Any United States resident or citizen living abroad who is unable to read standard print materials because of a temporary or permanent visual, physical, or reading disability may receive service through a network library of the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled.
Individuals that qualify:
- 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 perceptual or reading disability 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. The NLS serves individuals of all ages.
Institutions that qualify:
- Schools for the Blind
- Nursing homes
- Rehabilitation Centers
- Public/Private schools*
Institutions that serve the qualifying individuals outlined above are also eligible to apply for services as an Institutional account. Once established, Institutions receive one or more digital players depending on the size of their clientele, a collection of digital books, and/or online access to the BARD website. *Public or private schools may also apply, however, the students in these schools must be certified as eligible on an individual basis and must be the direct and only recipient of the materials and equipment.
Who is a competent authority?
Regarding NLS eligibility, “competent authority” is defined to include:
- Doctors of medicine
- Doctors of osteopathy
- Registered Nurses with an active license
- Professional staff of hospitals, institutions, public or private welfare agencies, such as:
- Social worker
- Case worker
- Rehabilitation Teacher
- Certified Reading
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. Direct family members of interested individual cannot be a certifying authority.