Labor and Economic Opportunity
Bureau of Services for Blind Persons highlights various braille services and resources during Braille Literacy Month
January 19, 2021
Contact: Mike Murray, 517-275-1820
LANSING, Mich.—January has been proclaimed as Braille Literacy Month by Governor Gretchen Whitmer to recognize the impact this reading system has on individuals who are blind or visually impaired, and call attention to the invaluable services and resources in Michigan that enable residents to learn and enhance their braille skills.
Braille, created by Louis Braille in 1824, enables individuals to read with their fingertips using a system of six raised dots. It also helps individuals who are blind or visually impaired in the workplace and the classroom and assists with helping them learn about grammar, spelling and punctuation. The Bureau of Services for Blind Persons (BSBP), within the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity’s Office of Employment and Training, facilitates various braille services and resources in the state.
The BSBP Training Center, located in Kalamazoo, offers courses on Braille that are designed to prepare students with the fundamentals of this reading system, including identifying the braille alphabet, braille numbers, common punctuation and reading comprehension. Although the BSBP Training Center is presently closed to in-person learning due to COVID-19, they are still offering courses and training via a virtual platform.
Michigan’s Braille and Talking Book Library offers braille and audio books to individuals who are unable to use standard print materials. A part of the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled, the Braille and Talking Book Library and its network of Advisory and Outreach Centers is able to serve people with visual and physical disabilities by offering access to more than 23,000 braille and 100,000 audio book titles. Materials and equipment are provided free of charge and delivered through the U.S. Postal Service, or books can also be downloaded directly with the free BARD Mobile App. In Fiscal Year 2020, the library distributed more than 868,000 materials to its patrons.
“The Bureau of Services for Blind Persons is here to assist blind or visually impaired individuals achieve employment and independence through a variety of customized solutions,” said BSBP Director William Robinson. “If you, or someone you know, may benefit from our services – whether that be using our Training Center or becoming a patron of the Braille and Talking Book Library, we encourage you to reach out so we may assess your needs and help you set tangible goals.”
The Vocational Rehabilitation and Independent Living programs described in this press release are funded 78.7% through a VR grant from the U.S. Department of Education and 21.3% through State funding. Total Federal funding for Federal Fiscal Year 2020 was approximately $19,170,588.00. The Pre-Employment Transition Services provided under the Vocational Rehabilitation program are funded 100 percent through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education. For federal fiscal year 2020, the total amount of grant funds used exceeded $2 million.