2021 Iowa Regional Braille Challenge

Braille Challenge LogoThe Braille Challenge is the only academic competition of its kind in North America for students who are blind or visually impaired. Braille Institute developed the Braille Challenge to motivate students to practice and hone their braille literacy skills, which are essential to academic and employment success.

We are offering Regional Braille Challenge testing for students during a remote testing window of February 1, 2021 – February 28, 2021. Contest proctoring can be done individually or as a group in school, home, or other agreed upon setting with a proctor. Online training is available for anyone who will be proctoring.

Any blind or low vision student in grades 1 – 12 who can read and write braille is eligible to participate in the Braille Challenge. All Contestants are divided into five categories and tested on fundamental braille skills such as reading comprehension, spelling, speed and accuracy, proofreading, and charts and graphs.

Let’s make 2021 a record year for students participating in the Iowa Regional Braille Challenge!

Registration is open until January 15, 2021. More information about the Braille Challenge and registration can be found on the Library’s Instructional Materials Center Blog

Braille Challenge T-Shirts

To help us celebrate the Braille Challenge and Braille literacy, we are pleased to work with Raygun this year for the Braille Challenge t-shirt. All proceeds will benefit the Friends of the Iowa Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped and future Braille Challenges.

All shirts are crew neck and short-sleeved. The shirts are heather red with white lettering. The front of the t-shirt says in print: #brailleiowa. The back of the t-shirt says the same thing in Braille. All adult sizing is unisex and all shirts are $15.00. T-shirts will be mailed to the address you provide on the order form. Participants of the Braille Challenge will be provided with a t-shirt.

Orders can be placed until February 10, 2021

Shirts are heather red with white lettering. The front of the t-shirt says in print: #brailleiowa. The back of the t-shirt says the same thing in Braille

On Twitter?  Use #brailleiowa

National Friends of Libraries Week

The Library is spending this week, celebrating its Friends of the Library group as part of the annual celebration of National Friends of Libraries Week.  We would like to thank our Friends for their continued advocacy, support and financial contributions to the services and programs the library provides.

The Friends of the Library is a vital source of funding for the Iowa Library for the Blind and Print Disabled.  In 2020, the Friends of the Library gave the library $12,000.  Through their fundraising efforts and memberships, they have helped the library provide materials for the library’s 3D printer, print/braille books for our younger readers, new large print titles for the collection, support for the annual Braille Challenge and furniture for our new youth library space.

This year the Friends are excited to offer matching funds for every $20 membership for the first 50 new members. The board is so passionate about increasing our membership that they have made this match possible for anyone who has not been a member in the last 2 years.

Save the Date:

Friends of the Library Virtual Annual Meeting
Thursday, November 12, 2020 from 2:00pm – 4:00pm
The annual meeting will include presentations and business meeting.
Special Presentations By:

  • Karen Keninger, Library Director for the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled
  • Emily Wharton, Director of the Iowa Library for the Blind
  • Peggy Chong, The Blind History Lady

Join us in thanking our Friends of the Library for all their work and support. For information on how to join the Friends of the Iowa and learn more their history, see their website at http://www.iafriendslibraryfortheblind.org/

National Volunteer Month – Every Moment Makes a Difference

April is National Volunteer Month.  Every moment our volunteers give to the Iowa Department for the Blind (IDB) and the Library makes a huge difference in so many ways.  Their willingness to share both their time and talents by volunteering with the Library says a lot.  Their willingness to give selflessly to help others speaks to both their strength and the quality of their character.

For example, in 2019, volunteers gave over 7,220 hours to IDB and the Library.  Volunteers assisted with audio production, braille production, youth programs, library circulation and more. 

Our volunteers helped us do more in 2019 than we ever could have done to ensure we positively impacted Iowans lives.  We thank our volunteers!  This statistics illustrates how much their gift of time makes such an impact in achieving our mission and goals.

Moving into 2020, our volunteers are helping us through these uncertain times through their work at home. 

Two of our volunteer narrators helped us launch a new program for the library called, IDB Read.  Patrons can call in and listen to one of our wonderful volunteer narrators read live on the phone, followed by a short chat about the book.  Mondays and Wednesdays from 4:00pm-5:00pm, you call in and listen to our narrator, Christine, read a cozy mystery. The first one is titled A Scone to Die For by H.Y. Hanna.  Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:00am – 11:00 am, you can call in and listen to our narrator, Bob, read a western, titled To the Far Blue Mountains by Louis L’Amour.  Please call the library at 515.281.1323 to get the conference call number for IDB Read.

Our volunteer Braillists and narrators continue to work on projects from home for both the students and patrons ensuring our patrons have the information and materials that they need.  Our Friends of the Library continue to work tirelessly on supporting the library through fundraising and support.  And the Library Consumer Advisory Committee continues their work as advocates for our library.

Thank you again to all of our volunteers who continue to help us in so many ways!

For information about how you can help check out these pages:

Friends of the Library – Give Local

Give LocalMessage from the Friends of the Library!

GiveLocalDSM.org is where you want to be today, May 3!  It’s the first of its kind crowd-funding for local charities–and The Friends of the Iowa Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped is a participating charity.  For as little as a $10 donation, you can be part of this extraordinary event.  All you need is your debit or credit card to make your donation.  Just click on the link above to donate.

The Friends recently gave $11,000 to the Library to support literacy for our youth and adults with vision loss or other impairments.  Without your support, many activities would be curtailed or left undone.  Please help to make this a better world for those with vision loss or other obstacles to reading.  Libraries and books open the soul to the world, and you can help make that happen for many who need you to step forward tomorrow.


Friends of the Library – Be Among Friends

FriendsofBlind-Logo-BlueReversedOutFounded in 2005, the Friends of the Iowa Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped is an all-volunteer, nonprofit group dedicated to supporting the Library’s efforts to be the best. Through fund-raising efforts the Friends of the Library:

Support the library’s programs throughout the year.  These programs include the summer reading program for both youth and adult patrons, special presenters and literacy initiatives.

Recognize the contributions of library volunteers.  The Library would not be able to meet the needs of print-disabled Iowans without the efforts of a dedicated corps of more than 100 volunteers. These individuals transcribe books into braille, narrate audio recordings, inspect and rewind returned audiocassette books, and perform other needed to tasks to ensure that Iowa readers have access to the information they need for work, school, or personal enrichment. The Friends help the Library to recognize these contributions.

Sponsor the purchase of sacred texts for print-disabled readers throughout the state.  Readers with disabilities may contact the Library to request a personal copy of the Bible, the Koran, the Book of Mormon, or other sacred text.

Support the Iowa Braille Challenge for young Braille readers.  This academic competition tests students’ skills in reading comprehension, Braille spelling, chart and graph reading, proofreading, and Braille speed and accuracy.

Outfit the Library’s reading room.  The Friends have purchased comfortable furniture, carpeting, and lighting to create a cozy, quiet area in the library.

Purchase new technology for the library.  The Friends purchased a 3D printer and digital scanner for the library.

For more information visit the Friends of the Library website at http://www.iafriendslibraryfortheblind.org