Teacher's Guide to the
Talking Book Program in the Classroom


Internal Links
School Registration
Circulating Books
Other Services Provided
Registration Form (pdf) and Teacher Guide (pdf)
Related Links
Applications for service

Spotlight on Texas Books
Disability Information & Referral Center
National Library Service for the Blind & Physically Handicapped
NLS Online Catalog Voyager (formally Web-BLND)
Texas Reading Club


All over Texas, students are enjoying the magic of reading through the Talking Book Program (TBP). The program provides books on digital cartridge, in Braille, in large print, on audiocassette, and via download from the BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download) service. The service is available, free of charge, for individuals who cannot read standard print due to visual, physical, or learning disabilities. Service for students is available both at home and in the classroom.

Once your classroom becomes registered, our Reader Services staff will be happy to assist you with book selections and other aspects of the service. The library wishes you and your students a productive and successful school year.

This online document has been designed to assist you in using the TBP materials in your curriculum. Many of our policies are determined by our parent organization, the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, a division of the Library of Congress. Our policies are designed to protect copyright and to provide our service in the most fair and efficient manner possible. If you have questions or need additional information, please call:

1-800-252-9605 (toll-free in Texas)
512-463-5458 (in Austin)

Or, send an e-mail message to: tbp.services@tsl.texas.gov

When to call

Always call Reader Services when:

  • you want to order books
  • you have new students to register
  • students leave your classroom
  • your machine is broken
  • you need a replacement for a damaged or incomplete book


The Talking Book Program (TBP) is a joint state and federal program that provides unabridged books in alternative formats for Texans of all ages who have disabilities that prevent them from reading standard print books.

While we do not have textbooks in our collection, TBP offers thousands of books that students can use in their schoolwork. The collection includes more than 80,000 titles for all ages, including literary classics, fairy tales, poetry, mysteries, sports, science fiction, and biographies. Many Newbery, Caldecott, Bluebonnet, and Lone Star award-winners are also available. Most of our materials are provided by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), a program administered by the Library of Congress. To supplement the national collection, Texas volunteers have recorded hundreds of books about Texas and the Southwest, along with Spanish-language titles and children's books.


Books are available on digital cartridge, in Braille, and in large print. TBP cartridges are made for use only with special playback equipment (available for loan from TBP) in order to protect copyright and provide more listening time. Books may also be downloaded online via BARD. BARD contains more than 50,000 books and more than 80 magazines in Braille and audio formats, and its collection is growing rapidly. TBP will loan playback equipment free of charge to use with our recorded books; audiobooks may also be played on compatible commercial devices, or on compatible smart devices using the BARD app.


In addition to providing books, TBP also offers many national magazines that students can use in school and recreation. These include National Geographic World, Newsweek, Seventeen, Sports Illustrated for Kids, Reader's Digest, Spider, Conundrum, and others. Not all magazines are available in all formats. A list of available magazines is provided upon registration.


Before we can complete school registration, at least one of the students you want to provide service for must be currently registered with TBP. A registered student is one who already has an application on file with TBP. Only one machine will be provided per classroom, and TBP materials may not be used by non-registered students. In order for TBP to accept your registration by phone, please be prepared to give the following information:

  • Name, address, and telephone number of the school;
  • Contact person responsible for the account;
  • Name, home mailing address, home telephone number, disability, and date of birth of each eligible student.

We will not be able to begin sending materials to your school until the designated contact person notifies TBP agreeing to have his/her name on the account. The responsibilities of the contact person or the teacher who is coordinating the school account are to:

  • Provide TBP with the required documents for service;
  • Ensure that only eligible students use materials from TBP;
  • Ensure that books are returned in accordance with TBP's loan policy.
  • Ensure that all materials on loan are returned at the end of the regular school year; and
  • Ensure that all unused books and/or equipment are returned to TBP as soon as possible for use by others.

