Teacher Appreciation Week 2022: Origin, Notable Teachers, and Non-Monetary Gift Ideas

Nearly everyone has a story to share about a favorite teacher from their school years. It is easy to understand why special days to honor these professionals were created. This blog will explore the formation of Teacher Appreciation Week, share tidbits on a few notable teachers from history, and offer a few heartfelt free gift ideas that can be given now or any time during the year to show a special teacher how much they mean to you. For further reading on the below sections see The History Behind Teacher Appreciation Week, Famous Teachers in History, and 10 Teacher Appreciation Gifts That Don’t Cost Anything.

Brief History of Teacher Appreciation Week

Teacher Appreciation Week originated in 1953 (as National Teacher Day), and teachers have Eleanor Roosevelt to thank for its inception. Roosevelt convinced Congress that there needed to be a specific day on which teachers were recognized. Prior to Roosevelt going before Congress, it is believed that some states had such days of appreciation, but it is unclear and unsubstantiated.

Even with Eleanor Roosevelt taking the case to Congress and getting their help and support, it would take another 27 years for it to become an official national day. It was 1980 when the National Education Association (NEA), which was formed in 1857, joined together with the Kansas State and Indiana State Boards of Education and began to lobby Congress to have the day nationally recognized.

National Teacher Day was celebrated on March 7th until 1984, when it was moved to May. Behind the move was the National Parent Teacher Association and, instead of just one day, they named the entire first week of May to be Teacher Appreciation Week. The NEA followed suit the next year and held National Teacher Appreciation Day on the Tuesday of the week.

There are still a few cases of oddities though. Massachusetts celebrates Teacher’s Day not on National Teacher Day, but instead on the first Sunday of June; perhaps because teachers are out for summer and therefore get to relax on their special day.

Notable Teachers from History

Anne Sullivan: A mere 20 years old when first employed to school the deaf and blind Helen in 1887, Anne Sullivan herself was blind for much of the first part of her life. Educated at the Perkins School for the Blind in Boston, Sullivan had recovered part of her eyesight by the time she traveled to Alabama to begin her job as Helen Keller’s governess. Undoubtedly, Sullivan’s own partial blindness gave her insight (in the fullest meaning of the word) into the little girl’s closed-off world.

Sullivan’s breakthrough with Keller came as she spelled words out on her open palm to make her understand that things had words attached to them. Sullivan placed one of Keller’s hands under running water; on the other, she spelled “w-a-t-e-r.” Soon, Keller could express herself far beyond the series of primitive signs that had been her sole means of communication up to that point.

Sullivan directed Keller’s family to send her to the Perkins School, and from that point on, she remained Keller’s companion until her death in 1936. Helen Keller would live a long life as a successful and inspiring writer, lecturer, and activist.

Maria Montessori: Born in Italy in 1870, Maria Montessori was exceptional from the beginning. The only female attendee of an all-boys school, she excelled at her studies and eventually earned a degree that made her one of Italy’s first female doctors. She became interested in education, and in 1907, opened a child-care center in Rome called Casa del Bambini (Children’s House) that allowed her to put her educational theories into practice.

Foremost among her theories was the idea that children essentially teach themselves; the teacher’s primary responsibility is to create the appropriate environment for learning and provide the spark that allows children to develop naturally. Given the ability to be mobile and learn from their surroundings rather than being forced to sit still and be lectured to, most children, even rough inner-city kids, flourished under her system.

William Holmes McGuffey: William McGuffey was born in 1800 and was a precocious child. He was such an adept student, in fact, that he began to teach classes himself at the age of 14. Putting in long hours at country schoolhouses in Ohio and Kentucky, McGuffey saw that there was no standard method to teach students how to read; in most cases, the Bible was the only book available.

McGuffey paused his teaching career to attend college himself, and by age 26, he had been appointed Professor of Languages at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. His ideas about language teaching were much admired by his colleagues, and in 1835, through the intercession of his friend Harriet Beecher Stowe, he was asked to write a series of readers for the publisher Truman and Smith.

