Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Upcoming Event: FREE Teleconferences!

Free Teleconferences Focus on Healthy Living and Financial Literacy

Contributed by Ashley Biggs, Marketing & Outreach Librarian 

Man sitting on bench listing to phone; teleconference series, partnered with UME

The Maryland State Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (LBPH) and the University of Maryland Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences department are pleased to announce that they will jointly host a yearlong teleconference initiative focused on healthy living and financial literacy.

The Family and Consumer Sciences division of the University of Maryland Extension Office focuses on strengthening families, communities, and the economy by focusing on the importance of food, agriculture, health, and financial education.

Examples of upcoming teleconferences include, but are not limited to:
  • Intuitive Eating: A Non-Diet Approach to Health
  • Cancer Prevention through Nutrition
  • Vitamin D: What You Need to Know
  • Superfoods for the Brain
  • Understanding Your Financial Health

These programs are free and open to the public; however, registration is required. The teleconference number, event materials, and other items will be sent to the email address used at the time of registration. 

Visit http://bit.ly/LBPHTelCon for more information. 

The first of these events is:

Intuitive Eating: A Non-Diet Approach to Health

January 8, 2020, at 6:30 PM; 

Each New Year, we tend to make a renewed commitment to diet and exercise. We hit the gym every day...until we miss one afternoon...and then another...and then another. We deprive ourselves of our favorite foods only to be invited to a holiday party where resisting temptation is nearly impossible... Join Erin Jewell as she introduces a new approach to your health that focuses less on militant diet and exercise and more on actively connecting with your body. Learn how to reframe your focus from negative thoughts about eating and exercise to finding satisfaction with some of your favorite foods and enjoyment of how your body moves.  Register here: http://bit.ly/UMETelCon

The conference call number, access code, and any materials will be sent to the email address used for registration. 

Please contact Ashley Biggs, Marketing & Outreach Librarian: Ashley.Biggs1@maryland.gov | 410-230-2430 with questions.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Tween/Teen Thursday!

Hot Reads for Cold Days!

Teens jumping; youth services; book, events, and more...

Contributed by LaShawn Myles, Youth Services Librarian

December 21st, is the first day of winter.  Reading some great winter reads, will help stave off the chill.  Here are some great picks.

Young Adult

Melissa de la Cruz and Michael Johnston
DB084361 (audio)
More than a century after a catastrophic disaster wiped out most of humanity and covered much of the earth with ice, fifteen-year-old Cass yields to the voice in her head urging her to embark on a dangerous journey across a poisoned sea to the mythical land, Blue.

After the Snow

S.D. Crockett
DB075997 (audio)
Fifteen-year-old Willo and his family are "stragglers," independent homesteaders who reject the repressive government that seized control after a new ice age brought an era of scarcity. When his family vanishes from their home, Willo sets out to find--or avenge—them.

Winterdance: The Fine Madness of Running the Iditarod
Gary Paulsen
DB043280 (audio)
Paulsen and his team of dogs endured snowstorms, frostbite, dogfights, moose attacks, sleeplessness, and hallucinations in the relentless push to go on.

Shadow & Bone (Book 1)
Leigh Bardugo
DB075094 (audio)
After exhibiting new-found powers during an attack on her convoy, Alina Starkov is taken from her post as a lowly assistant cartographer--and away from her only friend, Mal--to become the protégée of the mysterious and deadly Darkling. Some violence. For junior and senior high and older readers. 2012

Grades K-3

John Rocco
BR021045 (Braille)
After a massive blizzard, a boy becomes a hero when he manages to walk to the local store and bring supplies back to his neighborhood, which has been snowed in for days. PRINT/BRAILLE.

Snowflake Bentley
Jacqueline Briggs Martin
DBC08707 (download audio)
BR012032 (Print/Braille)
A biography of a self-taught scientist who photographed thousands of individual snowflakes in order to study their unique formations. 

Upcoming Events

Maryland Regional Braille Challenge

Braille is an important key to literacy! It allows for the enjoyment of reading, leads to school success, and opens the doors to future employment. Each year in February, students who read braille in grade Pre-K through grade 12 are invited to participate in the Maryland Regional Braille Challenge reading and writing contests. Parents are invited to participate in workshops about current topics related to visual impairment, the Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC) and education, while students are taking the tests. Teachers and school staff are invited to assist with test proctoring and scoring and helping to facilitate the day.

