Accessible Documents Enrich Online National Archives

Thanks to an intern who happens to be visually impaired, the online national archives now features a copy of the Americans with Disabilities Act and other key laws, as well as artifacts such as a letter written by Helen Keller to President Herbert Hoover. This means that important legislation and interesting historical documents related to people with disabilities is now available in one place, in an accessible, online format.

Here is the article about the intern, Sierra Gregg, and her contribution to the project:

Here is the blog post, announcing the creation of the online collection. The post was written by Ms. Gregg and Susan K. Donius, Director of the Office of Presidential Libraries at the National Archives and Records Administration:

Finally, here is the link to the collection. Note that the first link in the blog post does not work, but the second link does.

iBUG, the iOS Blind Users Group of Houston

iBUG, the iOS Blind Users Group, was formed in 2011 out of a session given at the HAVIN Insight Expo at the University of Houston. The group’s goal is to help people become more proficient in using accessbility apps and features of the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.

iBIUG holds weekly conference calls and monthly face-to-face meetings, and has a website. The weekly Q&A call is held each Monday from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. The call is a help session for anyone with iOS or iDevice accessibility questions. The first 45 minutes are dedicated to the novice or new user. An app or iOS feature is demonstrated each week by one of the advanced members. The Q&A call is not toll-free, so it is best to use your cell phone or VOIP line to avoid long distance charges. To participate in the weekly call, dial (712) 432-0111. Enter the access code 154497, then the #, also called the pound sign. The calls are recorded and available through the iBUG website as podcasts.

iBUG also has a monthly face-to-face meeting on the fourth Saturday of each month from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. at the Apple Store-Highland Village, 4012 Westheimer in Houston. The next meeting is on Saturday, February 23, 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.

Find out more about iBUG at their website




Disability Groups Plan Rally for March 5th

Since the Legislature is currently in session, three major disability organizations have planned their conferences to coincide, and will join forces at a rally at the State Capitol on Tuesday, March 5th.

SILC, the State Independent Living Council; CTD, the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities; and TALAC, the Texas Advanced Leadership and Advocacy Conference, will feature keynote addresses, breakout sessions, exhibits, and networking opportunities before gathering for a march and rally on the afternoon of the 5th. Conference attendees will also have the opportunity to schedule appointments with lawmakers and/or their staff to discuss concerns related to Texas with disabilities.

Other groups such as ADAPT, a grassroots disability advocacy organization; the Children’s Defense Fund; and the National Association of Social Workers of Texas, will participate in the march and rally.

Applications are required to attend these conferences, and if you live outside of Austin, stipends for hotel and transportation may be available.
Please visit the following links for more information:

Coalition of Texans with Disabilities:

State Independent Living Council:

Texas Advanced Leadership and Advocacy Conference:

Staff Pick — Shannon: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

My favorite book of 2012 was easily The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, DB 74112. I am primarily a print reader and I bought it when it came out, then listened to it when it became available on BARD, then went back to my print copy to look for a specific quote after listening to it and ended up reading it again. That’s three times in a period of six months I read this book! You know I’m a busy reader, I don’t have time to re-read many books, but these characters and this story sucked me in.

The Fault in Our Stars is a book about two snarky cancer patients who meet and fall in love at a cancer support group, and go on an adventure to Amsterdam to hunt down author Peter Van Houten and find out how his book An Imperial Affliction ends and what happens to the characters after the story is over.

Van Houten’s book also happens to be a book about cancer, but Hazel (our female lead) explains why it isn’t really a cancer book because as Hazel explains about An Imperial Affliction, “But it is not a cancer book, because cancer books suck. Like, in cancer books, the cancer person starts a charity that raises money to fight cancer, right? And this commitment to charity reminds the cancer person of the essential goodness of humanity and makes him / her feel loved and encouraged because s/he will leave a cancer curing legacy. But in AIA, Anna decides that being a person with cancer who starts a cancer charity is a bit narcissistic, so she starts a charity called The Anna Foundation for People with Cancer Who Want to Cure Cholera.”(38) In The Fault in Our Stars, author John Green put a lot of thought into giving us real characters with strong personalities. Shortly after Augustus (the male protagonist) and Hazel meet, he asks her what’s her story. She starts to tell him her diagnosis. He replies, “Don’t tell me you’re one of those people who becomes their disease. I know so many people like that. It’s disheartening. Like, cancer is in the growth business, right? The taking-people-over business. But surely you haven’t let it succeed prematurely.” (27) Later in the book, they are discussing the trope of the cancer patient, “Right, but really, I mean aside from us obviously, cancer kids are not statistically more likely to be awesome or compassionate or perseverant or whatever.” (110)

This book could have easily been just another mushy, over-sentimental story, but it’s not. The book also discusses how those left behind heal– or how you hope they will heal– and choosing love. Augustus is describing his love of Hazel to Van Houten and he says, “I love her. I am so lucky to love her, Van Houten. You don’t get to choose if you get hurt in this world, old man, but you do have some say in who hurts you. I like my choices. I hope she likes hers.” (194)

This book has received positive reviews in such publications as: Booklist, Entertainment Weekly, Kirkus, New York Times Book Review, NPR, USA Today, Washington Post and others.