McGuffey’s readers, more correctly known as Eclectic Readers, set a template for textbooks that we still follow today. They followed a steady progression from the first reader through the fourth, beginning with teaching of the alphabet and phonics alongside simple sentences, and progressing all of the way up to poems and stories. The popularity of McGuffey’s readers was massive. In print from 1836 to the present day, it’s estimated that they have sold in excess of 120 million copies. They long outlived their author, who passed away in 1873.

Teacher Appreciation Gift Ideas with No Monetary Cost

Teacher appreciation shouldn’t be about spending money. The following are fun and inventive ways to celebrate the teachers in your life. The following are five of the ten ideas presented in the article 10 Teacher Appreciation Gifts That Don’t Cost Anything. Using a little ingenuity, these idea can be tweaked to honor teachers of all grades and levels from daycare al the day up to university.

Applause parade. Have students line the hallway one morning during Teacher Appreciation Week and clap as the teachers enter the building.

Class song. This requires a little rehearsal. Have a class parent work with students to sing a simple song like “You Are My Sunshine.” Rehearse during a recess time shortly before Teacher Appreciation Week. Set up a special surprise performance for the teacher during the week.

Class cleanup. A class parent can oversee daily classroom cleanups with the children. This could be done after school, or the teacher may allow a few minutes before the end of the day or at the start of the day to help make this happen.

Thank-you notes. Have the children each write a handwritten note about what makes their teacher special.

Social shout-out. Post a thank-you with photos on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to tell your teachers how much they mean to you.

If none of these ideas sound ideal to you, there are tons of other articles available online concerning teacher appreciation gift ideas.

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Brief Overview of the Blindshell Family of Phones

The Blindshell line of phones were created with the visually impaired and blind person in mind. This blog will look at some of the key features of the Blindshell Classic Lite, Blindshell Classic, and Blindshell Classic 2 with product links provided from the ILA website. The phone style has been named “candy-bar” as they are approximately the same size as a standard candy bar. See below for more details.

Blindshell Classic Lite

BlindShell Lite is a fully vocalized phone for visually impaired and blind users. The main features of the phone are its simplicity and its physical keyboard, by which the phone can be fully controlled. The following information comes from the article The Smarter Phone: BlindShell Classic Lite.

Like its older sibling, the BlindShell Classic, the BlindShell Lite is a candy-bar style phone with the display and touchpad on one side of a straight, non-folding phone. The phone is about 5.5 inches long (nearly 3 inches of that dimension is display), 2.5 inches wide, and weighs about 4 ounces. The BlindShell Lite’s dimensions are very similar to the BlindShell Classic—it simply has fewer features.

While the BlindShell Lite is certainly not what you might consider a smartphone, it has one elegant feature that’s quite smart: spoken menus from the moment the phone is turned on. Power on the phone to a spoken status update, and navigate through the menu with a large, centrally located directional pad, with each menu item spoken. You can feel the navigational buttons with your fingertips, and you don’t need to turn on a screen reader.

In addition to the text-to-speech, the BlindShell Lite offers a large-print display with high contrast and a dialing pad with a well-spaced number pad and navigation keys. On the side opposite the keypad there is even an SOS button that can be preset to an emergency number of ‘your choice for one-touch speed dialing.

You can order the Blindshell Classic Lite from ILA by following the link provided.

Blindshell Classic

BlindShell Classic is a button phone for blind and visually impaired people. The phone is operated via the physical keypad or by voice commands. Feedback is provided by the built-in synthetic voice, vibrations and additional acoustic signals. The following information comes from the article The BlindShell Classic Accessible Feature Cell Phone, a Smart Alternative.

One of the things you’ll notice very quickly about this phone is that it functions like it was built from the ground up with user accessibility in mind, not as a feature that was bolted on as an afterthought. When you unbox the phone, install the battery, and long press the Back button, the phone starts with text-to-speech and an interactive tutorial. The tutorial is quick and gives new users the opportunity to learn what each button on the phone does. While exploring the phone, you’ll discover that out of the box, the BlindShell offers 4 female voices and 3 male voices in the Settings > Sounds > Voice Output menus. In addition to 10 voices, there are 4 levels of speech intonation and 5 levels of voice rates, to make speech output very customizable.

