Wednesday, January 2

Reading habits of the blind verses the sighted

Greetings. I received the following article from an email list. I find the information here fascinating, since sighted people have much more ready access to books and other printed material, such as in bookstores, news stands, grocery stores, etc. Yet with all this access the blind still read several times more material than the sighted, according to the below article. I know that my reading has dramatically increased over the past few months since I've been reading digital books from NLS. I barely read books on tape in the past year or so, but I've read nearly 30 books digitally since September. Enjoy.

PR Newswire, New York
Thursday, December 20, 2007

Reading Habits of Blind and Physically Handicapped Defy National

Book Consumption Rates Seven Times Higher for National Library
Service Patrons
Than Average Sighted Readers

    WASHINGTON /PRNewswire/ -- This summer, when Americans catch up
their favorite reading, they will also be enjoying a beloved
American pastime
that research shows is waning. According to a study by the National
for the Arts, Americans of every age are consistently reading less.
The study
revealed an overall decline of 10 percent in literary reading
between 1982 and
2002, totaling an overall loss of 20 million readers. Conversely,
in the Talking Book program, a free library service provided by the
Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS),
Library of
Congress, read more than the general population by a significant
amount. The
average NLS patron, an individual with a visual or physical
impairment, reads
seven times more than most sighted readers, or approximately 35
books a year.

    These numbers not only highlight the braille and audiobook
appetites of
NLS patrons, but also speak to the ease in obtaining ample reading
through the Talking Book program. "NLS patrons are extremely avid
says Frank Kurt Cylke, NLS director. "NLS is dedicated to
fulfilling their
reading needs with the highest-quality collection so they can
remain engaged
in literature and connected to the world around them."

    While NLS patrons have higher book consumption rates, their
tastes do not differ from those of sighted readers, according to
Jim Herndon,
head of the NLS Collection Development Section. NLS librarians
strive to build
a well-rounded collection that meets readers' diverse informational
recreational needs. "Selecting titles for the collection is a
process. NLS librarians consult book reviews and bestseller lists,
publishing trends, and assess patron requests before choosing
titles," says
Herndon. "Titles are selected based on such criteria as literary
merit and

    With more than 400,000 titles, the Talking Book catalog is
Among its unabridged offerings are bestsellers, classics,
romances, mysteries, and westerns. Patrons particularly favor top
sellers like
Nicholas Sparks's True Believer, Danielle Steele's Impossible, and
Gladwell's Blink.

    NLS libraries offer something for every bookworm, from kids to
Summer reading programs and book clubs nationwide are designed to
engage and
reward readers. "Superheroes-Powered by Books," a program hosted by
network library, rewards blind and physically handicapped children
who use
their reading powers to fight summer boredom. Kids can report on
the audio or
braille books they have read in return for a range of
superhero-themed prizes
-- from masks to action figures. Additional reader appreciation
include the 102 Talking Book Club, which honors centenarians for
lifelong devotion to reading.

    The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically
(NLS), Library of Congress, administers the Talking Book program, a
library service available to eligible individuals of any age living
in the
U.S. or American citizens living abroad whose low vision,
blindness, or
physical handicap makes reading a standard printed page difficult.
Through its
national network of regional libraries, NLS mails books and
magazines on
cassette and in braille, as well as audio equipment, directly to
enrollees at
no cost. Further information on eligibility requirements and
enrollment procedures for the program is available at
or 1-888-NLS-READ (1-888-657-7323).

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