Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped

Free Library of Philadelphia


You do not need to be legally blind to use our services. If standard print has become difficult to read for you, a friend, or a family member, you are eligible for this service.

Anyone who is certified (see below) as unable to read or use standard printed material as a result of temporary or permanent visual or physical limitations is eligible for LBPH service.

Qualifying Disabilities:

  • Legally Blind – Visual acuity is 20/200 or less in better eye with correcting glasses or the widest diameter of visual field subtends an angular distance no greater than 20 degrees.
  • Deaf-Blind – Severe auditory impairment in combination with legal blindness.
  • Visually Disabled – Lacks visual acuity to read standard printed materials without aids or devices other than regular glasses.
  • Physically Disabled – Unable to read or use standard printed materials as a result of physical disability. Examples include: without arms or the use of arms; impaired or weakened muscle and nerve control; limitations resulting from strokes, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, polio, arthritis.
  • Reading Disabled – Organic dysfunction of sufficient severity to prevent reading printed materials in a normal manner. This disability requires the signature of a medical or osteopathic doctor as certifying authority.

This service is available to both individuals and/or institutions (e.g. adult foster care facilities, retirement centers, nursing homes, hospitals, etc.) that have eligible individuals among their regular clientele.

Who is a "certifying authority"?

In cases of blindness, visual disability, or physical limitations, "certifying authority" is defined to include:

  • Doctors of medicine and osteopathy
  • Ophthalmologists
  • Optometrists
  • Registered nurses
  • Therapists
  • Professional staffs of hospitals, institutions, and public welfare agencies (e.g. social workers, case workers, counselors, home teachers, and superintendents)
  • In the absence of any of these, the form can be signed by a professional librarian or by any person whose competence under specific circumstances is acceptable to the Library of Michigan Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped or by NLS.

In the case of a reading disability from organic dysfunction, "certifying authority" is defined as:

  • Doctors of medicine or osteopathy only, who may consult with colleagues in associated disciplines. The signature must be original, as stamped signatures will not be accepted.