News Local/State

Blind, Visually Impaired Feeling Effects Of Government Shutdown


One group feeling the effects of the government shutdown is the blind and visually impaired.

Rebecca DeGeorge of Rantoul really loves books.

“I like mysteries. I don’t like gory, graphic ones. I like knitting books. Those are definitely a braille thing,” DeGeorge said.

DeGeorge is blind, and relies on the Library of Congress’ National Library Service, where she can download braille and audio titles. She said she was frustrated to learn this week that the site was taken offline because of the government shutdown

“You know, it’s like if you were somewhere and they said, ‘Sorry, all your books are locked up in a glass case and you can’t get at them,’” she explained. “How would you feel?”

Kathryn Patrick works at the Illinois Talking Book Outreach Center in Burr Ridge, Ill., which provides books to anyone unable to physically read regular print material. Knowing full well that the Library of Congress’ website could go dark, she said her patrons prepared for the government shutdown.

“They did stock up on books so to speak,” Patrick said. “They downloaded as many as they could in the days and hours before the shutdown, even the morning of.”

Preparation, she said, that can only hold many people for a short time.