Students whose test scores qualify for the National Braille Challenge will be invited to compete at the annual competition which is held at the Braille Institute in Los Angeles, CA each June. 

Save the Date: the 2020 Maryland Braille Challenge will be held on Saturday, February 8, 2020

See 2020 MD Braille Challenge Flyer for more information
Register for the Maryland Braille Challenge by completing this 2020 MD Braille Challenge Registration Packet and this  2020 MD Braille Challenge Permission Form.

Enter the Student MDBC Creative Writing Contest

For more information, contact:
Jackie Otwell
410.444.5000, ext. 1488 | 

Enoch Pratt Library Poetry Contest

Maryland poets, this FREE contest is for YOU!  If you are a Maryland resident age 18 and older and enjoy writing, submit your work to the Enoch Pratt Free Library.  Rules are listed below.

  • Paid or volunteer staff of the Enoch Pratt Free Library and Little Patuxent Review and their immediate families are not eligible, nor are previous Pratt Library Poetry Contest first-place winners.
  • Please send only one original poem, on any theme and in any form, for consideration.
  • Your entry must be unpublished, either in print or on the Web, including personal blogs, Facebook, or Twitter. It cannot be currently under review for possible publication. 
  • Your entry must not exceed 100 lines.
  • Submit your typed entry as a Microsoft Word attachment by e-mail to contest@prattlibrary.org or by mail to:
Poetry Contest, Fiction Department
Pratt Library, 400 Cathedral St.
Baltimore, MD 21201-4484.
  • Entries received after Sunday, March 1, 2020, will be disqualified.
  • Please submit your name, address, phone number, and a brief biography on a separate page. Please do not put your name, address, phone number, or biography on the entry itself. Our judges will see only the poem.
  • Confirmation of receipt and comments on your entry will not be provided, nor will your entry be returned to you. These rules are also available on the contest page, where an announcement of the winner will be posted in mid-April: www.prattlibrary.org/poetrycontest

The winning poem will be published in Little Patuxent Review, enlarged for display in a Central Library window and celebrated at a public reading at the Library.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Technology User Group: Important Information

Technology User Group: Important Information

Contributed by Jerry Price, Assistive Technology Specialist

TUG boiler plate

Change is coming to the Technology User Group for 2020

Beginning on January 11, 2020, and running through December 12, The Technology User Group will be doing presentations from LBPH in Baltimore.  In addition, patrons can call in by phone so to listen in and enjoy the guest speakers and demonstrations.

Upcoming Technology User Group Presentations

January 11:  
Understanding 3D Audio and a look at the Amazon Echo Studio

February 8:  
A Quick Look at New Streaming Video services such as Disney Plus and Apple Plus

March 14:   
A Presentation by OrCam

All presentations will begin at 10 AM and last about 90 minutes


If you have any questions, contact jerry.price1@maryland.gov for more information. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Thank you for Hosting Braille Bettie

Thank you for Hosting Braille Bettie

Contributed by LaShawn Myles, Youth Services Librarian

During the month of October, Braille Bettie traveled across the state visiting schools, libraries, organizations, and even outdoor spaces.  It has been a blast and the support has been enormous.  The Maryland State Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped wants to thank all those who participated and advocated for “Braille Literacy” across the state.   A special thank you to the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland and the Governor’s Office of Community Initiatives. We shall continue to encourage and raise awareness of reading for ALL!  #ReadBrailleMD.

Please enjoy this "thank you" video! 

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Tech Tips: Four Finger Tap

Tech Tips: Four Finger Tap

Contributed by Jerry Price, Assistive Technology Specialist

Phone open to messenger setting

One of the more challenging gestures for using Voiceover is the four-finger tap.  Of course, you do not have to use four fingers on one hand but can use two fingers from both hands as long as there is a total of four.

  • Four-finger tap near the top of the screen:  Selects the first item on the screen
  • Four-finger tap near the bottom of the screen:  Selects the last item on the screen
  • Four Finger double-tap:  Starts and stops help.