Your classroom is registered only for the current school year. If you know that you will have eligible students during the next school year, you may preregister your classroom by filling out and returning a preregistration form. This form will automatically be mailed to you in mid-April of each year. You can also fill out the registration application online and mail or fax to us with signature. Application is at bottom of page.

Note: Students should not take home any equipment or books that are on loan to the classroom account. If a student needs a machine or books at home, have his or her parents call Reader Services to initiate a separate home account. Teachers may assist students' parents with registration for service at the home address, but a parent or legal guardian must accept responsibility for and act as TBP's contact person for service in the home.


To qualify for TBP service, your students must meet one or more of the following four criteria:

  • Blindness - Visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye with corrective lenses or the widest diameter of visual field subtending an angular distance no greater than 20 degrees.
  • Visual Disability - Inability to read standard printed material without special aids or devices other than regular glasses.
  • Physical Disability - Inability to read or use standard printed material as a result of physical limitations, such as paralysis, extreme weakness, missing arms or hands.
  • Reading Disability - Organic dysfunction of sufficient severity as to prevent reading standard printed material in a normal manner; for this category, the certifying authority must be a doctor of medicine or osteopathy.

As a teacher, you can certify applications for students who are blind, visually disabled, and/or physically disabled. Only a medical doctor can certify applications for students with reading disabilities. You will have to submit individual applications for your students who are not registered with TBP.


Loan Period

TBP loans books to schools for up to 90 days from the date you receive them. A book's due date is printed on the mailing label. As you return books, the next selections on your request list will be sent out. If you do not return books on loan, no new selections will be sent to your classroom.

Requesting Books

To keep books circulating, be sure to keep a request list on file with TBP and return books promptly after they have been read. All of your records with TBP are under your school's name. Always identify the school first when placing an order.

The following information will assist you in ordering books:

CATALOGS. Catalogs are provided upon registration. You may use the order form in the catalogs or call TBP to order.

In addition, an online catalog containing many of the book available through TBP is available for your use at: http://nlscatalog.loc.gov/

Online listings of large print books in the collection are available at:


These sites are available for searching only. To place an order use one of the methods outlined below.


Our staff is ready to assist you in finding books for your students. The staff can look up authors and titles or search subject areas. Reader’s Advisory Librarians are available to assist you in selecting titles and can create customized bibliographies upon request. When you contact us, be sure to indicate that you are calling for a school account, and identify the school. There are four ways to order books:

  • By telephone. If you wish to place your order directly with a staff member, call TBP between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm Monday through Friday at 1-800-252-9605 (toll-free in Texas) or at 512-463-5458 (in Austin). TBP also has a voice-mail system to take messages during staff meetings, after business hours, during the lunch hour (12:00-1:00), or on weekends and holidays. Voice-mail messages are addressed within one working day of receipt.
  • By fax. Our fax number is 512-936-0685. Please include the name of the school and contact person for the account on your fax.
  • By e-mail (electronic mail). Again, we need the name of the school and contact person with each message. You may also send requests or questions other than book orders to our e-mail address: tbp.services@tsl.texas.gov . E-mail messages are addressed within one working day of receipt.
  • By mail. TBP's mailing address is PO Box 12927, Austin, TX 78711-2927. Be sure to include the name of the school and contact person for the account on the order. Do not include order forms in book containers. The orders will not be discovered until the book is inspected prior to its next circulation (which may be weeks or months).

Ordering Tips

  • Order books in advance whenever possible;
  • Remember books are mailed Free Matter, which can take longer than regular mail;
  • Copies may not be available; get your request in as soon as you know the book may be needed.

Automatic Selections

If you wish, TBP can keep books circulating continuously based on your students' reading levels. We can automatically send a replacement book each time a book is returned. Simply tell a Reader Consultant that you would like this option for your classroom.

Returning Books

To return a book, place it back in the mailing container. Turn the pre-printed mailing label over, and it's ready to go back in the mail postage-free. Please return each book after it has been read to ensure that you continue to receive books, and so that other patrons may enjoy them as well. 

