Youth @ BTBL

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Welcome! This is a resource for youth to view news pertaining directly to them. Review book lists, read news stories, learn about scholarships, and more. 

CBS News Internship Program for College Students with Disabilities

Posted 10/09/2017

For three years, CBS News in collaboration with Lights! Camera! Access! 2.0 Initiative and DisBeat, has expanded its paid internship program to include outreach to college juniors, seniors and graduate students with disabilities for the CBS News/Lights! Camera! Access! 2.0/DisBeat Internship for Spring 2018. Recent graduates are not eligible. Applications are due by 5 pm ET on Friday, October 20, 2017. More information is available here.

Celebrate Banned Books Week

Posted 9/25/2017

Banned Books Week, September 24-30, is an annual event highlighting the value of free and open access to information. By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship. For more information, as well as ways you can participate in various events, visit the American Library Association Banned Books Week website.

Paths to Literacy Blog


Paths to Literacy maintains a blog with information for students that are blind or visually impaired. Topics range for general literacy to multiple disabilities to orientation and mobility, and more! For example, they recently posted a blog about iPads for students with CVI who are in Phase III.  You can follow the blog at Paths to Literacy Blog.

Milestone for Seedlings Braille Books for Children


Seedlings Braille Books for Children produced its 500,000th braille book for children who are blind and visually impaired on Aug. 22!  Seedlings was founded in 1984. It is dedicated to increasing the opportunity for literacy by providing high-quality braille books to children around the world. Seedlings gives half of its books away free, and the other half are sold for an average price of just $10 a book. More than 360 of the titles are available in UEB.

Order the 2018 catalog, due out in mid-September, by calling 800-777-8552 or browse the catalog online at

Eclipse Soundscapes Website


On August 21, 2017, millions of people will view a total solar eclipse as it passes through the United States. However, for the visually impaired, or others who are unable to see the eclipse with their own eyes, the Eclipse Soundscapes Project delivers a multisensory experience of this exciting celestial event. The project, from NASA’s Heliophysics Education Consortium, will include audio descriptions of the eclipse in real time, recordings of the changing environmental sounds during the eclipse, and an interactive “rumble map” app that will allow users to visualize the eclipse through touch. Visit the website for more information.

Camp Tuhsmeheta Registration Still Open!


Michigan Department of Education – Low Incidence Outreach is offering the High School Outdoor Education Workshop: Backpacking in August. This backpacking event is designed to teach basic backcountry travel and ethics. Students will learn through hands-on lessons about equipment, cooking and nutrition, maps and compasses, self-care in the woods and safety considerations. Participants will be sleeping in tents and preparing food as part of this backcountry adventure at Camp Tuhsmeheta.

Please see the attached flyer for more information. Registration is open until July 31st, and is available online at the Outdoor Education Workshop: Backpacking page of the MDE-LIO website. 

Braille Enhanced StoryWalk®


A Braille Enhanced StoryWalk® is an innovative and delightful activity that places a children's story (with braille) along a popular walking route in a community. This exciting summer program may be taking place at a public library near you! For more information, read the BTBL summer InFocus article. 

Seedlings' Book Angel Program


Every blind or visually-impaired child in the U.S. and Canada ages 0-21 is eligible to receive 3 free books a year from Seedlings, but you must re-register each year. Contact Seedlings at 800-777-8552 for more information. 

Build a Better World with the Summer Reading Program

5/1/2017, updated 5/19/2017

The Braille and Talking Book Library in collaboration with Michigan Department of Education–Low Incidence Outreach (MDE-LIO) is pleased to present the 2017 Summer Reading Program! Mark your calendars for the entire month of July. The theme is Build a Better World, and the library is offering the chance for BTBL and MDE-LIO youth 18 and under to enter two different contests:

  • Build It Your Way is a construction contest where participants will be challenged to build something (anything!) without using tape or glue.

  • Building Your Story is a reading/writing challenge.

Registration is now open! By registering early, you are guaranteed a supply kit for the Build It Your Way contest, and email updates and reminders about the program. All programming is done by mail, so you can participate wherever and whenever during the month of July. Teachers can register students and have materials sent to the school address. Participants do NOT have to have a BTBL account to participate, as long as they would qualify for BTBL or MDE-LIO service. More details on the 2 contests will be sent to everyone that registers. Email or call the library to save your spot: or 1-800-992-9012. Or print and return the registration form.


