Licensing and Regulatory Affairs
Celebrating statewide reading resources for Michigan’s blind and visually impaired
Media Contact: LARA Communications 517-373-9280
June 13, 2017 - So that all may read, Gov. Rick Snyder today proclaimed Michigan Braille and Talking Book Libraries Awareness Day to draw attention to the latest accessible technologies available to Michigan residents who have experienced vision impairment or loss. The Michigan Bureau of Services for Blind Persons’ (BSBP) Braille and Talking Book Library (BTBL), along with 11 Michigan Regional Talking Book Libraries located throughout the state provide reading resources to residents with vision loss in all of the state’s 83 counties.
“We want to ensure that residents who are unable to use standard print materials have easy access to the library’s comprehensive resources so that all may read,” said BSBP Director Bill Robinson. “Our library’s dedication to service excellence and commitment is focused on serving more people in the years to come.”
The BTBL is one of 56 regional libraries in the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) nationwide network. This Library of Congress' Talking Book and Braille Program is a free service that has provided reading materials in audio and braille formats for blind and visually impaired individuals for 86 years.
In Michigan, the BTBL loans books and magazines in braille and audio formats free of charge to those who qualify and serves more than 11,000 patrons annually. More than 556,500 braille and talking books were circulated in 2016, averaging 2,100 – 2,200 per day. There are 30,085 titles available in audio format and 10,275 titles available in braille. These include popular fiction and nonfiction, best sellers, how-to books, and talking book versions of magazines and foreign language materials. Books are available by digital download or by USPS Free Matter mailing, without shipping charges. Patrons can call toll-free to consult with library reader advisors to request titles in the format best suited to their needs. The BTBL is located on the first floor of the Michigan Library and Historical Center in downtown Lansing.
Today, the BTBL hosted its biennial Libraries Without Walls Conference to showcase the latest in adaptive technology for the blind. Librarians, educators and patrons from around the state gathered to learn more about adaptive technology in the workplace utilizing cloud computing.
Earlier this month, the Ann Arbor District Library within the NLS network hosted the 2017 Northern and Midlands Regional Conference of Librarians Serving the Blind and Physically Handicapped that began with a tour of the BTBL for NLS representatives from Washington D.C. and librarians from several states.
Constant innovation to better serve patrons has been key to the success of the BTBL. “You Say it How in Michigan?,” a unique and comprehensive online directory that the BTBL developed primarily to benefit audio book production for the blind and visually impaired, was unveiled earlier this year. Robinson said that the site actually benefits anyone who wants to know the correct pronunciation of Michigan’s many unique cities and places to experience Pure Michigan. In 2015, the BTBL won the prestigious Network Library of the Year Award from the NLS; recognized as #1 in the country for its excellence, innovation and special achievement in providing library service to individuals who are blind or have a physical disability.
The Bureau of Services for Blind Persons provides training and other services for individuals who are blind or visually impaired to achieve employment and/or independence in the careers of their choice. For more information about BSBP visit www.michigan.gov/bsbp or call toll-free: 800-292-4200, TTY 888-864-1212. For more information about or to apply for BTBL resources, call toll-free 800-992-9012 or visit www.michigan.gov/btbl.
For more information about LARA, please visit www.michigan.gov/lara
Follow us on Twitter www.twitter.com/michiganLARA