Kingman library opens visually impaired center
KINGMAN - Kelly Moore has found a way to share the enjoyment of reading with Mohave County's sight impaired children. Moore is the youth services library assistant at the Kingman Branch of the Mohave County Library and recently opened a new center for visually impaired children at the branch, the first of its kind in Mohave County.
Moore said she got the idea after watching a young man who was blind visit the library on a regular basis with his special-needs adult class.
"The students would come to the library and he would just sit there with nothing to do," she said. "It broke my heart."
That young man's caregiver submitted a comment card asking for books in Braille. That card "is what started this project," Moore said. "I did some research and found that 26 local families are registered as having vision-impaired youths with the Arizona State School for the Deaf and Blind. I wondered how many there are in our communities who are not registered."
Moore took a six-month, online, grant-writing class at the library. She then applied for a grant for the Visually Impaired Center through the Arizona State Library and received $12,435 from ASL to put the center together.
She started by clearing out a storage room that was once used to house the story-time reading group for children.
Then she recruited a talented team of young artists from the Kingman Academy of Learning High School to create a mural for the room. The students, Rodolfo Martin, Tianna Hill, Kayla Martin, Samantha Rezzetti, Zak Railey, Katie Poe and Sam Walker, and their teacher, Donna McCarthy, came up with the idea of creating a three-dimensional dragon named Reggie. It took them two and a half months to finish the mural, which is sealed to allow children to pet Reggie's scales and touch his tongue.
"They came in every day after school and worked on the project," Moore said. "It's an amazing mural."
While the students were working on the mural, Moore started purchasing books, starting with board books for babies and moving on up to books popular with today's teens.
"A lot of them are textile - sensory books where the children can touch and feel. Most of them are in Braille and have printed words so they can be read by parents who are not sight-impaired and also by those who are. I have picture books, easy readers. Some are in just Braille and others are both so they can be read by a sighted person and a blind child side-by-side," she said. "We have a collection of juvenile fiction and non-fiction in Braille. I tried to select the same titles that are popular with sighted children. Some of our Braille books are being delivered by the Bookmobile, as well, upon request."
The center also has learning aids for blind and visually impaired children such as blocks, flash cards, letters and more.
Moore recruited another student - Harmony, who has been blind since she was 2 - to help her with picking out the best technology for visually impaired children.
"We have a new technology for teens," Moore said. "They are called Play-Aways. They are audio books that are MP3 players, about three inches long. There are no discs or cassettes. All the student has to do is plug in his or her headphones."
The library also has regular audio books available to all ages.
The library also has two book reader machines that are available for use by adults and youths. One reader "will actually read the book in either English or Spanish to a patron," Moore said. "That one was donated by the Kingman Mohave Lions Club, which is one of our partners with the library Center. The other one magnifies images for reading. It was donated in 'Memory of Jennifer Rae Robinson.'"