Blind baseball announcer aspires to bring sports to fans with disabilities


A recent article from the Chicago Tribune details the employment struggles and eventual big-break of Bryce Weiler, a young man who has been blind since birth, as he followed his passion into the sports business. 


AIM HIGH Act- Law Will Promote Equal Access to Higher Education for People with Disabilities


The National Federation of the Blind commends Congressman Phil Roe (R-TN) and Congressman Joe Courtney (D-CT) for introducing the Accessible Instructional Materials in Higher Education Act of 2017, also known as the AIM HIGH Act (H.R. 1772). This act will promote instructional technology and content that are accessible to the blind and other students with print disabilities. For the full NFB article about the AIM HIGH Act, visit their website.


Looking for Summer Activities? Try one of these…

4/7/2017, updated 5/4/2017

As featured in the spring In Focus, below is a list of summer camps and activities. BTBL will try to add to this list as more opportunities become available that you should know about.

  • The Braille and Talking Book Library Summer Reading Program: July 1 - July 31st. Patrons of BTBL ages 18 and under. Registration open! Call BTBL at 1-800-992-9012 or email to register today. Win prizes for participating!
  • The Michigan Department of Education - Low Incident Outreach (MDE-LIO) Essay Contest: Win FREE admission (including travel costs) to the Space Camp for Interested Visually Impaired Students held September 23-28, 2017. Grades 7-12. Essays due April 30, 2017.
  • Opportunities Unlimited for the Blind: Multiple week long camps offered during June 18 – July 13. Ages 7-19. Registration first come, first served.
  • Leader Dogs for the Blind Summer Experience Camp: June 23—June 30, 2017. Ages 16-17. Application deadline extended to April 28, 2017.]
  • National Federation of the Blind Youth Slam: July 23-29, 2017. Grades 9-12. Applications due May 7th.
  • Bureau of Services for Blind Persons Camp Transition Zone: August 15-19, 2017. Ages 14-21. Contact Julie Clark at 989-732-5814 or for more information.
  • Sports Education Camps for Students with Visual Impairments: Multiple camps offered during May 7th - May 13th. Ages 9-19. Applications due April 15th or until camp is filled., click on Sports Camp.

  • Visually Impaired Sports & Activity Day: June 10, 2017. All ages. Registration required. Contact Susan Hirt at 616-267-2045 or for more information.


BELL Summer Programs


The NFB Braille Enrichment for Literacy and Learning (BELL) Academy prepares blind and low vision children, ages four through twelve, to grow into confident and independent blind people who will live the lives they want. The program runs July 23-30, 2017 and registration is now open!


College Campus Tours


Here are two exciting opportunities for college bound students with disabilities to get a taste of college life! The first, offered through BSBP, is a tour of Western Michigan University on May 15th. Staff members will present with families the entire day for questions and conversation.  For a full schedule or to register, please contact Chris Roach at The second experience, called Project Venture, is a college transition program offered through Michigan State University. Learn more or apply at:


Apps for Students with CVI


Here are two good resources for apps for students with CVI:

Paths to Literacy: 10 tips for using iPads with students with CVI 

CVI American Printing House for the Blind: Suggested CVI apps (APH)


Advocates in Disability Award Program: Apply for up to $10,000 in Funding!


The Advocates in Disability Award (ADA) is a national awards program that seeks applications from young adults with a disability, between the ages of 14 and 26, who are dedicated to positively affecting the lives of individuals with disabilities and their families.

To apply, please see attached guidelines and application.  For more information, please go to:  Applications must be received by Wednesday, April 12, 2017 (by 5:00pm ET).


APH Insights Art Competition


The American Printing House for the Blind (APH) invites artists of all ages to submit artwork to APH InSights 2017! This art competition and exhibition is exclusively for artists who are blind and visually impaired and draws entries from across the U.S. and around the world.  You can find more information and entry forms at APH Insights Art Competition. The deadline for entry is March 24, 2017.


Free Online Library and iPad to Eligible Students Who Are Visually Impaired


This Paths to Technology post, Free OnLine Library and iPad to Eligible Students Who Are Visually Impaired  is about an exciting free literacy program that has just been announced - the program will provide Bookshare membership, Spotlight Gateway app and FREE IPAD to qualified students who are visually impaired.  Hurry - this is available for a limited time only!


