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

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