Free Resources for Visually Impaired Students
While Maryland homeschool children are not guaranteed special education services - unless they enroll in a public school -
the Maryland State Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped offers
a phenomenal set of free resources for children and adults with visual impairments.
Operating as a state agency (separate from the Maryland State Department of Education) the Maryland State Library
provides services to students outside of the special education IEP process. While MSL does not offer K-12 textbooks
normally available through Bookshare and Learning Ally, they do offer the following free resources and services:
- Professionally recorded fiction and non-fiction books
- Classic, modern, and foreign language books in large print
- Classic, modern, and foreign language books in Braille
- Downloadable books and magazines
- Accessible sheet music in digital or braille format
- Ability to request a post-secondary textbook to be transcribed
- Braille instruction (Baltimore, only)
- Use of technology lab that includes a braille transcriber, and access to Jaws, Kurzweil, Magic, and other assistive technology
Qualifying for Free Services and Resources
Blind and Low-Vision Persons
A medical doctor; registered nurse; optometrist; professional hospital staff; or a licensed social worker,
case worker, counselor, rehabilitation teacher, or school superintendent must certify that the individual has 20/200
or less vision in the better eye with correcting lenses, or whose widest diameter of visual field subtends an angular
distance no greater than 20 degrees.
Persons with a Reading Disability from Organic Dysfunction
A medical doctor or a doctor of osteopathy must certify that a condition such as Dyslexia; Hyperlexia; Aphasia;
Developmental Delay; ADHD; or Reading Special Needs is severe enough to cause a print impairment. If you are attempting
to qualify through this category, you may need to provide your pediatrician with a copy of a psycho-educational testing
before they can complete the certification paperwork.
Once an individual's eligibility is determined, the family will receive a free National Library Services' Talking Book
Player, which can play audiobooks for up to 29 hours before needing to be recharged.
As a statewide program, much of the material can be downloaded directly by families. Other material
will be mailed to families, along with postage-paid mailers for sending back material within 2-months.
For more information, call the Maryland State Library at 410-230-2424.