If you saw season three of Fox TV’s reality cooking series “MasterChef,” you remember the huge grin that lit up Christine Ha’s face each time she impressed the judges with her daring tastes–and particularly when her three-course dinner of Vietnamese comfort food won Ha that the “MasterChef” name.What casual audiences might not have realized immediately is that the amateur cook out of Houston, Texas, remains blind. From 2007, Ha had dropped nearly all of her eyesight. But she’d recovered her love of reading, together with assistanc
e from the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS).”[NLS] reignited my passion for literature. This had been what kept me sane when I moved during my first spells of NMO,” says Ha, that also authors the site theblindcook.com. “Once I went through a few of my worst wellness problems in 2003–complete paralysis from my throat down because of spinal distress, and total blindness–all I could do was lie in bed and hear NLS audiobooks.”NLS, a part of the Library of Congress, manages a free reading program for U.S. citizens and residents residing abroad who are blind, have low vision, or cannot hold a book due to a physical handicap. NLS patrons can select from tens of thousands of novels and dozens of publications in audio and braille–such as dozens of cookbooks, including “O, the Oprah Magazine Cookbook” and names from Julia Child, James Beard, along with other famous foodies. NLS also loans the mobile playback equipment required to see its audiobooks. C
omputer-savvy patrons can access books on the internet via the NLS Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD) service.Ha, who’s pursuing a master of fine arts degree at the University of Houston, constantly has a book checked out from NLS. And she now is working on her “MasterChef” cookbook, which can be set for a spring 2013 release.