In 1930, identical bills were introduced in Congress by Representative Ruth Pratt (H.R. 11365) and Senator Reed Smoot (S. 4030), to provide adequate service on a national scale through an appropriation to be expended under the direction of the Librarian of Congress. The Pratt-Smoot Act became law on March 3, 1931. The following laws and regulations authorize the provision of library service to people who are blind or have a visual, physical, perceptual, or reading disability that prevents them from reading or handling print materials.
- Act of March 3, 1931 (original legislation)
Authorizes provision of books for the adult blind
- Public Law 72-439 (March 4, 1933)
Authorizes provision of books in audio as well as braille
- Public Law 89-522 (July 30, 1966)
Authorizes the furnishing of such books and other materials to people with physical disabilities that prevent reading, in addition to those who are blind
- The Chafee Amendment: 17 U.S.C. 121 and 121A (September 16, 1996)
Amends copyright law to provide an exemption for NLS
- Public Law 114-219 (July 29, 2016)
Authorizes NLS to provide refreshable braille displays
- Public Law 116-94, Division P, Title XIV, §1403(a) (December 20, 2019)
Updates the name of NLS and incorporates terminology from the Marrakesh Treaty and Marrakesh Treaty Implementation Act
- Title 36, Code of Federal Regulations, Sec. 701.6
Describes loan of library materials for people who are blind, visually impaired, or print disabled
- U.S. Code, Sec. 135a
Authorizes annual funding for braille and talking books to provide library service to people who are blind or print disabled
- U.S. Code, Sec. 135b
Addresses provision of service through local and regional centers; preference to veterans who are blind or print disabled
Free Matter for the Blind
Congress established the first Free Matter for the Blind mailing program by providing a funding subsidy to the post office for individual correspondence and organizations mailing braille materials, including libraries for the blind.
The Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled, or “Marrakesh Treaty,” provides for the exchange of accessible-format books across international borders by organizations (that are Authorized Entities) that serve people who are blind, visually impaired, and print disabled.