Currency readers available for Michiganders who are blind or visually impaired

Michiganders who are blind or visually impaired can now apply to receive an audible currency reader at no cost through the Michigan Braille and Talking Book Library.

“It's a pretty big deal because it allows people to handle their bills without needing someone else to show them what is there,” says Sax Mahoney, the lead librarian for Muskegon Area District Library for the Visually and Physically Disabled. 

The currency reader, called the iBill Talking Banknote Identifier, is a small, handheld device that quickly identifies the bill’s denomination in three ways: a clear, natural voice; a pattern of tones; or a pattern of vibrations for privacy. The currency reader identifies all U.S. currency in circulation, including $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 denominations.

“All you have to do is insert the bill into the device. It's about the size of your car key fob. And it will either tell you out loud or give you a certain number of vibrations to tell you the denomination of the bill,” says Mahoney.

Available through the mail

They say the process for requesting the reader is simple, and the devices provided through the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing usually are mailed to the recipient. Applicants have the option to come to the library for training if needed.

If applicants are not part of the Talking Books program, part of the Library of Congress, they may need to show they qualify for the program with a note from a nurse, doctor, or social worker confirming their visual impairment.

“Audible currency readers are invaluable to individuals who cannot read the denominations on paper money,” says William Robinson, director of the Bureau of Services for Blind Persons. “Working in partnership with the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Bureau of Engraving and Printing, we will be able to distribute currency readers to eligible citizens, expanding the services and resources we provide to support blind and visually impaired Michiganders.”

The iBill Talking Banknote Identifier will indicate the bill's denomination in one of three ways: a clear, natural voice; a pattern of tones; or a pattern of vibrations for privacy.

The Bureau of Services for Blind Persons, within the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity’s Office of Employment and Training, assists Michiganders who are blind or visually impaired by facilitating a variety of services and resources, including the Michigan Braille and Talking Book Library. Library staff will help eligible patrons complete currency reader applications and provide demonstrations and answer questions on how the devices work.

Simple application process

The Braille and Talking Book Library offers many services, including braille and audio books, to individuals who are unable to use standard print materials. A part of the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled, the library and its network of Advisory and Outreach Centers offer access to more than 23,000 braille and 100,000 audio book titles.

Those interested in applying for a currency reader should contact the library by calling 1-800-992-9012, or by emailing [email protected]

“Our goal is to make the application process as easy as possible for the people we serve,” says Braille and Talking Book Library Manager Scott Norris. “Our staff will answer any questions a caller may have and fill out the currency reader application for eligible library patrons while they’re on the phone – and the currency reader will go out in the mail the next business day.”

Visit Michigan.gov/BTBL to learn more about the Braille and Talking Book Library. For more information on the Bureau of Services for Blind Persons, visit Michigan.gov/BSBP.

There are a dozen Talking Book libraries in Michigan:

Muskegon Area District Library for the Visually and Physically Disabled
4845 Airline Road, Ste 5
Muskegon, MI, 49444-4563
Librarian: Sax Mahoney
Library Code: MI1K
Telephone: 231-737-6310
Toll-free (In-state): 877-569-4801
FAX: 231-737-6307
E-mail: [email protected]
Web site: http://www.madl.org 
External
Serves: Muskegon and Ottawa counties

Regional Library
Michigan Braille and Talking Book Library
702 W. Kalamazoo Street
P.O. Box 30007
Lansing, MI, 48909-7507
Librarian: Scott Norris
Library Code: MI1A
Telephone: 517-284-2871
Toll-free (In-state): 800-992-9012
FAX: 517-284-2885
E-mail: [email protected]
Web site: http://www.michigan.gov/btbl 
External
Serves: Michigan

KDL Talking Book and Braille Center
814 West River Center Drive NE
Comstock Park, MI, 49321
Librarian: Michelle Roossien
Library Code: MI1G
Telephone: 616-784-2007
Toll-free (In-state): 877-243-2466
E-mail: [email protected]
Web site: http://www.kdl.org/services/tbbc 
External
Serves: Ionia, Kent, and Montcalm counties