Postal Regulations

By law, letter carriers must deliver, but do not have to pick up, TBP materials. If you have any problems, talk with the carrier. Should the problem continue, call the postmaster and refer to Section 135 of the Postal Manual, based on Public Law 91-375, which provides the rules and regulations governing items mailed as Free Matter.

Damaged or Incomplete Books

Put the damaged or incomplete book back in the mailing container. Turn the mailing label over, draw an "X" on the left side of the label, and return to the library. If you need a replacement copy of the book, call Reader Services, and we will send you the next available copy.


Textbooks are not available through TBP. State-adopted large print or braille textbooks can be ordered through the Special Education Director in your school district; these textbooks are also available on cassette tape. Contact your local Education Service Center for assistance.

There are also many recorded textbooks available from the following organization:

Learning Ally National Headquarters (formally RFB&D). Mailing Address:
20 Roszel Road
Princeton, NJ 08540 -6206
Customer service contact information is given as:
E-mail: Custserv@LearningAlly.org
Phone: 800-221-4792
Fax: : 609-987-8116

You may contact Learning Ally directly to obtain an application, receive information on their current price structure, or check availability of specific textbooks.


Playback equipment for school service is limited to one digital talking book machine (DTBM) per classroom.

If you need additional playback equipment beyond that provided on loan from the State Library, TBP can provide information on sources from which additional equipment may be purchased, or you can contact the Assistive Technology Consultant at your Education Service Center. Questions about accessories for machines should be directed to TBP.

If at any time you no longer have an eligible student in your classroom, you must notify TBP promptly and return the books and playback equipment to the State Library. In addition, if you find that the playback equipment is not useful to your classroom and is not being used, please return it to TBP as soon as possible so that others may benefit from its use.

Returning/Replacing Equipment

Equipment must be returned to the State Library at the conclusion of each school year. Even if you preregister your classroom for the following school year, you must return all equipment that has been checked out to you at the end of the school year. New equipment will be sent at the beginning of the next school year if your classroom is eligible. If you need service for a summer school session, please contact us to extend your service.

If your machine breaks, call Reader Services and request a replacement. To make the return of your equipment easier, save the original box. All equipment should be returned postage-free to the following address:

Machine Lending Service
Talking Book Program
4400B Shoal Creek Blvd
Austin TX 78756-3213


Disability Information and Referral Center

The TBP's Disability Information and Referral Center (DIRC) staff provides information to TBP readers, family members of persons with disabilities, teachers, counselors, researchers, and other interested persons. Questions pertaining to adaptive equipment, games and toys, support groups, and advocacy organizations can be answered by this department.

BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download

TBP readers may also download audiobooks using the BARD service.

Over 50,000 Braille and audio book titles and over 80 Braille and audio magazine titles from the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) are available for download, and the number is continuously increasing. Downloaded audiobooks may be played on the library-provided digital player, on compatible commercial devices, or on compatible smart devices using the BARD app.

Electronic Braille books may be downloaded or read online by individuals with the necessary Braille/computer equipment.

School accounts are eligible to register for this service in order to download materials for use by their eligible students. Registration requests are via a brief online application. More information about the BARD service and a link to the application may be found on our website at: http://www.tsl.texas.gov/tbp/nlsbard.html.

Registration Form

If you do not have the Adobe Acrobat reader installed on your computer, you must first download it and install it on your own computer before you can print out the PDF version of the Talking Book Program application.

Follow these links to download a free copy of Adobe Acrobat Reader:

Get Adobe Acrobat Reader

Get Acrobat Reader

Talking Book Program
Texas State Library and Archives Commission
PO Box 12927
Austin TX 78711-2927
Telephone 1-800-252-9605 (toll-free in Texas), 512-463-5458 (in Austin)
Fax 512-936-0685
E-mail tbp.services@tsl.texas.gov


Page last modified: March 19, 2014