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Talking Book and Braille Service

Eligibility Information

Eligibility of blind and other disabled persons for loan of library materials:
The following people are eligible for service: residents of the United States, including territories, insular possessions, the District of Columbia, and American citizens living abroad.
1. Those people whose visual acuity, as determined by competent authority, is 20/200 or less in the better eye with correcting lenses, or whose widest diameter of visual field subtends an angular distance no greater than 20 degrees.
2. Those with physical disabilities are eligible as follows:
(a) Persons whose visual impairment, with correction and regardless of optical measurement, is certified by competent authority as preventing the reading of regular printed material.
(b) Persons certified by competent authority as unable to read or unable to use regular printed material because of physical limitations.
(c) Persons certified by competent authority as having a reading disability resulting from organic dysfunction and of sufficient severity to prevent reading regular printed material in a conventional manner.

Examples of qualifying conditions:
  • the inability to use standard print for prolonged periods of time
  • blurred vision, even if caused by medication
  • discomfort from reading print over a period of time
  • amputation or loss of arms or hands
  • disabling paralysis, muscle or nerve deterioration severely affecting coordination and control
  • confinement in iron lungs or similar mechanical devices
  • cerebral palsy
  • multiple sclerosis
  • muscular dystrophy
  • arthritis
  • polio
  • myasthenia gravis
  • stroke
  • diplegia

Certifying authority:
1. In cases of blindness, visual impairment, or physical limitations, “competent authority” includes doctors of medicine; doctors of osteopathy; ophthalmologists; optometrists; registered nurses; therapists; and professional staff of hospitals, institutions, and public or private welfare agencies (e.g., social workers, case workers, counselors, rehabilitation teachers, and superintendents). In the absence of any of these, certification may be made by professional librarians or by any person whose competence under specific circumstances is acceptable to the Library of Congress.
2. In the case of a reading disability from organic dysfunction, competent authority is defined as doctors of medicine and doctors of osteopathy who may consult with colleagues in associated disciplines.

Lending of Materials and Classes of Borrowers
1.Veterans. According to Public Law 89-522, persons who are blind or have a physical disability who have been honorably discharged from the armed forces of the United States must receive preference in the lending of books, recordings, playback equipment, musical scores and instructional texts, and other specialized materials.
2. Institutions. The reading materials and playback equipment for the use of blind and physically handicapped persons may be loaned to individuals who qualify, to institutions such as nursing homes and hospitals, and to schools for the blind or physically handicapped for the use by such persons only. The reading materials and playback equipment may also be used in public or private schools where handicapped students are enrolled; however, the students in public or private schools must be certified as eligible on an individual basis and must be the direct and only recipients of the materials and equipment.

The condition establishing eligibility may be either permanent or temporary.
Questions concerning eligibility? Contact us.

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