Advisory and Outreach Center
Washtenaw Library for the Blind & Print Disabled @ Ann Arbor District Library
343 S. Fifth Ave.
Ann Arbor, MI, 48104
Librarian: Sherlonya Turner
Library Code: MI1B
Telephone: (734) 327-4224
FAX: (734) 327-8307
E-mail: [email protected]
Web site: http://wlbpd.aadl.org 
External
Serves: Washtenaw County

Great Lakes Talking Books Reader Advisory and Outreach Center
1615 Presque Isle Avenue
Marquette, MI, 49855-2811
Librarian: Dillon Geshel
Library Code: MI1D
Telephone: (906) 228-7697
Toll-free (In-state): (800) 562-8985
FAX: (906) 228-5627
E-mail: [email protected]
Web site: https://greatlakestalkingbooks.org/ 
External
Serves: 15 counties in the Upper Peninsula, Alpena County, Crawford County

Oakland Talking Book Service @ RHPL
500 Olde Towne Road
Rochester, MI, 48307-2043
Librarian: Alice Cruz
Library Code: MI1E
Telephone: (248) 650-5681
Toll-free (In-state): (800) 774-4542
FAX: (248) 650-7121
E-mail: [email protected]
Web site: http://otbs.rhpl.org 
External
Serves: Oakland County

Genesee District Library Talking Book Center 
4195 West Pasadena Avenue
Flint, MI, 48504-2344
Librarian: Jason Bias
Library Code: MI1F
Telephone: (810) 732-1120
Toll-free (In-state): (866) 732-1120
FAX: (810) 732-1161
E-mail: [email protected]
Web site: https://www.thegdl.org/services/talking-book-center 
External
Serves: Genesee County


Traverse Area District Library Advisory and Outreach Center
610 Woodmere Avenue
Traverse City, MI, 49686-3397
Librarian: Anita Chouinard
Library Code: MI1H
Telephone: (231) 932-8558
Toll-free (In-state): (877) 931-8558
E-mail: [email protected]
Web site: http://www.tadl.org/tbl 
External
Serves: Antrim, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Leelanau, Manistee, Missaukee, and Wexford counties

St. Clair County Library for the Assistive Media and Talking Books (LAMTB)
210 McMorran Boulevard
Port Huron, MI, 48060-4014
Librarian: Mary Howard
Library Code: MI1I
Telephone: (810) 987-7323
Toll-free (In-state): (800) 272-8570
FAX: (810) 987-7326
E-mail: [email protected]
Web site: https://stclaircountylibrary.org/services/list/lamtb 
External
Serves: Huron, Sanilac, St. Clair, and Tuscola counties

Macomb Library for the Blind and Print Disabled
40900 Romeo Plank Road
Clinton Township, MI, 48038-2955
Librarian: Anne M. Mandel
Library Code: MI1M
Telephone: (586) 286-1580
Toll-free (In-state): (855) 203-5274
FAX: (586) 226-5008
E-mail: [email protected]
Web site: https://cmpl.org/mlbpd/ 
External
Serves: Macomb County

Braille and Talking Books @ Taylor Community Library
12303 Pardee Road
Taylor, MI, 48180
Librarian: Sarah Roe
Library Code: MI1N
Telephone: (734) 287-4840
Toll-free (In-state): (844) 307-1621
E-mail: [email protected]
Web site: https://taylor.lib.mi.us/btb 
External

Detroit Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped
Detroit Public Library, Frederick Douglass Branch for Specialized Services
3666 Grand River Avenue
Detroit, MI, 48208
Librarian: Regina Smith
Library Code: MI1O
Telephone: (313) 481-1702
FAX: (313) 833-4989
E-mail: [email protected]
Web site: http://www.detroitpubliclibrary.org/lbph/LBPH_index.htm 
External
Serves: Detroit and Highland Park (Wayne County)

This article is a part of the year-long series Disability Inclusion exploring the state of West Michigan’s growing disability community. The series is made possible through a partnership with Centers for Independent Living organizations across West Michigan.