The system through which specialized educational materials for blind and visually impaired people are purchased and distributed is known as the “Federal Quota Program.” The Federal Act to Promote the Education of the Blind (enacted by Congress in 1879) provides adapted educational materials to eligible students who meet the definition of blindness. Each state holds an annual registration of eligible students and determines a per capita amount of money designated for the purchase of educational materials produced by the American Printing House for the Blind (APH). These funds are credited to Federal Quota accounts. These accounts are maintained and administered by APH and its Ex Officio Trustees throughout the country.

Through the quota program, free textbooks and aids are provided to eligible blind students in educational settings ranging from early intervention programs for visually impaired infants to rehabilitation for elders who have age-related vision loss, from center-based and residential school programs to the regular classroom.

In order for students to be eligible for registration in the Federal Quota Program, they MUST meet the all of the following requirements:

  • Meet the Definition of Blindness (MDB) – central visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye with correcting glasses or a peripheral field so contracted that the widest diameter of such field subtends an angular distance no greater than 20 degrees, or Function at the Definition of Blindness (FDB) which is visual performance reduced by brain injury or dysfunction when visual function meets the definition of blindness as determined by an eye care specialist or neurologist. This can include students who function within the definition of blindness, such as those with cortical vision impairment (CVI).
  • “be enrolled in a formally organized educational program of less than college level.” An educational program can include public, private, and parochial schools. Infants, preschool children, home-bound students, home schooled students. Adults can be registered when they meet the requirements.
  • School-aged students must be enrolled with the registering school or agency on the first Monday in January. Adult students must be registered for at least three months of instruction during the preceding calendar year (an accumulation of 12 weeks).

A Congressional appropriation, designated to provide educational materials for students who meet the definition of blindness, is made each October in the federal budget. This appropriation is divided by the total number of eligible students and clients in educational or instructional programs at less than college levels on the first Monday of the preceding January. This division results in a per capita amount that is then multiplied by the number of registered students in each Federal Quota account. This amount is credited to each respective account thereby establishing each account’s “quota” for the federal fiscal year. Each account is administered by a designated ex-officio trustee of the APH.

Federal Quota Funding can only be used to order textbooks and items listed in the APH products catalog. Items marked with “Not available on Quota,” cannot be ordered using Federal Quota Funds.

The quota funds are used for the payment of labor and materials, plus a reasonable administrative overhead. By law, no part of the appropriation can be used by APH for the erection or leasing of buildings or for the training of personnel.


  • For more information on the Federal Quota Program, go to the website of the American Printing House for the Blind at: http://www.aph.org/federal-quota/what-is-federal-quota/
  • You can also find information from the National Federation of the Blind at: https://nfb.org/images/nfb/publications/fr/fr32/3/fr320315.htm
  • Each state and school for the blind has a designated contact for accessing federal quota funds. For a list of contacts, go to: http://www.aph.org/federal-quota/trustees.html