We are very grateful that Governor Reynolds has included the below appropriation request in her SFY23 Budget. For more information, please contact Director Emily Wharton at emily.wharton@blind.state.ia.us.

For a printable PDF version of this document, click here to download Ask 23 v2.pdf.

To read a collection of recent success stories, visit our success stories page.


Appropriation Request Figures At A Glance

Category Amount
SFY22 Appropriation $2,780,724
Total Requested Increase $112,779
Total Requested SFY23 General Fund Appropriation $2,893,503
Requested One-Time Capitol Improvement Funding $196,900
SFY22 FTE Allotment 87.83
Requested FTE Allotment 87.83

Appropriation Request Overview

Over the past five years, IDB has undertaken an organizational transformation. We have automated tasks, leveraged technology to improve efficiency, and re-distributed our greatest asset – our highly trained and skilled staff. We have deliberately re-organized – moved positions to areas of greatest need to provide the most impact for those we serve. We have reduced our administration and put more blindness professionals into the field across the state. On the micro level, we have taken care to discover where people’s greatest skills and talents were being underutilized and we helped them to move them to positions where they can thrive. We have recruited talented professionals from across the country because they believe in our mission and share our values. We have found Iowans with a passion for teaching and a drive to make the world a better place and we have invested thousands of hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars in training these individuals in structured discovery methodology, library best practices, professional communication, and leadership. This considerable investment of time and money is paying off on more and better services being delivered to blind Iowans which is in turn paying off in more and better outcomes for those we serve.

It is important that we protect this investment in our human capital by ensuring that those who meet and exceed our high expectations receive merit based increases. To this end, we anticipate an increase in payroll costs of $302,979.22. Based on our effective non-Federal share across all programs, we need an increase in our state appropriation of $64,535 to cover this cost. In order to cover the anticipated 5% increase in the costs of goods and services, we need an additional state share of $48,244. This brings our total appropriation increase requested to $112,779.

Capitol Request

We are requesting a capital appropriation of $196,900 to cover several large long-term maintenance expenses. We are asking for $94,200 to replace our south roof. The age of this roof is such that it has begun to leak and these repairs to our south roof will eliminate leaks that have appeared in various parts of the building in recent years during and after heavy rains. While leaks generally cause many problems to ceilings and equipment, leaks in our braille collection stacks would result in damage to our nationally recognized braille collection.

We are asking for $25,000 to repair cement block walls. There are several cement block walls on upper floors that need tuck pointing to prevent bricks from coming loose and falling. There are also an increasing number of areas on the 5th and 6th floors where tuck pointing is needed to prevent face brick and cornices from falling.

We are also asking for $77,700 to modernize and keep current our Johnson controls environmental controls system. Some of the older components are needing replaced to ensure software and hardware compatibility as well as improve the non-visual accessibility of the control system. It is important to our agency that we have infrastructure systems that are non-visually accessible so that blind staff are able to do their jobs as efficiently as their sighted colleagues. Because it is our mission to share with employers how blind people can and do work in all different types of jobs, we employ blind people in all areas of our agency. We have blind IT and maintenance staff who need to access the Johnson Controls system. Because newer versions of the software are easier to make accessible, keeping our Johnson Controls system up to date is both good for the environmental consistency of the building and crucial to making sure our staff can do their jobs.

Recent Highlights

  • Our average hourly wage at closure increased from $15.41 in SFY20 to $21.25 in SFY21/
  • The Iowa Library for the Blind and Print Disabled ( a division of the Iowa Department for the Blind) was awarded Library of the Year by the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled ( a division of the Library of Congress) for their outstanding work in keeping library services going and adding new services throughout the pandemic. Our library never missed a day of getting books to patrons or accessible educational materials to preK–12 students across the state.
  • Our Young Adult Transition Program (YATP) – our 4+ Program designed to help blind students complete their iEP goals in the areas of living, learning, and working – has started it’s second school year. It successfully completed the entire 20–21 school year in person.
  • Our instructors and counselors understand that certain blindness skills cannot be taught virtually and demonstrated remarkable dedication and innovation in making in person instruction happen when other agencies or states could not.
    Our staff returned to our building on June 8, 2020 and we have operated continuously and successfully without any COVID outbreaks.
  • Our Youth Library was completed on October 6th. We have been partnering with the Governor’s STEM Council to make their scale ups accessible for blind students for several years. We have partnered with the AEAs to offer our para-professional training online to those teachers and paras working with blind and low vision students across the state.

Key Facts

  • For every $21.30 that we receive in-state appropriation, we are able to pull down $78.70 from the federal government to provide Vocational Rehabilitation services to blind Iowans.
  • Over the past two years, IDB has invested $1.5 million dollars in modernizing equipment for Business Enterprise Program participants.

