My KDL Story: Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped

"Many of our patrons are avid readers. To have this service available is a continuation of their quality of life..."

Amanda Markham

On a recent spring afternoon, Amanda Markham settled into a comfy chair in front of the water fountain at KDL's Wyoming Branch. She wiggled out of her winter jacket, pulled out her iPhone and clicked through the steps to downloading an audiobook through KDL's Braille and Audio Reading Download mobile app.

The Grand Rapids woman, who is blind, has been using the services of KDL's Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped since middle school.

"I used to get them as cassette tapes in the mail, and the first books I got were those that were read to me as a child, like the American Girls series," she recalled. "It was just so amazing to me that I could actually read them and not have them read to me. Now I read, on average, about four books a week."

Kent District Library's Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, established in 1973, is one of 11 sub-regional LBPH libraries in Michigan and is part of the National Library Service Network. It serves residents of Kent, Montcalm and Ionia counties, providing books, magazines, videos, newspaper-reading services, DVDs in alternative formats (recorded cassette, braille and descriptive videos) and downloadable materials.

Anyone with a physical or visual disability that makes reading difficult qualifies, including those with organic reading impairments such as dyslexia.

"Many of our patrons are avid readers," said LBPH Librarian Michelle Roossien. "To have this service available is a continuation of their quality of life."

Casey DutmerCasey Dutmer agrees.

"For those who qualify for this service, LBPH is one of the ways for us to be in the world," he said.

Dutmer has been an LBPH patron since the early 1960s. He reads "a little bit of everything," he said, including Sports Illustrated magazine, the New York Times, Christian fiction and nonfiction and history books.

The Grandville retiree most often downloads files he can read on a piece of equipment he owns called a Braille Sense, which translates the file to a refreshable Braille display. He also listens to audio and talking books, but "Braille is our print," he said, "and when I want to really study something, I have to have it in Braille."

Materials for loan through LBPH are shipped free directly to the patron's home and are mailed back for free. KDL's LBPH location is the Wyoming Branch, 3350 Michael SW, Wyoming, Michigan 49509, and patrons can visit any of KDL's 18 branches throughout Kent County to get a demonstration of the digital talking book player available for loan. The Wyoming Branch also houses an adaptive technology room with equipment available for use.


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