its own, asserting its own role in this story. However, what really makes this book for me is Tom Hanks' narration - he makes Danny more lovable and approachable.
Note: some strong language.
Tom Hazard has a rare condition that causes him to age very slowly. Born in France in 1581, in the present day he appears to be a regular 41-year old man. His current life as an English schoolteacher trying to protect those he cares about from the sinister Albatross Society is interspersed with flashbacks to his dangerous and heartbreaking past. It is an enchanting mix of adventure, love, danger, heartache and the search for the meaning of life.
Note: some profanity.
This is an odd but strangely diverting book, a quality which I found to be particularly welcome in this unsettling time. Lillian had a tough upbringing which left its mark on her. She has recently agreed to serve as caretaker to her childhood friend Madison’s twin stepchildren while Madison supports her husband’s political ambitions. What’s the problem? Well, the kids have been known to burst into flames when their emotions run high. Over the course of the summer, Lillian helps Madison and the children and, eventually, herself as she comes to terms with what it means to love and be loved, to need and be needed. I was charmed.
Please note, there is some profanity.
Do you have a book you’d like to recommend? Please call or email us with a brief description of the book and why you liked it.
- Arroyo by Chip Jacobs, DB 98655
- Blindside by James Patterson, DB 98664
- Cleanness by Garth Greenwell, DB 98150
- Crooked River by Douglas Preston, DB 98595
- Golden in Death by J.D. Robb, DB 98498
- Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu, DB 98503
- Lost by James Patterson, DB 98503
- The Museum of Desire by Johnathan Kellerman, DB 98667
- Weather by Jenny Offil, DB 98466
- When You See Me by Lisa Gardner, DB 98486
- The Hope of Glory by Jonathan Meacham, DB 98536
- Open Book by Jessica Simpson, DB 98656
- Until the End of Time by Brian Greene, DB 98512
New Books available through Talking Books Topics, March—April 2020:
The Talking Book staff is here for you. We can help you select or download books, register for library programs or connect you with other information you may be looking for.