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Talking Books Keep Visually Impaired Veterans Happy and Engaged

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Thu, Nov 11, 2010 at 1:25 PM

click to enlarge World War II veteran Peter Hobbs has listened to 630 talking books
  • World War II veteran Peter Hobbs has listened to 630 talking books

Vision impairment have become an increasingly common health problem among US military troops, 158,000 of whom are currently visually impaired or have poor vision.

Such eye ailments make it close to impossible to enjoy activities we all take for granted, including

reading.

But thanks to the Braille Institute in LA, which offers the Talking-Books Program, the visually impaired can still cozy up to their favorite author by ordering audio segments of their most sought-after reads.

Ninety-two year old World War II veteran and former television actor Peter Hobbs has become one of the program's biggest fans, ordering 630 tapes of the audio books since his vision started deteriorating a decade ago.

"It's kept his sanity," said wife Caralon of Peter, whose military duties took him to France as well as England, where he ran a school in land mine detection.

Following military service, Peter, who studied acting in college, landed a plum role with the popular soap opera Secret Storm, which ran from 1954 to 1974. He enjoyed a string of other tv and film roles as well.

But in 2000, he had to give up most of his activities, including acting, after developing macular degeneration, an age-related disease that ultimately causes blindness.

"It made me angry," said Peter. "Goddamnsonaofabitch!"

He has since eased into his visual impairment, with the help of Talking-Books.

Nowadays, he follows a morning routine of listening to a non-fiction work at 11 am before enjoying 4 pm cocktails with his wife.

"He enjoys (the books) so much," Caralon said.

Korean War veteran Richard Perrin, of West Hills, is also enamored by the reading service.

Since losing his sight to diabetes-related illnesses, he has become glued to military history books. "It's been great, I use them a lot," he said.

You don't have to be a veteran to enjoy audio books. Those with vision impairments can sign up for free Talking-Books service at http://www.brailleinstitute.org/library.

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