Funding Breakdown at a Glance

ASK23 IDB Funding Pie Chart

Vocational Rehabilitation Services Statistics

While IDB’s case closure numbers decrease dramatically due to the implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act in SFY18 (PY17), , this is a national trend. However, , we have been dramatically increasing the number of core services provided and the number of clients receiving these core services. Core services include: counseling and guidance, job readiness training, disability related skills training, and rehabilitation technology. Core skills also includes pre-employment transition services such as work-based learning experiences, counseling on post-secondary enrollment opportunities, workplace readiness training, job exploration and counseling, and instruction in self-advocacy. While we know that it will take time, this increased service provision is improving quantity and quality of our employment outcomes as well as reducing the number of clients returning to re-open a case after failing to thrive in the world of work.

Top Ten Earning Job Titles for SFY21 (PY20)

Occupation Title Hourly Wage
Mental Health Counselor $97.13
Lawyer $64.10
Workers Compensation Benefits Manager $51.93
Electrical Engineer $40.70
Social and Community Service Manager $33.65
Operations Manager $30.75
Teachers and Instructors, All Other $29.80
Automotive Masters Mechanics $29.00
Deaf-Blind Specialist $27.49
Vocational Rehabilitation Teacher $24.38

Number of Clients Exiting in Employment, Average Hourly Wage, and Hours Worked

Ask23 Hourly Wage Chart


SFY Clients Exiting in Employment
SFY Number of Clients Exiting in Employment Average Hourly Wage at Exit Average Hours Worked Per Week
SFY18 (PY17) 27 $15.72 28
SFY19 (PY18) 34 $15.12 29
SF20 (PY19) 28 $15.41 31
SFY21 (PY20) 40 $21.25 34


VR Core Services Provided By Year

SFY Number of Clients Receiving Core Services Total Core Services Provided Total VR Services Provided
SFY15 137 1931 3278
SFY16 186 2584 4210
SFY17 215 2759 4688
SFY18 275 2707 4930
SFY19 321 3816 6151
SFY20 396 6429 8240
SFY21 374 6033 7797

Independent Living Program Statistics

Decreasing Federal Support For Independent Living Services for Older Individuals Losing Vision

No matter how much state or non-federal dollars we provide, the amount of federal support we can receive for Independent Living Services to older individuals is limited. The last increase was in FFY14. After FFY14 it decreased and remained the same from FFY15 to FFY17. It has decreased every year since FFY17. The OIB grant award by Federal Fiscal Year is as follows:


Federal Older Blind Grant Amount showing decrease every year since FFY17
Federal Year Grant Amount
FFY13 $315,669
FFY14 $325,101
FFY15 $315,736
FFY16 $315,736
FFY17 $315,736
FFY18 $312,867
FFY19 $306,242
FFY20 $304,614
FFY21 $303,432


Independent Living Services Provided

Average Days to First Independent Living Service




Average Days to IL Training Completion


  SFY17 SFY18 SFY19 SFY20 SFY21
Clients Served 443 397 426 413 335
Service Units Provided 7685 7200 10123 10544 9458
Services Per Client 17.35 18.14 23.76 25.53 28.23
Average days to Service 51 59 31 31 21
Average days to Completion 408 377 297 223 194
Objectives Met 386 1002 1236 348 342
Objectives Not Met 91 132 103 53 49

Library Statistics


Active Patrons: 5,727
Circulation of Books, Digital Players and eReaders: 466,057
BARD Digital Book Downloads : 53,629
Total Circulation Library Collection and BARD: 519,686

Books for Kids Program

Participants: 171
Books Circulated through the Program: 3,611


Online Listeners: 7,963
Sent out on Cartridge: 2,877
Total Listeners: 9,113

Instructional Materials Center (IMC) Statistics

Orders Processed 7/1/2020 through 6/30/2021: 2689 items

Total Materials Processed for 2021/2022 School Year: 538 items
From Library Collection: 11%
New transcriptions by a contractor or vendor: 42%
Transcribed by IMC Staff: 32%
Purchased from a vendor that had already produced the book: 15%
We provide 43% of the requested materials from the library collection or produced by IMC Staff

Total Materials Processed for 2020/2021 School Year: 2151 items
From Library Collection: 14%
New transcriptions by a contractor or vendor: 19%
Transcribed by IMC Staff: 26%
Purchased from a vendor that had already produced the book: 41%
We provide 40% of the requested materials from the library collection or produced by IMC Staff

For More Information

To learn more about IDB programs and services visit our website: https://blind.iowa.gov
Follow us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/IowaBlind
Visit our YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/IDBonline
To apply for vocational rehabilitation or independent living services: Complete our referral form
or call (515) 901–8621
To apply for library services, call 515–281–1323
For more information about library services, visit these links:
Iowa Library for the Blind and Print Disabled Blog: https://iowalibrary.blog/
Instructional Materials Center Blog: https://idbimclibrary.blog/