This is another book where the author’s personal experience plays a role in the story. John Green knows what he’s writing about when he’s talking about the cancer ward in a hospital. Before becoming a writer, he worked as a chaplain in a hospital children’s oncology ward. His foreword is about a young woman he met there and a foundation in her honor.

The story of Gus and Hazel is definitely a love story I recommend. It has fully drawn characters that you want to love, people you want to root for, snarky humor, and tears. Hazel uses these words to describe her favorite book, An Imperial Affliction, “Sometimes you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book. And then there are books like An Imperial Affliction, which you can’t tell people about, books so special and rare and yours that advertising your affection feels like a betrayal.” (28) I have that weird evangelical zeal about this book but it’s taken me six months to be able to put my love for this book into words. I’m highly recommending The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.

The fault in our stars DB 74112
Green, John; Rudd, Kate. Reading time: 7 hours, 16 minutes.
Read by Kate Rudd.

Human Relations
Young Adult

A miracle drug may have given sixteen-year-old cancer patient Hazel a few more years, but she is still depressed. Then Hazel meets cute Augustus during a support-group meeting and her world shifts in unexpected and inspiring ways. Some strong language. For senior high and older readers. Commercial audiobook. 2012.

15th Annual Texas Veterans Summit Feb. 11 – 13 at Palmer Events Center

The 15th Annual Veterans Summit will be held February 11 – 13 at the Palmer Events Center. The Talking Book Program (TBP) will host a booth during the Veterans Summit Expo, Feb. 12th and 13th, 1:00 – 6:00 p.m. The Expo includes state, local and federal agencies, veterans’ organizations, not-for-profit groups, schools and companies that provide services which specifically assist veterans and their families.

On Feb. 11 pre-Summit seminars for veteran entrepreneurs, women veterans, non-profit groups and veterans service organizations will be offered. The Summit officially starts at 8:00 a.m. on Feb. 12 with an opening session, followed by breakout sessions. The Veterans Expo is open 1:00 – 6:00 p.m.

The Summit continues on Feb. 13 at 8:00 a.m., and the closing session starts at 10:00 a.m. with Lt. Governor David Dewhurst as the keynote speaker. The Expo is open 1:00 – 6:00 p.m. Also from 1:00 to 6:00 p.m. on Feb. 13, Texas Veterans Commission staff will provide direct, one-on-one assistance regarding claims, employment and education.

There is no cost to attend the Summit, but online registration is required. Go to to register.

TBP encourages eligible veterans who attend the Expo to sign up for its free library service. TBP offers digital audio books, large print books and Braille to persons with a visual, physical or reading impairment which prevents them from reading a book or holding a book and turning its pages. Books may also be downloaded from a special website. Digital audio players are loaned at no cost, and return postage is free.

The Veterans Summit is presented by the Texas Veterans Commission and the City of Austin.


Spotlight on Texas Books – The Homesteader and Monuments

Here are two new books recorded by staff and volunteers in the Texas Talking Book Program recording studio:

Cover to Homesteader bok. Picture of field with a single house.HOMESTEADER

By Jack Ballas

Narrated by Cindy Johnson. Monitored by Stephanie Childs.(2005)

Settlers on the plains of the Lone Star state are being brutally attacked and driven off their rightful claims and hardened Texas Ranger Trey Bonner is on a mission to find the man behind the marauding. Going undercover, Bonner acquires a plot of land and announces his plans to build a house, hoping to draw out his quarry.

Cover of Monuments book. Looks like wooden scaffolding.MONUMENTS: THE SANDHILL CHRONICLES
By Clay Reynolds

DT 7014

Narrated by Linda Fox. Monitored by Becky Smith.(2000)

Fourteen-year-old Hugh Rudd had his summer planned: mow lawns, practice baseball, buy a new mountain bike, get ready for high school. But the Burlington Northern Railroad’s determination to demolish the Hendershot Grocery Warehouse, a symbol of Hugh’s small Texas home town since the turn of the century, makes Hugh reexamine his plans. Contains strong language, some descriptions of sex, and some violence.

TBP patrons can order these books by calling 1-800-252-9605 or emailing

Some helpful and award-winning apps


Here’s an article about the winners and runners-up of the 2012 Vodaphone Foundation Smart Accessiblity Awards:

This is a European contest, and predominantly for Android apps, although some of them are also available for iOS. Here are the winners and runner-ups that are currently available in the United States:

A communication app. Winner in the Wellbeing category.

An accessible news-reader. Winner in the Independent Living category.

Hearing Aid – Cochlear
An app that amplifies human speech while filtering out background noise. Runner-up in the Independent Living category

IDEAL Group Reader
An easy e-book reader. Runner-up in the Independent Living category

Starting Blocks
An app that teaches individuals, especially those who are elderly, how to use a touchscreen mobile device. Winner in the Social Participation category.

Speech Assistant
A communication app. Runner-up in the Social Participation category.

Hopefully the other apps will be available in the United States soon.

Disability Information and Referral Staff maintain a growing list of Android and iOS apps. Please call 800-252-9605, or email for more information.