Kids' Books Recognized for Disability Storylines


Disability Scoop recently published an article highlighting three books that have recently been recognized for featuring characters with disabilities. Read the full article on their website. The books highlighted were:

1. Six Dots by Jen Bryant (DB86519, BR21722)

2. As Brave As You by Jason Reynolds (DB84720, BR21728)

3. When We Collided by Emery Lord (BR21729)

Patrons of BTBL can order these titles by calling the library at 1-800-992-9012 and providing the book numbers (listed next to the titles/authors above).


Space Camp for Interested Visually Impaired Students (SCIVIS)


Space Camp for kids grades 4-12 is coming this September at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, AL.  Attend sessions on Astronaut Training, Aviation Challenge, and Robotics! For more information on attending, including scholarships and tuition, visit http://www.scivis.orgIn addition, the Michigan Department of Education - Low Incident Outreach (MDE-LIO) will have an essay contest to give away two all-expense paid trips! More information on that will be available on their website this spring.


Registration Now Open for OUB Camps


Opportunities Unlimited for the Blind is offering multiple summer camps for kids in 2017 including, Service Leadership, Cookin’ and Jammin’ Camp, Elementary Camp, and the OUB Adventure Trip to Indiana and Kentucky.  Registration is only $25 per family – there are no other fees to attend! For more information visit

NFB Youth Slam


One hundred blind and low vision students from across the country will be selected to attend this weeklong adventure at Towson University in Maryland from July 23 to 29, 2017. The National Federation for the Blind (NFB) Youth Slam will engage, inspire, and encourage you-the next generation of blind scientists, engineers, programmers, and mathematicians-to consider STEM careers. Students who are US citizens and currently in grades 9-12 are invited to apply by May 7, 2017. For more information about the NFB Youth Slam, please visit If you have additional questions, contact NFB at 410-659-9314, extension 2418, or email

Braille Letters to Santa!


The National Federation of the Blind is partnering with Santa to promote braille literacy! Between November 14 and December 16, parents of children under the age of ten can visit and fill out a Santa Braille Letter request form. The form can also be printed and faxed to 410-685-2340. Beginning November 28, the Braille letters from Santa will start going out to blind boys and girls across the country. The Braille letter will also be accompanied by a print copy for mom and dad to read and some other fun Christmastime activities.

Seedlings Braille Books for Children


Thanks to the Detroit Free Press, every visually-impaired child in Michigan can get 1 free book (braille or print-and-braille) from Seedlings for the holidays! Register online or by calling 800-777-8552. You must register by 11/22/2016!

Attention College Bound High Schoolers


In October 2016, The Light House Guild introduced a free telephone support group for college bound high school juniors and seniors from around the country who are blind and visually impaired. There is still time to join!  You will have the opportunity to talk about common social, emotional, academic, and practical concerns connected with being at college and having a vision impairment.

Groups will be led by Daria Zawadzki, JD, LMSW, a licensed social worker. Groups meet on a weekly basis by phone, for 60 to 90 minutes. The groups will run from October 2016 to June 2017. Groups will be small and everyone will have the opportunity to take part. For more information visit or call 800-562-6265.

Letters About Literature


The Library of Michigan is announcing the 2017 Letters About Literature program. This national program through the Library of Congress is a reading-writing contest that invites readers in grades 4 through 12 to write letters to authors of books that have changed their lives. Letters from students in grades 9-12 have a deadline of December 2, 2016, and students in grades 4-8 have a deadline of January 9, 2017. You can find more information at

Tips for Writing Term Papers


The American Federation for the Blind (AFB) recently published an article on writing term papers for high school and college students that are blind. Read the article, written by JJ Meddaugh in July of 2016.

Summer Reading Comes to an End

Posted 8/18/2016

Summer Reading 2016 officially ends tomorrow, August 19th.  Winners for the challenges will be announced in the Fall newsletter. Thank you to everyone that participated, and we hope you had fun!

Mancala Game Activity

Final Mailing - Thank you!

Win BIG with Summer Reading!

Posted 8/8/2016

The third summer reading packets were sent out and you can expect Olympic-sized fun to be included! Don't forget that you can return multiple Bingo Reading Challenge cards for more chances to enter to win a $25 gift card! Also, don't forget about the Summer Reading Event on August 18th from 1-3 in the BTBL Lobby. RSVP to save a seat!

