Library Services for the Visually Impaired

The McAllen Public Library offers several services to assist our visually impaired patrons with their reading enjoyment. We have visually assistive technology, audiobooks, large print books, and can show you how to participate in the Texas Talking Book Program.

Texas Talking Book Program

The Texas Talking Book Program is available through the Texas State Library and provides unabridged books in alternative formats for Texans of all ages who are unable to read standard print material due to visual, physical, or reading disabilities. This service is provided free of charge. The program provides books on digital cartridge, on cassette tape, in Braille, and in large print. Registered readers can also download audiobooks from BARD, the Braille and Audio Reading Download service. Downloaded books can be played on the DTBM and some commercial devices. The Web Braille service allows readers to download Braille books for use with Braille reading devices. Our collection consists of more than 89,000 titles, including bestsellers (fiction and nonfiction), classics, mysteries, westerns, science fiction, children’s books, biographies, and more. Our collection also contains hundreds of titles in Spanish, and some in French, German, Russian, and other languages.

Qualified patrons include Texas residents of all ages who:

  • are legally blind (vision in the better eye is 20/200 or less after correction, or the widest diameter of visual field is no greater than 20 degrees);
  • have prescription glasses, yet are unable to read standard print material without additional magnification devices;
  • have physical limitations that prevent them from holding books or turning pages; or
  • have reading disabilities due to an organic dysfunction, as certified by a medical doctor (M.D. or D.O.).

To become a participant in the program, just make sure you meet the qualifications listed above, fill out the application, have it signed by a certified professional, and mail, e-mail, or fax it to this address.

Assistive Technology- Jaws, ZoomText, Merlin

The McAllen Public Library has three visually assistive technology programs- Jaws, ZoomText, and Merlin. Jaws is a program for a Windows computer that can read all the text on the screen out loud, makes the keyboard more functional, and eliminates the need for a mouse. It can be used by patrons who are fully blind. ZoomText is another computer program that enlarges everything on the computer screen. It is more suited for patrons who are visually impaired rather than fully blind. Both of these programs are available on a designated large-screen computer. In addition to these programs, we also have a text magnifier called Merlin. It is a separate device which enlarges any printed text (books and magazines) onto a separate video screen. The specially designated computer and Merlin are both available on the table at the north end of the main adult area.


Any patron with a McAllen Public Library card can find audiobooks to listen to through our eBranch page. Audiobooks can be downloaded and transferred to a variety of devices through OverDrive.
Holders of a McAllen Public Library card can also stream audiobooks online through AudioBook Cloud. Our eBranch page also lists a variety of free audiobook websites for which you do not need a library card. A collection of audiobooks on CD is also available near the Information Desk at the main library.  

Large Print Books

Last but not least, the McAllen Public Library also has a vast Large Print collection. It mostly consists of fiction, including recent bestsellers, but also includes some non-fiction titles.

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