The Library as a Lifeline

Priscilla Perrotti portrait with hands folded, green bushes and tan wall behind her.

My eye doctor provided me with information about the Ohio Library for the Blind and Physically Disabled, and it’s meant a lot to me. I’ve always been an avid reader, and now I can listen to books, attend a monthly book club, and more.  —Priscilla Perrotti

How the Ohio Library for the Blind and Physically Disabled helps Ohioans of all abilities embrace their love of reading.


Several years ago, when Priscilla Perrotti’s eyesight began to falter, she knew living with vision impairment would present a number of challenges. Reading, she soon found, didn’t have to be one of them.

“When you start to lose your vision, it’s devastating,” she says. “You lose the ability to do a lot of things, like driving, so finding a way to continue reading is one less loss.”

Thanks to Cleveland Public Library’s Ohio Library for the Blind and Physically Disabled (OLBPD), Perrotti didn’t have to give up her love of books. While her reading method might have changed—she now listens to audiobooks, for example—she hasn’t had to give up this part of her life.

“I love to read. I can still remember getting my first library card—that was a big deal,” she says. “My eye doctor provided me with information about the Ohio Library for the Blind and Physically Disabled, and it’s meant a lot to me. I’ve always been an avid reader, and now I can listen to books, attend a monthly book club, and more.”

In partnership with the State Library of Ohio Talking Book Program, OLBPD serves as the Regional Library for the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) of the Library of Congress. OLBPD’s collection includes nearly 400,000 items, including audio materials, talking book players and accessories, and braille publications, which circulate to eligible borrowers throughout the state by postage-free mail. Approximately 15,000 Ohioans are served by OLBPD.

“Our services are for anyone who has a difficult time reading standard print—for example, those who are blind or visually impaired, those who cannot physically hold a book, those who are deaf and blind, or those who suffer from reading disabilities,” explains Will Reed, OLBPD Manager. “We serve the entire state of Ohio through this one location. Our bread and butter is talking books, which we’ve offered in evolving formats since 1931, but we’re also committed to braille literacy.”

In addition to maintaining a collection of materials and equipment for patrons, OLBPD encourages community building by running book clubs, hosting an annual Family Fun and Learning Day, and maintaining a sensory garden with plants selected for their unique textures and fragrances.

“Many of our patrons describe our offerings as a lifeline,” Reed says.

Perrotti agrees, adding that OLBPD’s materials and programs can help combat the sense of isolation some members of the disabled population might experience. In fact, Perrotti is so grateful for OLBPD that she became a volunteer. She assists the staff with mailings, book inspections, new patron kits, and more. She also does her best to spread the word about OLBPD to others who might make use of its services.

“I want people with vision impairment to know they can still read,” she says. “The process is just a little different.”

The Ohio Library for the Blind and Physically Disabled is located at 17121 Lake Shore Boulevard and is open Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm. Visit olbpd.cpl.org or call 216-623-2911 to learn more.