Olympic Athlete Activity

Bingo Reading Challenge

Just Keep Reading!

Posted 7/22/2016

The second summer reading packets were mailed out to everyone this morning!! There will be a couple of surprises inside so keep an eye on the mailbox! Included in the packet will be a Kids' Yoga Pose activity for participants to try out at home. Remember, this year summer reading is all about wellness and fitness so try something new and get active! Included below are also the links to websites that have other book programs going on right now. Visit those links for more information. On Your Mark, Get Set, READ!

Yoga Pose Activity Sheet

Michigan Department of Education- Low Incidence Outreach

Seedlings Book Angel Program

Let Summer Reading Begin!

Posted 7/8/2016

Starting Monday, July 11th, BTBL Summer Reading officially begins! All participants signed up for the program will receive their first packet in the mail next week. This will have instructions on the challenges and a few prizes to keep! All the information sent in the mail is also available below for those that prefer electronic format. If you prefer braille, please call or email the Youth Librarian.

On Your Mark, Get Set, READ!

Welcome Letter - Week 1

Pedometer Challenge Instructions

Bingo Reading Challenge

Bingo Reading Book Suggestions

On Your Mark, Get Set, Read! - BTBL Summer Reading ProgramVarious sports equipment and three books in a pile.

Posted 5/3/2016, Updated 5/27/2016

Registration is now open for the BTBL 2016 Summer Reading Program. The theme this year is Wellness, Fitness, Sports. The program runs from July 11- August 19 and is open to patrons 0-18 years old. As always, the program is done completely through the mail so kids all across Michigan can participate. Contact Youth Librarian, Stephanie Wambaugh, at 800-992-9012 or to register today!

Also, please save the date for our first ever Summer Reading Event to be held on Thursday, August 18th, 2016 from 1-3pm in the BTBL lobby. Patrons of all ages are welcomed to bring family and friends to this Sports themed event! More details to follow.

Seedlings Super Spring Giveaway

Posted 5/27/2016

Seedlings Braille Books for Children is offering a Super Spring Giveaway program through June 7! Buy two or more books and get one book - any book of your choice - for free! For details on how to order your free book, go to

VI Sports Day

Posted 5/3/2016

16th Annual Visually Impaired Sports Day will be held on June 11, 2016 at Wealthy Elementary School, 1961 Lake Drive in East Grand Rapids from 8:30 to 2 PM.  To register online, go to For more information, contact Dr. Droste at or call 616-957-0866.

FREE Seedlings Braille Books for Teachers

Posted 4/18/2016

Seedlings Braille Books for Children is offering $100 worth of free books to each of 100 Certified Teachers of Students with Visual Impairments in Michigan thanks to a grant from the Michigan Braille Transcribing Fund!  April 30 is the deadline for all orders. Order online at or call 800-777-8552. Use APR16 as your Purchase Order number and you will not be charged for these free books.

Transitional Age Youth Programs

Posted 4/18/2016

World Services for the Blind continues to expand its services to include young people who are blind or visually impaired. Current programs include College Prep, ACT Prep and the Essential Workplace Skills Series. For more information or to begin the application process, please contact Rebecca Reid, director of recruiting and retention, at or call 800-248-0734.

Paths to Technology

Posted 3/31/2016

Perkins School for the Blind announced the Paths to Technology website designed to assist educators and families in learning and staying current on ever-changing technology for students with visual impairments and blindness. This website has a student page where kids can get involved. Join the conversation by visiting the website!

SENSEsational Alphabet book available through Seedlings!

Posted 3/31/2016

These interactive ABC picture books allow blind and sighted family members to learn the alphabet and beginning words in sign language and uncontracted braille together! The book incorporates visual stimuli, movement, touch, smell and sound. To order a book or check out other promotions through Seedlings, visit their website at

Resources for College Bound Students

Posted 2/9/2016, updated 3/4/2016

Helpful resources for soon-to-be college students:

Americans with Disabilities Act

National Federation of the Blind

Organizations with Scholarship Opportunities:

American Council of the Blind (ACB) 
American Foundation for the Blind 
Learning Ally
Lighthouse Guild
National Federation of the Blind

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