Each menu item is numbered, and when it is read, you hear both its number and the number of menu items in that level. So, for example, the second item in the main menu is Messages. When we get to the Messages menu item we hear, “Messages, two of nine.” As a shortcut, to jump to any menu item, simply press its number. So, pressing 2 when you’re on the main menu will open the Messages menu item.

For many users, having a tactile number pad and navigational buttons will make this phone easier to use than a conventional touchscreen smartphone, with perhaps one notable exception: the need to type in text using the number pad, a skill many of us have forgotten or never learned in the first place. This issue aside, BlindShell offers a great deal of functionality. In the More Applications menu, you’ll find a range of applications that make the BlindShell every bit as useful as a touchscreen smartphone. In addition to common applications like Email, Messaging, Calendar, Alarms, Timer, Stopwatch, Voice Recorder, Calculator, Weather, and Dictionary, there are several applications in the More Applications > Vision Aids menu that are worth mentioning. The Color Indicator is a handy color identifier. Hold the camera over an item and press the Confirm button to hear the color described. It seemed the accuracy of the Color Indicator was about 50%, probably due to the limitations of the 2-megapixel camera. For the casual user, having this application built into the phone is a convenient feature, but if you need more accurate results, a separate, stand-alone color identifier is a better choice.

You can order Blindshell Classic from ILA by following the link provided.

Blindshell Classic 2

BlindShell Classic 2 is a button phone for blind and visually impaired people. The phone is controlled via the physical keypad or by voice commands. Feedback is provided by the built-in synthetic voice, vibrations, and additional acoustic signals. The following information comes from the article BlindShell Classic 2: The Smarter Smart Phone.

This latest version of the BlindShell Classic introduces upgrades in both the hardware and design of the phone. Blindshell Classic 2 also includes new apps and software. The camera, for example, now boasts eight-megapixel images. The upgraded camera not only takes great pictures, but makes apps like Google Lookout, Be My Eyes, and Magnifying Glass, work as well as they do on those smartphones without buttons. Additionally, the speaker has been upgraded to offer greater volume and the navigation buttons redesigned to make the controls easier to use. The volume toggle is now on the side, as is the button used for dictation.

The overall design of the phone remains relatively unchanged. The top half of the phone is dedicated to the display, with the keypad and navigation buttons beneath it. A USB port for charging and file transfer and a headphone jack are located on the top and bottom edges.

Added Features

  • LED Flashlight. An LED flashlight is on the top edge of the phone. When the flashlight is enabled, the phone beeps regularly to remind you it is on.
  • Near Field Communication (NFC) scanning (a form of contactless communication between devices like smartphones or tablets). Several NFC labels (included with the phone), allow individuals to make audio recordings that play when the phone encounters one of the labels. Labels can be erased and rerecorded, as needed.
  • The BlindShell Beep labeling system. The BlindShell Beep is a thin, square electronic tag, about an inch wide, that is used with the Beepers App. Just attach the BlindShell Beep to a set of keys, purse, wallet, luggage—anything that has a tendency to get misplaced. When the Beepers App is enabled, the tag emits a continuous sound to help you locate it.

In addition to the new bells and whistles, the BlindShell Classic 2 keeps many of the features of the original BlindShell. Moving through the menu is straight forward, using an up and down key and the Confirm key or Back key. These last two keys are also used to answer or hang up a phone call.

You can order the Blindshell Classic 2 from ILA by following the link provided.

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Vision Impairment Basics with Example Assistive Products

According to statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO), globally, at least 2.2 billion people have a near or distance vision impairment. Statistics from the same year estimate that the world population was 7.753 billion meaning that 1 in 4 persons worldwide have some sort of vision issue. This blog will look at the technical definition of vision impairment, statistics, and products from ILA that can either help make products adaptative for vision issues or merchandise created specifically for the visually impaired.

Definition of Vision Impairment

Vision impairment poses an enormous global financial burden with the annual global costs of productivity losses associated with vision impairment from uncorrected myopia and presbyopia alone estimated to be US$ 244 billion and US$ 25.4 billion.

The same WHO article further states:

The International Classification of Diseases 11 (2018) classifies vision impairment into two groups, distance and near presenting vision impairment. The first set of numbers are in meters with the American approximate equivalent in parentheses.