For more great tips like this, subscribe to this blog or email Jerry Price to be added to his Tech Talk newsletter. 

Monday, December 16, 2019

Marylandia Collection: Update

Marylandia Collection: Update

Contributed by Mary Ramos, Collection Development Librarian

Marylandia Boiler Plate

The Marylandia Collection is produced by the LBPH Recording Studio. This collection includes books by Maryland authors and select regional authors and books of particular interest to Marylanders.  The Marylandia Collection is available for download through Braille & Audio Reading Download (BARD).  

Spy, Espionage - Fiction

DBC12467 – Forever Vulnerable, by Donald Helm
Narrated by John Breuer

Four Russian deep sleeper agents who have resided undetected in the United States for over twenty years are suddenly called upon by their government. The shock to the families is enormous as their lives are instantly turned upside down. The men, separated from their loved ones, are ordered to the eastern shore of Maryland where a Russian Major greets them and thus begins a series of events that will cause the reader to rethink how vulnerable our nation may be.  

Monday, December 2, 2019

MAT Program: Update

MAT Program: Update

Contributed by Joseph Beckett, Program Coordinator for MAT

MAT Program boiler plate: girl looking at camera; text states MAT provides accessible college textbooks to Maryland students

The Maryland Accessible Textbook program (MAT) is pleased to announce that it is positioned to extend services to the many print disabled military veterans attending Maryland colleges and universities. MAT’s recent participation in a veteran’s summit held at the New Carrollton Library in Prince Georges County, Maryland, increased its visibility and introduced the program to several organizations working with military veterans. Summit participants, previously unfamiliar with the program, were enthusiastic about learning more about the offerings and eager to introduce the program to their organizations and members. 

According to the Veteran’s Administration, there are nearly 400,00o veterans in the state of Maryland, 21.5 percent of whom are disabled. Of the almost 400,000 veterans, 9.9 percent are 18-34 years of age. This is the demographic that the MAT program serves.  Throughout the upcoming year (2020), the MAT program is planning to develop a partnership with the Blind Veterans Association as well as several other veterans focused organizations, increasing its reach to print-impaired veterans and increasing its involvement in veteran-focused events. As the year progresses, new organizations will be sought, and the MAT program will adapt its services to meet the absolute needs of those who sign up. 

If you know any veterans who are attending or interested in attending one of Maryland’s two or four years colleges, please have them contact us. We will guide them through the steps and processes regarding how to receive our textbook conversion services. 

For additional information about the Blind Veteran's Association, they can be reached at

Blinded Veterans Association (BVA)
1101 King Street, Suite 300, Alexandria, VA 22314
Phone: 844-603-0145
Fax: (202) 371-8258

Monday, November 25, 2019

Editorial: MAT Program

Editorial: MAT Program

Contributed by Joseph Beckett, Program Coordinator for MAT*

MAT Program boiler plate: girl looking at camera; text states MAT provides accessible college textbooks to Maryland students

Recently I was asked if the Maryland Accessible Textbook program converts books for school-aged children. While this is a common question and one which I would answer with a quick negative, I thought carefully about how I would respond.

Admittedly, I am uncertain of the number of K-12 students with print disabilities, especially those in public schools. Still, I know that the services needed and the ready availability of service providers are not encouraging. As a former public school teacher/administrator, the number of students with visual disabilities was often small,
resulting, unfortunately, in these children being almost overlooked. I asked the school worker how accommodations were made for print-impaired students. Her response was disappointing but not unexpected.

“We usually read to them or try to give them large printed materials,” she said sadly. “Because we have so few students needing these services, there hasn’t been much emphasis placed on giving better accommodations. We have some technology, but not
nearly enough.” We talked for a while, and she spoke of budget constraints, regulatory uncertainty, and the principal interest of the special education department being on other learning disabilities. 

Indeed her admissions were honest, but for the students, there was much being missed: academically, socially, and emotionally. What the school lacked (although they did their best for print disabled students) was, mainly, an under-acknowledged gateway to their adulthood challenges.

