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      IDB Introduces New Building Access Design

      Deb Wade and Rachel Bussan smile as they work the Library's new information desk inside IDB's north entrance.If you have walked into the Iowa Department for the Blind (IDB) building recently you may have noticed that some changes are afoot. An inviting corner for Library users and visitors has been created in a re-purposed portion of the first floor employee break room/cafeteria, just inside the north door/accessible entrance. A comfortable sofa, book shelves that beckon to be explored, and some unique children’s activities are available to enjoy. Two helpful staff from the library are stationed nearby at the newly created information desk area, ready to greet visitors and assist Iowa Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped patrons with information and circulation needs. Library patrons are now able to refill cartridges, drop off books, and use other library services more quickly. A convenient accessible iPad mounted on a stand replaces the loose leaf binder sign-in book. The west side of the cafeteria has been rearranged in proximity to the vending machines with enough space for the usual number of people using it during breaks and lunch. It’s all part of a “one point of service” concept and design that Library and other IDB staff are presenting on a trial basis.

      Randolph Anderson with his service dog, Talbot, smiles while using  the computer by the Library's new information desk.Born of a desire to bring the Library front desk closer to patrons, the need for more efficient use of staff, and improve building security, this new public interface is being tried out in a no-cost pilot effort.

      A significant change to entering the IDB building will begin its trial on Tuesday, November 1, 2016 when the 4th Street doors will no longer be used as a visitor entrance and will remain locked during the day. Though the door will remain available to staff and Orientation Center students using their key card, visitors will be redirected to enter the building through the north door on Watson Powell, Jr. Way. This newly designated main entrance is served by the wheelchair accessible ramp and has proven to be the entrance most visitors currently use. It will be unlocked at 8:00 a.m. as always for public access. Print and braille signage at the east door to redirect visitors to the north door and a temporary doorbell that will ring at the switchboard are designed to help with this transition.

      The switchboard desk will remain where it is in the main lobby by the elevators and will allow the person staffing that desk to focus on answering and directing phone inquiries.

      The comfy sofa in the Library lounge area provides a quiet corner for visitor Charles Young to browse the titles available on the bookshelf in the new area.“The library and maintenance staff have worked hard to create a welcoming space that will help our entire agency to build community and provide better service to clients and patrons,” Department director Emily Wharton commented. “We are hopeful that this will be a stepping stone that will allow us to provide more services in a more cost effective manner. We have already been getting great ideas and suggestions.”

      These changes are considered implemented on a trial basis to see if the desired results of ease of access to the Iowa Department for the Blind building, improved customer service to the public, and visitor and employee safety may be efficiently realized. Feedback from the public is welcome and you may direct your comments to Rick Dressler at or 515-281-1314.

      Emily Wharton Selected as Director of the Iowa Department for the Blind

      Emily Wharton walks with a long, white cane by the front entrance to the Iowa Department for the Blind.The Iowa Commission for the Blind has chosen Emily Wharton to serve as Director of the Iowa Department for the Blind. Wharton had been serving as the agency's Technology Director since 2013.

      “Emily Wharton brings three key qualities to the position of Iowa Department for the Blind director,” said Peggy Elliott of Grinnell, chair of the three-member Iowa Commission for the Blind, appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Iowa Senate to set policy for the state agency. Read more...

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