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We offer tools and training for employment and for helping seniors remain independent and active. As Minnesota’s accessible reading source we also transcribe books and other materials into alternative formats, including audio and braille. We assist Minnesotans who are blind, DeafBlind, losing vision, or who have another disability that makes it difficult to read print.

We hope you find what you need here. We've also created a Tips for Using Our New Website page.

If you’d like to apply for services, learn more, or have more questions, just give us a call. You’ll find contact information for all of our offices on our contact page, or you can call our main office at 651-539-2300.

Thanks for visiting.

COVID-19 Updates

Stay at Home Updates

First, we hope that you are healthy and safe. These are challenging times for all of us, and focusing on health and safety is what matters most. As you know, in order to provide for the safety of Minnesotans, and to ensure that those on the front lines get the equipment and supplies they need, Governor Walz has issued a stay at home order. We’re writing to let you know about how this will effect our operations and services here at SSB, to let you know the best ways to be in touch with our staff, and to offer some resources that may be helpful. Download our updates.

Families with Seniors Losing Vision - How to Help

During these times, we know that many families have limited contact with senior family members or friends who are adjusting to vision loss and coping with the added complications presented by restrictions related to stemming the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Learn more about what we're doing and what you can do.

SSB Not Accepting New Volunteers at This Time

For the health and safety of our staff, customers, and current volunteers, we are unable to accept new volunteers at this time and are not processing applications. We remain extremely grateful for your interest, and look forward to receiving your application at a later time.

Upcoming Events/News

Looking for Peer Educators

SSB is offering a paid work-based learning experience as a peer educator. This is a leadership opportunity in which you can help other students grow, develop skills, and build their lives. Much if not all of the work will be done virtually. Students ages 14-21 who are in an education program (such as high school or college) are encouraged to apply. Email sheila.koenig@state.mn.us for more details.

Remembrance: Sally Ankeny Anson

sally-ansonWith sadness, State Services for the Blind marks the passing of Sally Ankeny Anson, who, while carrying out the legacy of her family, helped shape and strengthen the work of our Communication Center. "Sally always cared about excellence, and making sure we were meeting the needs of consumers in the best possible way," said SSB Director Natasha Jerde, "She could be counted on to ask good questions and offer thoughtful advice. She will be greatly missed here, and we extend our deepest sympathy to her family."

"The partnership established between Sally's family, through the Hamm Family Foundation and the Communication Center back in the early '50s was truly revolutionary," said Angela Bodensteiner, SSB's Development Director, "They made it possible for blind Minnesotans to have access to current books and magazines, and to have recorded the specific textbooks and other materials they needed for school, work and life. This put the blind consumer at the center."

"Later," Angela continued, "Through a unique partnership between Minnesota Public Radio, the Hamm family, and the Communication Center, we launched Minnesota's Radio Talking Book, the first-of-its-kind radio reading service."

Sally, an active member of the Communication Center Advisory Board for many years, carried on her families commitment to making print accessible to blind, DeafBlind, visually impaired Minnesotans, and Minnesotans with other print related disabilities. Just this year, SSB launched the Minnesota Radio Talking Book app for iOS and Android, and a RTB skill for Amazon devices. "In keeping with the vision of the Hamm family and those early Communication Center pioneers, we're joining RTB with mobile technology, and keeping up with the needs and preferences of our consumers," said Director Jerde.

Sally Anson died peacefully in Minneapolis on April 30, 2020 at age 89. A full obituary, with more details of her remarkable life, can be found in the StarTribune.

"Even as we mourn her loss," Director Jerde said, "We will proudly carry out the vision of full and equal access that her family began, and that she so faithfully continued."

RTB on Alexa-Enabled Devices

Do you have an Amazon smart speaker like an Amazon Echo or Dot? Now you can listen to Radio Talking Book, just by saying, “Alexa, play Radio Talking Book!”

It’s that simple. You’ll have access to 24-7 programming, including news, fiction and nonfiction books, magazines, and other programming. This new way of accessing Radio Talking Book is available on any Alexa-enabled device.

Learn how to listen on Alexa!

New Virtual Series for Students

Level Up: Learning Self-Advocacy through Music, Movies, & More

SSB is excited to launch a new opportunity for students to connect with peers and learn about self-advocacy. On Thursday, April 16 at 7:00 p.m. we will begin our series "Level Up: Learning Self-Advocacy through Music, Movies, & More." Most of us learned about self-advocacy the hard way- through difficult experiences and personal set-backs. Here’s a chance to learn about self-advocacy the fun way. We’ll draw on movie clips, songs, and lots more to demonstrate, in an engaging way, the tools people use to take control of their futures.

This is an 8-week phone/virtual series. Topics include self-determination, positive self-talk, motivation, problem-solving, and more. This is a free series open to students in high school with a vision loss. Students do not need to be connected to SSB to participate.

In order to get call-in information, students should send an email to Sheila Koenig.

Join us for this creative and interactive workshop series that will help you learn to "Level Up" to your best self.

Learn About the Census and Commit to Be Counted

We Count. Minnesota is a collaboration of businesses, governments, non-profits, and community groups across the state. Its aim is to support a fair and accurate 2020 Census by educating Minnesotans about the importance of the census and promoting their participation in it. Full participation in the upcoming 2020 Census - making sure everyone is counted - will provide our communities with vital information about who we are and what we need. All of us must come together to ensure every Minnesotan counts. The data that will be collected by the 2020 Census are critical for counties and communities across our state. They will shape political representation, funding of government programs, the flow of business and commerce, and the planning and delivery of services to local communities. Historically, the census has missed certain groups - including young children, people of color, indigenous people, people with disabilities, and urban and rural low-income households - at disproportionately high rates. Being undercounted deprives communities of equal political representation and private and public resources. By signing this simple Commit to be Counted form you’ll get timely information about filling out your census form in the spring of 2020, and you’ll help build a strong Minnesota where everyone counts!

New Video Makes the Case for Digital Accessibility

A video produced by Minnesota’s Office of Accessibility shows how universal design has made life easier for everyone.Making sure that documents, websites, and other digital content is accessible also benefits many of us. Included are some helpful tips and resources.

What Would I Do, if I Couldn’t See?

Lots of us ask that question from time to time. The simple answer is that with a few new skills, you’d be going about your everyday life. Three short videos showcase Minnesotans who are blind, losing vision, or DeafBlind, doing just that.

"How Could I do This Job If I Can't See" (audio described) shows Minnesotans using high tech and low tech solutions at work. It’s a nice introduction for hiring managers who might be wondering if an applicant who is blind, low vision, or DeafBlind could indeed be the best person for a job.

"How Can I do It If I Can't See It" (audio described) speaks to the experience of seniors who are wondering how to live well with vision loss.

"How Can I Read It If I Can't See It" (audio described) is for everyone who loves reading and worries that vision loss, or another disability, might take away their ability to read. This video demonstrates how our Communication Center has become "Minnesota’s Accessible Reading Source."

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