Primary Tasks

    Secondary Tasks

      Our main door is unlocked and front desk is staffed Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. If you are needing assistance with entry to the building between 8:00 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. or 2:00 p.m. - 4:30 p.m., please call 515-281-1333.

      New Stories

      Self-Week March 2023

      From: Ross Pollpeter – Vocational Rehabilitation Teacher

      Eight clients from across Iowa, literally from river to river, came to Des Moines for honestly their introduction to braille, cane travel, home management, and/or assistive technology. Most clients have been working with a VR Teacher but have yet only focused on one skill area. Only one client had returned for her second Self Week, and that student had specific goals they wanted to tackle, specifically doing cane travel during a snow storm. So, fortunately for her, Iowa weather provided that opportunity. One of the greatest things that this particular group gained during the week was developing a network of blind people to socialize and bond with. The energy and camaraderie was palpable. SELF Week can be exhausting for both clients and staff, but the end results are worth the effort. Most clients would say they go home worn out but gained so much in exchange. For activities, clients enjoyed dinner out in downtown Des Moines, an evening with Center clients, and one night of bowling at Merle Hay Mall.

      STEM Themed Youth Weekend Retreat

      A big thanks to Vocational Rehabilitation Teacher, Ross Pollpeter,  for providing this creative recap of the February 24-26 youth weekend retreat. This retreat was held during the 2023 Braille Challenge and the students attended the STEMfest we held in conjunction with the Governor's STEM council on February 25th. 

      Last weekend 12 students arrived, across Iowa they're from,

      Engineers or scientists perhaps one day they become.

      All excited, energetic, eager to explore,

      Projects and activities planned, students asking for more,

      Designed landing craft for their egg astronauts, dropped them from the stairwell,

      Only one survived, 4th floor was the final farewell.

      Engineered mousetraps, spoons, craft sticks and tape into catapults,

      Shot ping pong balls at Helen and her castle with hilarious results.

      Some students challenged their knowledge of braille,

      Testing their skills, reading and writing. They could not fail.

      Each took turns overseeing a table at the annual STEM Fest,

      Making beach balls float, "Wingardium leviosa.”  Their project was one of the best.

      Fantastic movie night, Gravity had students on the edge of each seat, tense with fear.

      Explained science, effects of zero gravity, momentum, mass and weight, reentry into atmosphere.

      Students seemed to have much fun with our Science & Engineering theme,

      Two months later in April, they return to do the adventure again at Ogden Iowa’s Sunstream. 


      IDB Announces the 2023 Elizabeth Perowsky Volunteer Award Recipient

      Our Elizabeth Perowsky Memorial Volunteer of the Year Award is given in honor of Elizabeth Perowsky of Des Moines, Iowa, who was a volunteer Braille transcriber for more than 60 years. She taught herself to Braille and was certified in literary, Nemeth, and music Braille by the Library of Congress. Elizabeth was the group leader and main teacher for the Temple Sisterhood Braille Group. She also conducted Braille workshops throughout the country, teaching others how to Braille. Near the end of her life, Elizabeth’s hands were so impacted by arthritis that she would tell her assistant which keys to press on the computer keyboard to form the Braille letters. This allowed her to continue Brailling when she could no longer type. Elizabeth was still Brailling within a few weeks of her death at the age of 97 in May 1996.

      The text on the Elizabeth Perowsky Memorial Volunteer Award states: "For extraordinary spirit and inexhaustible dedication in volunteer service to those who are blind" is one of the best ways to describe this year's recipient.

      It is our honor to present the Elizabeth Perowsky Memorial Award to Sandi Ryan. Sandi has shown inexhaustible dedication in volunteer service to those who are blind in so many ways. Her true dedication has shown through in her many volunteer roles. These have included advocacy, mentoring, braille proofreading and public service as a four-term member and Chair of the Iowa Commission for the Blind. “We are thankful for Sandi’s constant support of the library. Her passion for braille and braille literacy especially for our youngest patrons is infectious. Sandi exemplifies exactly what this award stands for,” said Library Director, Sarah Willeford.

      Her work as Chair of the Iowa Commission for the Blind has helped the Iowa department for the Blind to continue to innovate and expand services to blind Iowans of all ages. Sandi's amazing attitude, words of wisdom and sense of humor have impacted so many. IDB Director, Emily Wharton, stated: "Whenever I needed anything, someone to look over a draft policy, someone to talk through a challenging decision, someone to make me laugh instead of cry at one of the many absurdities that arise when trying to make change within the state bureaucracy, Sandi was there with ideas, honest feedback, understanding, and a swift kick when I needed it. She has been an invaluable mentor and so much of the success we have achieved is at least in part due to her work on behalf of blind Iowans."

      “Sandi completed all of the lessons in the Instruction Manual for Braille Transcribing from the National Library Service, which is quite an accomplishment! Sandi proofread and made corrections on collection books done on a Perkins by one of our volunteer braillists. We could always count on Sandi to take on proofreading projects and help with scorekeeping for the Braille Challenge. Sandi’s work was always accurate & detailed,” shared Karen Cunningham, IMC Librarian, and Roxanne Book, Braille Coordinator.

      Youth Librarian, Denise Bean expressed, "Sandi's warmth and love for others is simply undeniable. Sandi lives her life with a clear vision and intention to make this world a better place, if only more in the world could be like her, if so, our world would be a better place. She would share countless stories of her family that would bring laughter and even a tear to a room. Thank you, Sandi, for being a rock to so many around you. You have taught all of us to stay strong, stay determined, and most importantly, stay passionate in what you believe in."

      Normally this award would be awarded during the library's annual Elizabeth Perowsky Workshop and Luncheon in April. However, after a year-long battle with liver cancer, Sandi has entered hospice care. We determined it would be wise to present her with the award early. However, we also look forward to celebrating again in April at the Elizabeth Perowsky Workshop and Luncheon.

      Please help us in congratulating Sandi Ryan for her many years of impactful volunteer service to the Iowa Department for the Blind. She has made a difference in the life of countless blind Iowans. Her work will go on and her work will be picked up and carried forward by other passionate and hard-working volunteers and advocates.