So, despite informing her that the MAT program does not convert materials for K-12 students and that many schools often have the most basic of necessary technology for print-impaired students, I provided her the names of several organizations that might be willing and able to help. With this information, her expression relaxed.

As we parted, she asked if I’d be willing to speak to her school’s Special Education department. I said I would. She smiled, and I smiled too. Although there was little I could offer regarding accessible materials, as a former special educator, speaking to her colleagues was the least I could do.

*The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the LBPH, MSL, or the employees.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Director's Corner: Library Updates

Director's Corner: Library Update

Contributed by John Owen, Director

Image of player on a table with a book and a coffee cup

This update was given at the National Federation for the Blind - Maryland Chapter's annual meeting on November 9, 2019.

On behalf of Irene Padilla, the State Librarian, the Maryland State Library Agency, the Maryland State Library Board and the Staff of the Maryland State Library for the Blind and (for now) Physically Handicapped, I thank you for the opportunity to address this convention about Our Library, Our Story and our Future.

But first, a seemingly unrelated story:  Fifty years ago in 1969, a Saturn V Rocket launched carrying three astronauts to the moon.  Their names were . . . Pete Conrad, Richard Gordon Jr., and Alan Bean.

Those weren’t the names you were expecting me to say, were they?  You were expecting Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin.

But in 1969 the United States successfully sent two ships to the moon – one in July and one in November.  In fact, all told, we landed on the moon six times (it would have seven if things had turned out differently for Apollo 13).  Each time we took new technology like cameras and land rovers, we explored new landscapes and we brought back more moon rock to study.  Each mission built on the last.  Each mission taught us something new.

One year ago, the Maryland State LBPH celebrated its 50th Anniversary.  We told our story, celebrated our legacy, acknowledged patrons who’d been with us since the beginning and we looked ahead.  Since that celebration we have:

  • Put 147 Marylandia books on BARD that have been downloaded over 8000 times by patrons both here in Maryland and across the country.
  • We re-opened our recording studio and are working with 11 weekly volunteers to record new projects.
  • Hosted a Center Stage Mobile Theater Unit performance of Antigone with audio description and a touch tour followed by a thoughtful and lively discussion.
  • Took our Technology User Group on the road to Hagerstown, Frederick, Greenbelt, Leisure World, Elkton, Bel Air, and Broadneck.
  • Sponsored an accessible tour of the Goddard Space Flight Center
  • Partnered with maker space group Full Blast STEAM and Baltimore YouthWorks to begin the Build a Better Book project to create multi-modal tactile storybooks
  • Presented at multiple public libraries on the Build a Better Book project to encourage more maker spaces to create new tactile, multi-modal storybooks
  • Sent Braille Bettie across the state to promote Read Braille across Maryland, a program in cooperation with the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland and Governor Hogan to Read Across Maryland.  Braille Bettie appeared with many of our Braille readers and partners through social media posts.
  • Encouraged reading through the summer for both youth and adults with the Summer Reading Program theme “A Universe of Stories”
  • Assisted with making NASA learning kits accessible.  These kits are being used by public libraries for programming across the state.
  • Visited all three NFB Bell Academies
  • Provided service to 13 inmates at the Roxbury Correctional Institute in cooperation with librarians there
  • Began planning for a transition to creating customized cartridges for patrons in the coming year
  • Began offering Bookshare accounts to patrons of our library who are new to Bookshare
  • Hosted Teleconferences on Microagressions, One Maryland One Book, and Weather and Disaster Preparedness
  • Created a program and curriculum for accessible STEM programs through a grant from the Rural Maryland Council.
  • Served alongside 36 dedicated volunteers who gave over 1970 hours of service
  • Served over 50 students at 11 colleges and universities with accessible textbooks through the Maryland Accessible Textbook program
  • Added more than 800 new patrons and circulated over 220,000 items including digital cartridges, Braille books, large print, downloadable content, DVDs and equipment.
  • Served 6700 active patrons in every county across the State of Maryland
  • Connected with Nonprofits, Social Workers, TVIs, and other professionals to help them connect their clients to us
  • Welcomed new staff:  Kevin Middleton (IT), Taryn Tranby (Secretary/Patron Services), Brittney Lee (MAT program associate), William Jones (Maintenance)
  • Said goodbye to Leslie Bowman, a fierce advocate for our library and the blind community, as she moved to Missouri to lead the Wolfner Talking Book Library (and be closer to her granddaughter).  She led many new initiatives in the few years she was here.
  • Announced a new director – that’d be me.