Distance vision impairment:

  • Mild –visual acuity worse than 6/12 to 6/18 (American 20/39 to 20/59)
  • Moderate –visual acuity worse than 6/18 to 6/60 (American 20/59 to 20/197)
  • Severe –visual acuity worse than 6/60 to 3/60 (American 20/197 to 10/197)
  • Blindness –visual acuity worse than 3/60 (American 10/197)

Near vision impairment:

  • Near visual acuity worse than N6 or M.08 at 40cm.

A person’s experience of vision impairment varies depending upon many different factors. This includes for example, the availability of prevention and treatment interventions, access to vision rehabilitation (including assistive products such as glasses or white canes), and whether the person experiences problems with inaccessible buildings, transport and information.

Vision Impairment Statistics

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has extensive coverage on all things related to eye health. The following statistics come from their Fast Facts of Common Eye Disorders page.

  • Approximately 12 million people 40 years and over in the United States have vision impairment, including 1 million who are blind, 3 million who have vision impairment after correction, and 8 million who have vision impairment due to uncorrected refractive error.
  • Approximately 6.8% of children younger than 18 years in the United States have a diagnosed eye and vision condition. Nearly 3 percent of children younger than 18 years are blind or visually impaired, defined as having trouble seeing even when wearing glasses or contact lenses.
  • The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reports that every day about 2,000 U.S. workers sustain job-related eye injuries that require medical treatment. However, safety experts and eye doctors believe the right eye protection can lessen the severity or even prevent 90 percent of these eye injuries.
  •  An estimated 93 million adults in the United States are at high risk for serious vision loss, but only half visited an eye doctor in the past 12 months.
  • Vision disability is one of the top 10 disabilities among adults 18 years and older and one of the most prevalent disabling conditions among children.
  • Vision loss causes a substantial social and economic toll for millions of people including significant suffering, disability, loss of productivity, and diminished quality of life.

Eye care and glasses can be expensive. And even if you have health insurance, it may not include vision coverage. The good news is that lots of programs offer help, like free or low-cost eye exams and eyeglasses. If you need financial assistance check out this list of organizations provided by the National Health Institute.

Products to Assist Persons with Vision Impairment

The following are just a few of the many items sold by ILA that help address vision loss and impairment. To find even more products see the full website at ILA.

Photo Phone by Clarity: Simply touch the picture of the person you wish to call and the Photo Phone corded telephone dials the number for you. Since it has 9 easy to program photo-dial buttons as well as the regular alphanumeric buttons it is useful for the entire family. Comes with three designer photo-frames.

Giant Button Affordable Speaker Phone: This convenient phone offers large buttons, 10 two-touch speed dialing, 3 programmable one-touch speed dials, hold button, and a last number re-dial. It also has a two-way speaker phone with volume control for easier hands-free use. Please note this telephone is a corded, landline phone.

KEYS-U-SEE Wireless Large Print Keyboard w/ Mouse: Bigger, bolder print on each key makes them easier to see! The Keys-U-See wireless large print computer keyboard and mouse combination is designed for those who have a hard time seeing the existing letters on the standard keyboard. This user-friendly large print keyboard also has 12 “hot keys” providing easy access to common functions. Wireless functionality means that there are no cords to get tangled on your desk.

Marinoff Low Vision Playing Cards: Designed by the ophthalmologist, Dr. Gerald Marinoff, to enable individuals with vision problems to see the numbers more easily on playing cards. They come with 1.25 inch high numbers. The outstanding feature is the black outline that surrounds the large numbers to make them ‘stand out’.

Big Print Address Book With ILA Low Vision Pen: This spiral bound address book is printed in over 24 point type, making it very easy to see where to write your contact’s name, address and phone numbers. The large alphabet tabs guide you to the section you want. You can record 3 entries per page for a total of 550 contacts. Its laminated hard cover has inside pockets in which to keep stamps or return address labels. Provided with an ila CAN-DO Low Vision Pen.

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All about Computer Keyboards and Computer Mice/Mouses

Anyone who has tried to type out long text on tiny keys after using a full size keyboard knows the importance that type, and size of typing apparatuses can make. What many may not realize, however, is the vast array of types and sizes both keyboards and computer mice are available for purchase and use. This blog will look at many different kinds of these computer peripheral devices along with a few highlighted products from ILA.

