Blog Archives

Free Audio Book Resources

Individuals with disabilities that affect their access to print have some free options  for obtaining audio and braille books, magazines and pod casts. The local public library is bound to have a collection of popular audio books that can borrowed at no cost, as long as you have a library card and return the books on time. In many libraries, books can be reserved in advance and/or brought in from another branch so you are not limited to what happens to be on the shelves of that branch on a particular day.  Public libraries often raise money by selling donated books and used ones that they have replaced. It’s a low-cost way to build your home library.

The North Carolina Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped has a history that goes back to 1958.  With Federal, State and private funding, it eventually became part of a regional network of libraries operated by the the Library of Congress.  Even though the name of the library has not kept up with current preferred disability language, the library itself has continued to change with the times and now offers materials in a wide variety of accessible formats fr people of all ages.  Individuals must complete an application  and provide documentation of a disability that qualifies them to use the library.   Please visit the website to learn more . If you don’t live in North Carolina, ask for the branch that serves your area.


Bookshare is another great resource for people who have print disabilities.  Bookshare is free for qualified U.S. students and schools, thanks to funding from the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) of the U.S. Department of Education. Organizations  and non-students can apply for paid memberships that will give them access to accessible materials through Bookshare. Check out Bookshare at  to see if you or someone that you know can benefit from what it offers.

Whether you are reading for school, work or pleasure, it’s good to know that there are some free services available to make sure that people with print disabilities have access to the information, ideas and wonderful imagining that is contained in printed text. Read on!

Is my child ready for Kindergarten? late winter through the end of the school year, many parents of kindergarten-eligible children wrestle with the option of keeping them in preschool for one more year.  The child may have a late birthday that would make them among the youngest in their class.  Many parents assume that boys have a particular challenge with maturity that might make them good candidates to sit out a year and continue their social development before going on to the “big school.”  As always, these are very personal decisions that parents have to make based on their knowledge of their child and a host of other factors.

For parents of children who experience disabilities or significant developmental delays, things are a bit more complicated.  Many of these children already receive special education services as preschoolers.  Even if their child is making progress, many parents  think about what is typically expected in a regular kindergarten class these days and they don’t see their child as being able to meet those expectations.  Some children are also small for their age, can’t communicate well, have poor motor skills or are medically fragile.  The parents may conclude that their child is just not “ready” for kindergarten, and therefore should remain in preschool.  This may sound logical, or make sense on a parent gut level, but there is still more to consider.

1)  The child may not continue to receive the special education services that they now get as a preschooler.  The special education funding that comes from the Federal special education law, IDEA, is connected to the different parts of the law.   In general, a school system cannot use preschool money to serve school-aged children, and they will not be able to draw down funds for a school-aged child unless the child is enrolled in school.  That basically leaves no special education funds available to serve a school-aged child who is not enrolled in school, except for in a couple of specific rare circumstances.  Unless  you have another way to obtain the services that your child needs, you may have to weigh the cost of not having services against the benefit of more time.

2)  Are you just delaying the inevitable, or will this extra year be a game-changer?  Some children may be behind in their development due to challenges that have been reduced in terms of impact.  For example, a child may have had a visual,  hearing, or motor problem that has been corrected or compensated for.  Other children may have experienced medical conditions that limited their ability to interact with the world and do the developmental work of childhood.  For these children, having a year to grow and gain skills under much improved circumstances may make a tremendous difference in their overall functioning.  One could still debate whether planning for two years in kindergarten to allow time to catch up, would be just as, or more beneficial than the extra year in preschool.

3)  All children should be expected to make progress in their development if they are provided with stimulation and proper nutrition.  Many children, however, will probably continue to be functioning well below their typical peers, even after an extra year.  A 5-year-old with a chronic condition, who is functioning at the 3 year-old level, will probably still not be ready for kindergarten a year from now.  He’ll just be a year older.

4) Is kindergarten ready for your child?  That’s the real question.  Don’t think of school as a one-size-fits-all situation that your child has to fit into.  As a child with a disability and an individualized education program (IEP), your child is entitled to a free appropriate public education that meets her unique needs.  You and the rest of the IEP team will decide what that should look like for your child.  Your child can get extra support in the regular education setting, in a special education setting, or a combination of the two.  She can spend time with typically-developing children and still get the special education and related services that she needs.  She can have modifications and accommodations that will allow her to access her education and participate in school activities in a way that makes sense for her.  An individual health plan can be developed to address any special health or medical needs.

Instead of trying to keep  your child out of school until you can make a round peg fit into a square hole, you and your child’s IEP team can design a heart-shaped hole that the child you love can fit into with relative ease.  School doesn’t have to be scary.

Accessible travel and recreation in NC

Cover of ACCESS NC GuidebookThe latest edition of ACCESS North Carolina: A Vacation and Travel Guide for People with Disabilities is available just in time for summer fun and travel.

This comprehensive guide provides a wealth of information about the accessibility of a wide variety of travel destinations, parks, museums and other attractions throughout the state of North Carolina.  It is funded by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services  and actually produced by inmates in NC Department of Correction facilities.  Chalk up one for rehabilitation!

ACCESS North Carolina is divided into five regions of the state and there is also a special section with additional related resources.  Using a mix of text and icons, each listing includes general information about each tourist site and specific information about:

  • Parking
  • Types of paths
  • Entrances
  • Restrooms
  • Water fountains and elevators (if available)

Each listing rates (and describes) how accessible the tourist site is for people with physical/mobility challenges.  Where applicable the listing also includes rates how accessible the site is for visitors who are Deaf or hard of hearing, visitors with vision loss, visitors with intellectual disabilities and visitors with other types of disabilities.  Other information that may be important to planning a visit (e.g. dates of operation, cost, etc.) is also included.

Access North Carolina is available at all North Carolina Welcome Centers and on line at:

A text-only version is also available at

Free copies can also be obtained from the NC Division of Tourism, Film and Sports Development at 1-800-VISIT NC or by calling the NC Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services at 1-800-689-9090 or 919-733-5924 (TDD: Telecommunicative Device for the Deaf).

North Carolina is a beautiful state and there is so much to do and experience from mountain to coast! Take advantage of the summer break from school.  Get a copy of the guide and go out there and access more of North Carolina.  The next time that your child complains,  “I’m bored!” your response can be, “Let’s go!”