So perhaps we’ll call this our Apollo 12 . . . or our Apollo 17 . . . or even our Apollo 13 but whatever happens in or out of our control, we will listen, we will learn, we will ask questions, we will solve problems, we will turn difficulties into successes and grow in our service to our patrons – you all -- across Maryland. 

This next voyage is already in progress:

By this time next year but much sooner, we will be the Maryland State Library for the Blind and Print Disabled.  This will line us up with the language of the Marrakesh Treaty, ratified by the US in February 2019, and with the NLS which changed its name on October 1.  It will reflect our commitment to making information and reading material accessible for all.

By this time next year but much sooner, we will have implemented the Duplication on Demand service model which will enable the efficient creation of custom cartridges with multiple titles for patrons.  Patrons who get cartridges from us will see more books available more readily.  These changes benefit you the patron because we can focus on our energy on serving your information needs.

By this time next year but much sooner, we will have hosted a fourth Center Stage Mobile Theater production, offered more creative tactile tours, presented a series of teleconferences in cooperation with the University of Maryland Extension, experimented with hosting TUG through Zoom or other online remote meeting applications, encouraged readers to “Imagine Your Story” through the Summer Reading Program, and recorded more books and completed another phase of our Analog-to-Digital conversion of retrospective Marylandia books.

By this time next year and much sooner, we will be connecting with our blind and print disabled veterans, and people seeking job readiness skills.

By this time next year and much sooner (meaning right now), we will offer our patrons accounts with Bookshare.

By this time next year and much sooner, we will have discovered more of the informal networks that bring our patrons together so that we can connect you to services, information, resources and reading materials as information providers across the state.

We are grateful to our partners in NFB, MSDE, BISM, DoRS, MDTAP, our Advisory Council and our Friends group for serving our shared patrons alongside each other.

So talk to us.  Let us hear from you.  We will walk alongside you.  It took people from all walks of life bringing their pieces to the puzzle to get to the moon again and again.  It will take the same philosophy to continue the mission of serving the blind and print disabled community in the State of Maryland.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Marylandia Collection: Update

Marylandia Collection: Update

Contributed by Mary Ramos, Collection Development Librarian

Marylandia Boiler Plate

The Marylandia Collection is produced by the LBPH Recording Studio. This collection includes books by Maryland authors and select regional authors and books of particular interest to Marylanders.  The Marylandia Collection is available for download through Braille & Audio Reading Download (BARD).  


DBC12455 – Edgar Allan Poe's Baltimore, by David Gaylin
Narrated by Ken Hunkins

Edgar Allan Poe wrote his great works while living in several cities on the East Coast of the United States, but Baltimore's claim to him is special. His ancestors settled in the burgeoning town on the Chesapeake during the 18th century, and it was in Baltimore that he found refuge when his foster family in Virginia shut him out. Most importantly, it was here that he was first paid for his literary work. If Baltimore discovered Poe, it also has the inglorious honor of being the place that destroyed him. On October 7, 1849, he died in this city, then known as "Mob Town." Edgar Allan Poe's Baltimore is the first book to explore the poet's life in this port city and in the quaint little house on Amity Street, where he once wrote. For high school and adult.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Library Event

Weather and Disaster Preparedness 

Weather and Disaster Program Slider

Free Teleconference 

Contributed by Ashley Biggs, Outreach Librarian

Are you ready for winter weather?

Maryland has made much progress with respect to emergency preparedness, response, and disaster recovery. The ability to access information by all Maryland residents is crucial, particularly those with disabilities or certain limitations. Please join us on November 6 at 6:30 p.m. for a lively and informative conference call presentation with the Maryland Emergency Management Agency and the Maryland Department of Disabilities to discuss how the State of Maryland prepares for, mitigates against, and responds to emergencies and what resources are available before, during, and after a crisis.  The program should take about 40 minutes with a Q&A to follow.