Computer Keyboards

There are many different types of computer keyboards on the market today. One of the more comprehensive overviews I’ve found comes from the article Types of Keyboards for Computers: How to Choose the Right One. This section will look at 5 of the 13 types listed.

Qwerty Keyboards   

Designed in the likeness of old-fashioned typewriters, QWERTY is the most common keyboard layout. Generations of typists have come to know the QWERTY keyboard, and most students learn to type with this kind of keyboard layout.

Where it excels: The QWERTY keyboard layout is comfortable, familiar and time-tested, ideal for everyday typing needs. If you are happy enough with your word-per-minute typing rate using QWERTY, you won’t need to learn a new system on a keyboard with a different layout.

Ergonomic Keyboards

Ergonomic keyboards refer to any keyboards designed to reduce strain on the body from typing. These kinds of keyboards are often laid out so that you can rest your hands in a more comfortable, natural position as you type.

Where it excels: Because ergonomic keyboards are designed to reduce strain on your hands, arms and wrists while you type, they can be a great choice for those concerned about posture, hand, arm or shoulder pain, or the possibility of developing typing-related medical conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome.

Wireless Keyboards   

Relying on a radio frequency antenna or infrared to keep you connected, wireless RF keyboards offer a bit of freedom in your computing activities.

Where it excels: Wireless keyboards offer flexibility to move about while working on a computer without the clutter of excess wires. Because these keyboards are wire-free, they can also be a great option to take on-the-go because there won’t be any cords that can tangle in your work bag.

Bluetooth Keyboards   

A bit pricier than other wireless keyboard models, Bluetooth keyboards offer numerous features and benefits. As you might be able to guess by the name, these keyboards sync up with a laptop using Bluetooth connectivity.

Where it excels: Bluetooth keyboards offer great flexibility with a sizable range of use and versatility. These keyboards also won’t tie up a USB port on your computer, meaning you can use that to connect to other devices.

Backlit Keyboards   

An ambient glow from your keyboard makes it easy to type in the dark or in low-lighting and can also deliver a stunning “wow” factor.

Where it excels: Backlit keyboards bring radiance to your gaming and computer work in both wired and wireless designs. While backlit keys may not be a necessity, they can be a great option for those with vision issues as they make it easy to see all of the keys on the keyboard.

Computer Mice/Mouses

When it comes to the plural of the computer mouse both mice and mouses are considered correct. Just like there are a myriad of keyboard options there are also a plethora of various types of computer mice. A nice comprehensive breakdown of this peripheral device can be found in Types of Computer Mice- Which One Should I Get? This section will look at 5 of the 12 mentioned types of mice.

Mechanical Mouse

The mechanical or ball mouse is a refined version of Engelbart’s original mouse which had external wheels. Instead of wheels, mechanical mice have a metal or rubber ball that can spin in any direction. Two rollers keep track of the ball’s movements and convert the data into electric signals for the display cursor. The good thing about the ball mouse is that it’s cheap and it works on glossy surfaces. But it does require regular cleaning to operate smoothly.

Optical and Laser Mouse

If you’re using a mouse today, chances are that it’s either optical or laser mouse. Instead of a ball, optical mice detect the user’s movements using the reflected light of light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Laser mice, of course, use laser light. Since they have fewer moving parts, they are more reliable than a mechanical mouse. They are also more sensitive and do not require regular cleaning. The only downfall to the optical mouse is that it does not work on shiny surfaces which the mouse sees as its own reflection tricking the software into thinking it is not moving. Laser mice do not have this limitation.

Wireless Mouse

There are two types of wireless mouses out on the market today:

  • RF Mouse: This type of wireless mouse uses radio frequency to send signals to the receiving computer or device. A dongle inserted into the device’s USB slot is usually needed to actualize the set up.
  • Bluetooth Mouse: This type of wireless mouse takes advantage of the Bluetooth protocol that most modern computers have. Because of this, Bluetooth mice usually don’t need a dongle. Using the 2.4 GHz radio frequency (RF) range, it has a range of about 33 feet (10 meters).

