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Congress Establishes the First "Talking-Books" to Help Blind Adults Who Can't Read

Box containing Sound Reproduction Records for the Blind
Box containing Talking Books mailed postage free.

In 1931 the U. S. Congress established the talking-book program, intended to help blind adults who couldn’t read print.

This program was called "Books for the Adult Blind Project." The American Foundation for the Blind developed the first talking books in 1932. One year later the first reproduction machine began the process of mass publishing talking books.

The talking books program created spoken texts on phonograph recordings that in the 1930s could play about 20 minutes of speech or music. Prior to that talking books were impractical because Edison-type cylinder recordings could hold only about 4 minutes of speech or sound.

"The first test recordings in 1932 included a chapter from Helen Keller's Midstream and Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven".[1] The organization received congressional approval for exemption from copyright and free postal distribution of talking books.[1] The first recordings made for the Talking Books Program in 1934 included sections of the Bible; the Declaration of Independence and other patriotic documents; plays and sonnets by Shakespeare; and fiction by Gladys Hasty CarrollE. M. DelafieldCora JarrettRudyard KiplingJohn Masefield, and P. G. Wodehouse." (Wikipedia article on Audiobook, accessed 9-2020).


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