Join us on:
Wednesday, November 6 at 6:30 PM
Join Hangouts Meet: 

Join by phone
‪1 513-816-0553;‬ PIN: ‪793 600 511‬#

Presentation Slides are available here​. This program will NOT be recorded. 

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Teen/Tween Thursday: Library Preferences

Teen/Tween Thursday!

Library Preferences for Accounts

Contributed by LaShawn Myles, Youth Services Librarian

Have you updated your preferences lately?

As your child ages, their interests tend to reflect the social, physical, and environmental changes they experience. Did you know that you can update your child's reading preferences at any time, to reflect their changing interests? Common questions to ask yourself before updating your MD LBPH account:

  • Is your child getting the books he or she likes to read?
  • Is your contact information, your child's contact information, the same, or has it changed in recent years?
  • Have you signed up for BARD Mobile? 

Look out for additional correspondence from the Youth Services Librarian in the coming weeks, and never hesitate to reach out to the library with any questions about your child's account.  

Monday, October 21, 2019

Marylandia Collection Update

Marylandia Collection Update

Marylandia Collection: Update

Contributed by Mary Ramos, Collection Development Librarian

Marylandia Boiler Plate

The Marylandia Collection is produced by the LBPH Recording Studio. This collection includes books by Maryland authors and select regional authors and books of particular interest to Marylanders.  The Marylandia Collection is available for download through Braille & Audio Reading Download (BARD).  

Historical Fiction

DBC05345 The Tide King, by Jen Michalski
Narrated by Janet Sanford

Stanley Polensky and Calvin Johnson serve in Germany during World War II. Calvin, near death after being shelled, is given a bewitched herb by Stanley and then left for dead. Each soldier returns from the war and years pass. Calvin, discovering he cannot age and cannot die, searches for Stanley to get answers.

You can search BARD for this and other great titles by visiting: https://nlsbard.loc.gov/login//NLS or via the Mobile App.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Tech Tips: ScripTalk

Tech Tips: ScripTalk

Contributed by Jerry Price, Assistive Technology Specialist

ScripTalk iOS app icon

En-Vision America has recently updated and re-released ScripTalk Mobile, an iOS application that allows printed prescription labels to be read by individuals with vision impairment or blindness. 

Participating pharmacies will use an RFID enabled tag on prescription bottles. These tags will enable the iOS app to utilize any Near Feild Communication (NFC) enabled the iOS device to read a prescription bottle with ease. 

Which iOS phones work with NFC? Unfortunately, iPhones 7 and up will be the only phones that are able to take advantage of this product. 

Don't have an iOS phone 7 or above? En-Vision America still offers other ways for individuals with vision impairments to safely access their prescriptions. 

For more information, please read the following articles and listen to the following review by Sam at the BlindLife:

Monday, October 7, 2019

Maryland Accessible Textbook Program: Fall Update

Maryland College Textbook Program

MAT Program: Update

Contributed by Joseph Beckett, Program Coordinator for MAT

MAT Program boiler plate: girl looking at camera; text states MAT provides accessible college textbooks to Maryland students

The Maryland College Textbook Program is a specialized program under the Maryland State Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped that provides assistance to print-disabled college students by providing accessible textbooks. 

The Maryland Accessible Textbook program (MAT) is expected to deliver over one-hundred and fifty accessible textbooks to approximately seventy students attending Maryland colleges. 

However, there are many more qualifying print-disabled students that are unaware of the services MAT provides. After careful consideration and collaboration with other agencies, the MAT hopes to connect with more students through a revitalized marketing and outreach campaign. 

Additionally,  the MAT program has been working to provide materials in ePub formats, allowing students to access converted textbooks via Kindle and eReaders. By incorporating ePub, the MAT program hopes to increase its offerings, which currently includes PDF, Large Print, Audio, and Daisy formats. 

Subscribe to the Blog and LBPH social media for updates from the MAT program as LBPH staff explore technological and process improvements. The goal of the Maryland Accessible Textbook program is simple: To provide the best service possible to print-disabled students attending Maryland colleges and Universities.