The biggest drawback of RF wireless mouse is the need for a dongle, while for Bluetooth, it’s the higher latency and delay when pairing up with your computer.

Trackball Mouse

A trackball mouse consists of a large ball housed inside a stationary unit. You rotate the ball using your fingers, thumb, or palm to control the cursor on the screen.

There are two types of trackball mice:

  • Finger-Operated Trackball: With its symmetrical design, this can be used by either hand.
  • Thumb-Operated Trackball: Asymmetric by nature, it’s hard to find this type of trackball mouse in a left-handed configuration.

The trackball mouse can be a good choice for anyone with CTS and other RSI, as it minimizes common wrist movements such as the “windshield” action that often leads to wrist pain (especially the thumb operated version). It’s a good alternative as well for the elderly who have difficulty keeping a traditional mouse still while double-clicking.

A trackball mouse is also great in tight or uneven surfaces (such as on a couch).

Of course, it has some pitfalls too. It is not as precise as the standard mouse in tasks like drag and drop and selection. It is not suitable for fast-paced gaming either.

Roller Bar Mouse

Sometimes referred to as the track bar, the roller bar mouse is placed directly in front of your keyboard. It comes with a small bar which you can move sideways, forward, and backward to control your cursor. You can tap on it to click or use the designated buttons. It also usually comes with a built-in palm rest.

There are several benefits to using this type of mouse.

  • Prevents stretching to reach the mouse, which can strain the neck, back, and shoulders
  • A good alternative for people with arthritis and others who find it difficult to grasp a traditional mouse
  • Can be used by both hands to minimize fatigue
  • Helps with thumb pain.

Specialized Keyboards and Mice from ILA

ILA offers many options to assist persons who are visually and/or physically impaired to be able to use their technological devices more easily. To see more specialized products, click on assistive technology.

KEYS-U-SEE Wireless Large Print Keyboard w/ Mouse: Bigger, bolder print on each key makes them easier to see! The Keys-U-See wireless large print computer keyboard and mouse combination is designed for those who have a hard time seeing the existing letters on the standard keyboard. This user-friendly large print keyboard also has 12 “hot keys” providing easy access to common functions. Wireless functionality means that there are no cords to get tangled on your desk.

LogicKeys LP Apple Keyboard for MAC: Large print keyboards for Mac computers are perfect for those individuals who are having a hard time seeing the existing commands on their keyboards. By offering a bigger and bolder typeface, the keys become easier to see. These keyboards are especially designed to assist the low-vision Mac user.

Big Track Mouse Ball: The BIGtrack is a valuable tool for users who lack fine motor skills which a regular mouse requires. For example, if you have arthritis an ordinary mouse can be difficult to hold and keep the cursor in position whilst you click. The BIGtrack allows you to settle the cursor in position and then click easily without moving the cursor inadvertently.

The giant yellow 3″ trackball makes it easy to get the cursor to precisely where you want it and bright blue right and left click buttons are easy to see and distinguish.

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Information about: National Library Week and the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled

National Library Week is a recurring event that happens once each year in April. This year the event will be the week of April 3rd through the 9th.  This blog will look at the origins of the event, library facts and figures, a brief overview of the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled, and highlighted items from ILA to help the visually impaired make the most out of reading this week and every other week of the year. Information for this article was obtained from National Library Week Press Kit, Actress and comedian Molly Shannon to serve as 2022 National Library Week honorary chair, Quotable Facts About America’s Libraries – January 2019, Information about the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled, and the ILA website.

History of National Library Week

First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and observed in libraries across the country each April. All types of libraries – school, public, academic and special – participate.

In the mid-1950s, research showed that Americans were spending less on books and more on radios, televisions and musical instruments. Concerned that Americans were reading less, the ALA and the American Book Publishers formed a nonprofit citizens organization called the National Book Committee in 1954. The committee’s goals were ambitious.  They ranged from “encouraging people to read in their increasing leisure time” to “improving incomes and health” and “developing strong and happy family life.”  With the cooperation of ALA and with help from the Advertising Council, the first National Library Week was observed in 1958 with the theme “Wake Up and Read!”

National Library Week celebrations include the release of ALA’s State of America’s Libraries Report, April 4; National Library Workers Day, April 5; National Library Outreach Day, April 6; Take Action for Libraries Day, April 7; and the celebration of School Library Month throughout April.

The 2022 Honorary Chair is none other than actress and comedian Molly Shannon who states, “I am so honored to serve as honorary chair of National Library Week for 2022. My mom was a librarian. She encouraged kids to read. So, the work of librarians and libraries has such a special place in my heart,” Shannon said. “Libraries are places where communities connect—to things like broadband, computers, programs and classes, books, movies, video games, and more. But most importantly, libraries connect us to each other. Supporting National Library Week in this role allows me to connect to my mother’s memory and all the librarians out there. Thank you for everything you do.” 

Quotable Facts about American Libraries

  • The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world, with more than 167 million items on approximately 838 miles of bookshelves, which would span roughly the distance from The Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., to Cape Canaveral, Florida.
  • Libraries play a critical role in the happiness of Americans. Communities that spend more on libraries, parks and highways are shown to support the well-being of community members.
  • Americans go to public libraries more often than they go to the movies.
  • There are more public libraries than Starbucks in the U.S. – a total of 16,568, including branches. Nearly 100% of public libraries provide Wi-Fi and have no-fee access to computers.
  • There were 113 million attendees at public library programs in 2016, more than all Major League Baseball, National Football League, and NBA games combined. That’s 16.5 million more than in 2013.
  • Students in high-poverty schools are almost twice as likely to graduate when the school library is staffed with a certified school librarian.
  • 100% of public libraries offer access to the Internet
  • 98% of public libraries offer free Wi-Fi
  • 90% help patrons with basic Internet skills
  • 97% help people complete online government forms
  • 9 out of 10 libraries offer access to e-books

National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled

The National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled (NLS), Library of Congress, administers a free national library program that provides braille and recorded materials to people who cannot see regular print or handle print materials. Established by an Act of Congress in 1931 to serve blind adults, the program was expanded in 1952 to include children, in 1962 to provide music materials, in 1966 to include individuals with other physical disabilities that prevent reading regular print, and in 2016 to permit NLS to provide refreshable braille displays. The NLS program is funded annually by Congress, and books and materials are mailed as “Free Matter for the Blind or Handicapped” through a separate appropriation to the United States Postal Service. Cooperating network libraries are funded through a combination of state, local, and/or federal sources.

The NLS Catalog contains more than 281,000 book records, of which more than 74,000 are braille books and braille music scores and 207,000 are talking books.

Any resident of the United States or American citizen living abroad who is unable to read or use regular print materials as a result of temporary or permanent visual or physical limitations may apply for service.

Product Highlights

Milestone 212 Ace Book Reader: If you are seeking a compact audio and DAISY player, then the Milestone 212 Ace is probably the perfect device for you! It fits in the palm of your hand and has 6 simple tactile buttons for ease of use. It can read aloud National Library Service (NLS), Audible.com, and DAISY downloaded books. It can also retain and play MP3, WAV, WMA and iTunes AAC audio files. You can also use this Milestone 212 Ace for recording quick notes to self or lectures that you attend.

New Victor Reader Stream: The New Generation Victor Reader Stream is smaller and smarter than its predecessor with new wireless capabilities that will open up the world to the blind and visually impaired. With the new Stream you can receive content from books and newspapers to podcasts and radio. It features a louder speaker, superior text to speech and improved recording. The high contrast tactile keypad and popular Victor Reader bookshelf navigation makes this the easiest to use hand-held player on the market. This new model has been designed to be user friendly, compact and lightweight.

Plextalk Pocket Portable Daisy/MP3 Player: This convenient book reader and recorder does not only allow you to playback digital talking books or textbooks, but also to record lectures at school. With a quick key press when recording, you can insert headers and save precious time. Besides offering the ability to read digital talking books, the PLEXTALK Pocket, now has a wireless LAN capability, which enables you to download or stream Web Radio and Podcasts even when you are away from your computer. With Web Radio and Podcasts at your fingertips, you can listen to your favorite news programs and music channels wherever, whenever you want.

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