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Who Can Use the Braille and Talking Book Library Service

Northern Californians residing in our service area, who meet the following federal criteria can borrow material from BTBL.

  • If your visual disability, with correction and regardless of optical measurement, is certified by competent authority as preventing the reading of standard printed material.
  • If you are certified by competent authority as unable to read or unable to use standard printed material as a result of physical limitations.
  • If you are certified by competent authority as having a reading disability resulting from organic dysfunction and of sufficient severity to prevent the reading of printed material in a normal manner.

In cases of blindness, visual disability or physical limitations, "competent authority" is defined by federal regulations to include doctors of medicine, doctors of osteopathy, ophthalmologists, optometrists, registered nurses, therapists, professional staff of hospitals, institutions, and public or 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.

In case of reading disability from organic dysfunction, competent authority is defined by federal regulations as doctors of medicine who may consult with colleagues in associated disciplines.

Residents of San Francisco County should contact the Library for the Blind and Print Disabled in San Francisco, residents of Fresno, Madera, Kings, and Tulare  counties may contact the Fresno Talking Book Library for the Blind, and Southern California residents may contact the Braille Institute Library in Los Angeles.

Other U. S. residents who meet the above criteria should contact their regional or subregional libraries. To search for your network library go to: