Visually Impaired Children
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.
MSL does not offer K-12 textbooks, which can be obtained through Bookshare and Learning Ally. MSL does 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
A medical doctor or a doctor of osteopathy must certify that an organic dysfunction condition such as Dyslexia; Hyperlexia; Aphasia; Developmental Delay; ADHD; or Reading Special Needs is severe enough to cause a print impairment. You may need to provide your pediatrician with a copy of psycho-educational testing before they can complete the certification paperwork to qualify for this category.
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.
Last modified on September 13, 2019