Eligibility Criteria for Loan Service

Eligibility Criteria for Loan Service for Individuals and Institutions


The following persons are eligible for the LBPH loan service: Residents of the United States, including territories, insular possessions, the District of Columbia, and American citizens living abroad. Connecticut residents will receive services from the Connecticut State LBPH. There are no minimum age requirements though children too young to benefit from the experience of reading books are discouraged.

By Federal law, every individual who applies for library service must provide written certification, signed by a competent authority, of his or her inability to read or use standard printed material as a result of visual or physical limitations. This inability may be either permanent or temporary. If temporary, the library service must be discontinued when the condition establishing eligibility no longer exists. Applicants must be certified as having one or more of the following conditions:

  • Blindness
  • Visual handicap
  • Physical handicap
  • Reading disability
  • Deaf blindness 


Definitions of conditions:

     1.  Blind persons 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.  Other physically handicapped persons are eligible as follows:

          a.  Persons whose visual disability, 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. Physical limitations generally means the inability to hold a book or turn pages. These can include, but not limited to, the loss of hands or arms, disabling paralysis, muscle or nerve deterioration severely affecting coordination and control, confinement in iron lungs or similar mechanical devices, or other physically disabling conditions.

          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. Non-organic factors must be ruled out in applicants with adequate visual acuity for the reading of standard print.

Conditions and non-organic factors that do not establish eligibility include:

  • Developmental disabilities
  • Emotional illness
  • Hearing impairment
  • Illiteracy due to lack of education
  • Mental retardation, e.g., Down’s syndrome  


Certifying Authorities include:

     1.  In cases of blindness, visual impairment, or physical limitations, competent authority includes: 

          a.  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.

          b.  In the absence of any of the above competent authorities, 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 only doctors of medicine and doctors of osteopathy who may consult with colleagues in associated disciplines.



Institutions such as schools, residential care facilities, hospitals, and other establishments regularly attended by blind and/or physically handicapped individuals may borrow special format reading materials and playback equipment solely for the use of persons certified as eligible, and who must be the direct and only recipients of the materials and equipment provided.

Though schools may borrow playback machines in their own name, it is preferred that eligible students be signed up individually. The student is allowed only one playback machine and is expected that it be used both at home and at school. The student will also be able to keep and use the program after moving on.

Institutions are to return playback machines and materials when no longer in use.