Harold Washington Library Center
Talking Book Center
Eligibility and Application
Qualifying for Free Library Service
To qualify for this free service, an individual must possess at least one of the following impairments temporarily or permanently:
- Cannot see well enough or focus long enough to read standard print comfortably, with glasses (due to complications from macular degeneration, cataracts, diabetes or advanced age);
- Declared “legally blind”;
- Unable to handle print books or turn pages because of a physical disability (such as arthritis, paralysis of hand or arms or muscular dystrophy), even if temporary; or
- Reading disability due to an organic dysfunction (such as dyslexia).
How to Apply
- Request an application from the Talking Book Center or download an application online.
- The prospective patron must be sure to indicate the nature of the visual or physical disability on the application.
- The disability must be certified by someone in the professions listed on the application, such as a physician, optometrist, nurse, public librarian or social worker (with exception of reading disability); that must be certified by a medical doctor (MD, DO or psychiatrist, NOT psychologist).
- Return the completed application to TBC either via U.S. Postal Service or in person.
What Happens After Applying?
After an application has been approved, the patron will receive a player, catalogs, and a few sample audiobooks via U.S. Postal Service. All audiobooks are specially formatted and require the use of a specialized player provided on free loan. After this initial shipment, the patron may determine the genre and number of books he/she wishes to receive.
Download a Printable Application
- Application for Free Library Service for Individuals (PDF) »
- Spanish Application for Free Library Service for Individuals (PDF) »
Institutions, organizations, schools, residential/senior facilities and other agencies serving individuals with visual and physical disabilities are also eligible for free library service. Please contact TBC for a special institution application.
Non-Chicago residents are provided services from other Talking Book Centers located statewide. More information is available through the Illinois State Talking Book and Braille Service.