Librarian's Picks: Sensory Disabilities.

'Quick Picks' from the librarians at the National Rehabilitation Information Center.

What are sensory disabilities?

A sensory disability is an impairment of one of the senses and is generally used to refer to visual or hearing disabilities; however, the other senses may develop disabilities as well. Blindness, visual loss, deafness and hearing loss, olfactory and gustatory disabilities (including anosmia, which is an inability to smell), somatosensory disabilities (insensitivity to touch, heat, cold, and pain), and balance disorders are just a few disabilities within the wide range of sensory disabilities.

For more resources, visit the Ready Reference topics on Assistive Technology and General Disability Resources or search the Knowledgebase. You may also download the brochure in PDF format. Disponible en español.

Blind and People with Visual Disabilities

National Federation of the Blind (NFB)
The NFB acts as a vehicle for collective self-expression for the blind and people with visual disabilities. They provide resources, information on products and technology, links to publications, and programs for youths, adults, and the recently blind.

Guide Dog Users, Inc.
Guide Dog Users, Inc. (GDUI) is an advocacy organization that provides peer support, advocacy, information to guide dog users everywhere, and links to legal resources. In addition, GDUI works with public entitites, private businesses and individuals to ensure that guide dog users enjoy the same rights to travel, employment, housing, and participation in all aspects of life that people without disabilities enjoy.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing

National Association of the Deaf (NAD)
Phone: 301/587-1788 (V)
301/587-1789 (TTY)
The NAD is a civil rights organization that works for the rights of the deaf and hard of hearing and they provide resources on ASL, education, civil rights laws, and other topics of interest. They also provide programs for deaf and hard of hearing youth.

American Society for Deaf Children (ASDC)
Toll Free:866/895-4206 (V), 717/334-7922 (V/TTY)
The ASDC is a national organization that educates, empowers, and supports parents and families of children who are deaf or hard of hearing. They refer parents to a wide range of information sources, including deaf individuals; families with deaf children; schools for the deaf; and local, state, and national parent and deaf adult organizations.


American Association of the Deaf Blind (AADB)
Phone: 301/563-9107 (Video phone), 301/495-4403 (V)
The AADB is a national consumer organization that helps all deaf-blind persns to achieve their potential via increased independence, productivity, and integration into the community. They provide resources including lists of support service providers, FAQs and factsheets, and information on emergency preparation.

National Family Association for Deaf-Blind (NFADB)
Toll Free: 800/225-0411
The mission of the NFADB is to empower the voices of families of individuals who are deaf-blind and to advocate for their unique needs. They provide support, connect families with other families, collaborate with other organizations at the state and national level, and advices professionals. The website has online training, publications and resources.

Sensory Disabilities

American Chronic Pain Association (ACPA)
Toll Free: 800/533-3231, 916/632-0922
The mission of the ACPA is to facilitate peer support and education for individuals with chronic pain and their families and to raise awareness among the health care community, policy makers, and the public at large about issues of living with chronic pain. Locate a local group:

Assitive Technology and Other Resources

Toll Free: 800/227-0216 (V) Se habla español.
Phone: 703/992-8313 (TTY)
Provides computerized searches for assistive devices, products, and equipment. Searches include distributor information and product descriptions. Fact sheets and information on catalogs are also available.

Center for Assistive Technology Act Data Assistance Program — State AT Programs
Provides state AT program information.  Each State is broken down by topic including:  state financing activities, device reutilization, device loan, and device demonstration. Find the AT program for your state:

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
Toll Free: 800/669-4000 (V); 800/669-6820 (TTY) (employees). (employers).
The EEOC is the oversight agency for issues relating to employment and the ADA. The pages listed here contain frequently asked questions regarding the rights and responsibilities of employers and employees with disabilities. If you feel you have been discriminated against regarding employment, contact the EEOC.

National Library Services (NLS)
Toll Free: 800/424-3567
Phone: 202/707-5100 (V), 202/707-0744 (TDD)
The NLS administers, through a national network of cooperating libraries, a free library program of braille and audio materials circulated to eligible borrowers int he United States by postage-free mail.

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