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Landscape of green trees in foreground, with Lake Champlain and mountains in the distance with the ABLE Library logo




If you cannot read standard print books, you may be able to become a patron. The following people can use the ABLE Library:

  • People who are legally blind.
  • People who have low vision that keeps them from being able to read standard print books.
  • People who have a physical disability that keeps them from being able to read standard print books.
  • People who have a learning or reading disability that keeps them from being able to read standard print books.

This includes people who have had their disability since birth. It also includes people who are disabled due to health reasons. People who have a short-term disability may also be able to use the library. We give preference to people with a disability who have been honorably discharged from the U.S. armed forces.

Who can sign your application?

The following people can sign applications:

  • Professional staff of hospitals
  • Teachers
  • Social workers
  • Case workers
  • Counselors
  • Rehabilitation teachers
  • Reading specialists
  • School psychologists
  • Superintendents
  • Librarians
  • Doctors
  • Nurses
  • Therapists

If none of these people can sign your application, call the ABLE Library for help.

Who can qualify?

NLS provides service to individuals who fall into any of the following categories:

  • Blind persons whose visual acuity, as determined by competent authority, is 20/200 or less in the better eye with correcting lenses, or whose widest diameter of visual field subtends an angular distance no greater than 20 degrees.
  • Persons whose visual disability, with correction and regardless of optical measurement, is certified by competent authority as preventing the reading of standard printed material
  • Persons certified by competent authority as unable to read or unable to use standard printed material as a result of physical limitations.
  • Persons certified by competent authority as having a perceptual, learning, or reading disability of sufficient severity to prevent their reading printed material in a normal manner.
  • Persons eligible for service (falling into any of the above categories) who are now living as residents of the United States (including its territories, insular possessions, and the District of Columbia), or are American citizens eligible for service who are now living abroad, or dependents of active military personnel or diplomats.

This includes individuals who have had a qualifying disability from birth, individuals who are disabled because of medical conditions or trauma, and individuals who become disabled as they age. Individuals who have a temporary disability may qualify for service on a temporary basis. Individuals who are blind or have a physical disability and who have been honorably discharged from the armed forces of the United States receive special priority.


Who is a “competent authority”?

Regarding NLS eligibility, “competent authority” is defined to include:

  • Professional staff of hospitals, institutions, and public or private welfare agencies, such as an educator, social worker, case worker, counselor, rehabilitation teacher, certified reading specialist, school psychologist, superintendent, or librarian.
  • Doctors of medicine
  • Doctors of osteopathy
  • Ophthalmologists
  • Optometrists
  • Registered nurses
  • Therapists

In the absence of any of these, certification may be made by any person whose competence under specific circumstances is acceptable to the Library of Congress.