Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Reading by listening

Correspondence over yesterday's post put me in mind of the fact that I read more books on tape these days than I do books in hand. The reason is that in 1996 a brain tumor I didn't know I had led to my having double vision (I told part of the story on May 5). The visual problem rendered me eligible to use a Library of Congress program for the blind and physically handicapped. Services include free postage for borrowing and returning tapes (and Braille and large-type books) and free use of a special player for their half-speed recorded tapes (you can speed up or slow down the tape depending on the material and how fast the narrator is talking).

If you or a friend of yours could benefit from the Library of Congress program, you can learn more about it by visiting the home page of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS). The NLS will soon migrate from books on tape to digitally recorded books.

My use of this program has been for me a blessing, as indeed was the discovery of the brain tumor, which otherwise would probably have killed me eventually in my sleep. I had already become acquainted with reading by being read to through the writings of Ved Mehta (born 1934), who was for many years a staff writer of The New Yorker Magazine. Both my wife and I highly recommend any of his books. Not only is he a great writer by any standard, but also he has traveled and done research all over the world as a blind man.

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