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May I use these services?​

Any resident of Maryland who is unable to read or use regular print materials as a result of temporary or permanent visual or physical limitations may receive service through LBPD. This includes those who are blind, have a visual disability, or have a physical disability that prevents reading.

Application Process: 

Interested individuals must complete an application, and must have the application certified by a competent authority that they qualify for services. 

​Who Can Qualify? 

LBPD​ provides service to individuals who fall into any of the following categories:
    • ​Blind persons whose visual acuity, as determined by a 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.
    • Persons whose visual disability, with correction and regardless of optical measurement, is certified by competent authority as preventing the reading of standard printed material
    • Persons certified by competent authority as unable to read or unable to use standard printed material as a result of physical limitations.
    • Persons certified by competent authority as having a reading disability resulting from organic dysfunction and of sufficient severity to prevent their reading printed material in a normal manner.
    • Persons eligible for service (falling into any of the above categories) who are now living as residents of the United States (including its territories, insular possessions, and the District of Columbia), or are American citizens eligible for service who are now living abroad, or dependents of active military personnel or diplomats.
This includes individuals who have had a qualifying disability from birth, individuals who are disabled because of medical conditions or trauma, and individuals who become disabled as they age. Individuals who have a temporary disability may qualify for service on a temporary basis. Individuals who are blind or have a physical disability and who have been honorably discharged from the armed forces of the United States receive special priority.​

Who is a “competent authority”?

In cases of blindness, visual impairment, or physical limitations, “competent authority” is defined to include:
    • Doctors of medicine
    • Doctors of osteopathy
    • Ophthalmologists
    • Optometrists
    • Registered nurses
    • Therapists
    • The professional staff of hospitals, institutions, and public or private welfare agencies (e.g., social workers, caseworkers, 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.

The competent authority for certifying eligibility as a result of a reading disability from organic dysfunction is defined as “doctors of medicine and doctors of osteopathy,” who may consult with colleagues in associated disciplines. ​

Further information on qualifying for service as an individual with a reading disability may be found in the NLS Reference Guide: Talking Books and Reading Disabilities.

Does it cost anything to use the program? 

No. The program is tax-supported by federal, state, and (where appropriate) local government or private agencies. There is no direct cost to eligible readers.

How are materials received from and returned to the library? 

There are two ways to receive materials from the library: through the U.S. Postal Service and/or downloading from the Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD)​​ website. Books, magazines, catalogs, and equipment that are sent to readers through the U.S. Postal Service as “Free Matter for the Blind” may be returned the same way. Books and magazines, in both braille and audio formats, can also be downloaded from BARD and read using a personal refreshable braille display, an NLS digital talking book player, a commercial digital player, or the BARD Mobile application for iOS or Android devices.

Does your program offer music?

LBPD does not offer music for listening, but offers musical scores and books in ebraille, braille, and large print (sometimes known as bold note), and recorded instructional materials for learning to play various musical instruments. Music appreciation materials are also available.​

Additional Information:

For additional information about qualifications for service, click here: