A message from Richard Sorey, Director of the Iowa Department for the Blind:
"I was saddened to hear of the passing of Dorothy Kirsner this week, a woman closely involved with the progress of the Iowa Department for the Blind for many years. Instrumental in bringing Kenneth Jernigan to Iowa, she made a monumental contribution to the development of the programs of our department through her work as a Braille transcriptionist, board member of the Iowa Commission for the Blind, and champion of the Iowa Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. Her presence at the 100th Anniversary of the IDB Building celebration last year made that special occasion especially meaningful. I would like to express our gratitude for all her contributions and extend the department's heartfelt condolences to her family."
In tribute to Dorothy we would like to share an update of an article about her that first appeared in Legacy, the department's annual report for the year 2000, that well sums up her many achievements.
“It is always surprising how small a part of life is taken up by meaningful moments. Most often they are over before they start, even though they cast a light on the future, and make the person who originates them unforgettable.” These words, taken from Elizabeth Hand’s Anna And The King, are a most fitting description of Dorothy Kirsner’s lasting impact on the Iowa Department for the Blind.
Dorothy’s association with blindness began with her study of Braille. She was a member of the Temple Sisterhood, a group of Des Moines women who transcribed print books into Braille.
Among her assignments was the Brailling of a college survey of English literature for a Californian named Kenneth Jernigan. Jernigan stopped in Des Moines to thank the volunteers for all their work. Dorothy, a member of the appointed Iowa Commission for the Blind overseeing what is now the Iowa Department for the Blind, was so impressed by him that she encouraged him to apply for the vacant Director’s position. He did so successfully. The coming together of the man and the institution in 1958, born of Dorothy Kirsner’s bridging talent and need, forever altered the philosophy and delivery of services to blind Iowans.
Jernigan’s beliefs were radical for their time. His principles became those of the agency and remain the foundation of its services today. The programs of the Department are based on the belief that the real problems of blindness do not lie in the physical loss of eyesight but rather in the misconceptions about blindness held so widely by the general public and by many blind persons themselves. The Department contends that programs and services which enable blind persons to deal with problems arising from the physical loss of sight must be based on a belief in the competence of persons who happen to be blind.
Adopting this philosophy, Dorothy continued acting on behalf of blind Iowans in ways great and mundane. She served as a Commission member for many years of Jernigan’s directorship, working as hard as any full-time employee. She lobbied legislators tirelessly, most notably for funds to purchase the facility where the Department’s Des Moines staff and programs are still housed today. She was instrumental in bringing Library services for blind Iowans into the state and under the Department’s jurisdiction. She provided her silver tea service for social functions and coached students from the Adult Orientation and Adjustment Center in its proper use. She worked to improve services to blind children attending the Des Moines public schools. She was also an active board member and reader for the Iowa Radio-Reading Information Service for the Blind and Print Handicapped (IRIS).
Dorothy has said that, for all that has been accomplished in bringing blind persons to the forefront as capable, responsible, contributing members of society in the second half of the twentieth century, public education is still needed. People continue to fear blindness, and in so many day-to-day encounters, misconceptions about blindness persist. Nonetheless, she continued to work, person-by-person, issue-by-issue, service-by-service, to replace the old ideas with the understanding that it is, indeed, okay to be blind.
Have you ever thought you would be effective at mentoring or providing peer support to another Iowan who is blind or visually impaired? This just might be your chance. The Iowa Department for the Blind is looking for upbeat and positive individuals who can share a skill or technique, information, advice, resource, or maybe just an encouraging word with another blind person. All you are investing is your time.
If you are interested, please fill out the application form. This information will be used to build a mentoring and peer support database that staff will use to provide even better services to blind and visually impaired individuals. In order to participate, you will need to agree to a background check. You will also need to attend a training workshop that will be held at the Department on September 7, 2013 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Lunch will be provided.
Please contact Sandy Tigges at 515-281-1313 or Sandy.Tigges@blind.state.ia.us; or Rick Dressler at 515-281-1314 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions. Thank you for helping the Iowa Department for the Blind continue to provide topnotch services to Iowans with vision loss.
The NCLB exam will be given at the Iowa Department for the Blind, 524 4th Street, Des Moines from 9 am - 4:30 pm on June 15, 2013.
The deadline to apply is May 31, 2013. Apply Now.
The National Blindness Professional Certification Board (NBPCB) administers the National Certification in Literary Braille (NCLB) exam as a five-year renewable certification awarded to those who successfully pass all four sections of the exam. Although the test can be taken by anyone, it is intended primarily for teachers and future teachers of Braille.
Please check the NBPCB website at www.nbpcb.org/nclb for information on the material covered in the exam, a list of what to bring and what is prohibited, a sample test, study materials, description of common errors, accommodations, our policies on cancelling or stopping the test, and much more!
If you have any questions or need further information, the NBPCB can be reached at email@example.com.