Braille Book Review

September-October 2000

In Brief

Union Catalog upgraded for Web-Braille readers

In July NLS announced the activation of a software feature that will link its Web-Braille system on the Internet to the NLS International Union Catalog for braille and audio materials, enabling readers of electronic braille for the first time to use the catalog to search and retrieve the full texts of braille books. Web-Braille titles may now be searched and retrieved by author, title, subject, language, keywords, and other search terms.

Web-Braille, inaugurated in August 1999, provides eligible readers with a direct channel to thousands of electronic braille books. The program has proven successful, with over 1,000 patrons enrolled. More than 3,000 titles are currently available to individuals, schools, and libraries with Internet connections and braille output devices, and the collection is growing at the rate of about forty titles every month.

Building on the success of Web-Braille's first ten months, NLS launched an initiative to augment the system's search options and increase the ready accessibility of available books.

Now the records of the International Union Catalog contain direct links to the electronic Web-Braille files. For books that are retrievable through Web-Braille, readers will receive a message that notes the availability of the book as a grade 2 braille digital file. New users of the system are invited to register with a cooperating network library to establish their user ID and password. Readers who are already registered may input their ID and password and proceed directly to the online text of the book they want with only a few keystrokes.

The NLS International Union Catalog is a database of records for finding books in braille and recorded formats. The 325,000 titles listed, represented in 23 million copies, are from the NLS collection as well as other agencies serving blind and disabled readers throughout the English-speaking world. Patrons may search the full catalog of books in all special formats (including, optionally, books that are in process) or choose to limit their search to Web-Braille titles. Further information is available at cooperating network libraries and at the NLS web site and

Web-Braille magazines

The New York Times Large Type Weekly is now appearing in Web-Braille as part of the braille magazine pilot project started in August. Other magazines will be added during the course of the pilot study, and NLS anticipates offering its full inventory of braille magazines in Web-Braille in the near future.

Since access to Web-Braille requires a user ID and password, interested patrons must register through their cooperating network library.

The following information is reprinted from Talking Book Topics, September-October 2000.

For Younger Readers

For Younger Readers, 1998-1999, large-print edition, has been sent to readers who ordered it on the most recent patron survey. It is also available through your local library. Titles listed include recorded works of nonfiction and fiction that were written especially for children and young adult readers.

Reminder: TBT (November-December)--last issue in FD format

Yet another reminder: NLS's magazines and periodicals on flexible disc (FD), including Talking Book Topics (TBT), will be shifted to audio-cassette format in January 2001. Flexible-disc recordings of TBT will not be produced after the November-December 2000 issue. TBT will continue to be available in large-print, audio cassette, and computer diskette formats, and online at The braille edition of Braille Book Review will retain the one-line annotations.

Patrons who now receive TBT on flexible disc will automatically receive cassette recordings of the publication unless they request another format through their network library.

Remembering Art Metzler

The American Printing House for the Blind (APH) notes with regret the death of narrator Art Metzler. Known primarily for his work as a radio and television documentary producer and sportscaster, Metzler recorded more than 370 titles at APH since 1964. His recordings of military and political history and books about sports are especially popular with NLS patrons.


The following announcements may be of interest to readers. The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped reserves the right to publish announcements selectively, as space permits. Items mentioned, however, are not part of the NLS program, and their listing does not imply endorsement.

Vision Community Services resource list

Vision Community Services (VCS), a division of the Massachusetts Association for the Blind, has published the seventeenth edition of its VCS Resource List. The list identifies more than 100 publications, available in large print, in braille, and on cassette, with information on eye diseases and conditions, consumer organizations, electronic reading and computer aids, financial resources, recreation, and many other topics. The list is available without charge from Vision Community Services, 23A Elm Street, Watertown, MA 02472, or by calling (617) 923-2790.

Computer and Web Resources for People with Disabilities

The Alliance for Technology Access (ATA) announces the publication of Computer and Web Resources for People with Disabilities: A Guide to Exploring Today's Assistive Technology. The book helps define individual needs, examine legislation, and locate technological devices and other resources appropriate for specific abilities and goals. The book's foreword is by physicist Stephen Hawking.

ATA is a nationwide nonprofit organization that provides assistance, training, and support through more than forty independent, community-based resource centers across the country. Computer and Web Resources for People with Disabilities is available from ATA, 2175 East Francisco Boulevard, Suite L, San Rafael, CA 94901, or by phoning 1-800-455-7970. The cost is $20.95 (paperback), $27.95 (spiral bound), or $27.95 (ASCII diskette). Shipping and handling costs are $3.00 for one book; $1.00 for each additional copy. For further information phone 1-415-455-4575 or e-mail

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