Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped
Free Library of Philadelphia
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The Pennsylvania Regional Libraries for the Blind and Physically Handicapped provide service to the following individuals:

Blind persons whose visual acuity, as determined by a competent authority, is 20/200 or less in the better eye with correcting lens, or whose widest diameter of visual field subtends an angular distance no greater than 20 degrees.

Persons whose visual disability is certified by a competent authority as preventing the reading of standard printed material, with correction and regardless of optical measurement.

Persons certified by a competent authority as unable to read or unable to use standard printed material as a result of physical limitations.

Persons certified by a competent authority as having a reading disability resulting from organic dysfunction and of sufficient severity to prevent their reading printed material in a normal manner.

Hospitals, nursing or convalescent homes, schools or other institutions serving visually or physically disabled persons may also register with the Library.

The Regional Libraries cannot legally serve an individual who is functionally illiterate or mentally retarded unless a specific visual or physical disability preventing use of standard print accompanies the other limitations.


When you apply for the Library service, you will need to have your application certified by a competent authority, that is, signed by one of the persons as described below.

In the case of visual or physical disability, a competent authority is defined to include a:

  • Physician
  • Osteopath
  • Ophthalmologist
  • Optometrist
  • Registered Nurse
  • Therapist
  • Professional staff of hospitals, institutions, and public or welfare agencies (e.g., social worker, case worker, counselor, rehabilitation teacher, or superintendent)
In the absence of these, certification may be made by a professional librarian or by any person whose competence under specific circumstances is acceptable to the Library of Congress. Applications for reading disabled persons must be certified by a physician or an osteopath.