Advocate seeks new school for blind children

Braille Center director hopes to find a building in Edmonds

By JANICE PODSADA

Herald Writer

EDMONDS — To a one, the occupants of the crowded lobby turned away from the blind woman as if she weren’t there.

Lost, she had wandered into the wrong building. When she asked for help, her plea was met with silence.

Carolyn Meyer, in the crowd that day, did not turn away, but offered the woman her arm and escorted to her destination, a half-block away in downtown Seattle.

Meyer never asked the woman’s name and never saw her again. But a blind woman’s wrong turn steered Meyer in a new direction.

Then and there, she decided her life’s work was helping visually impaired people.

"It was just a noon hour, and my whole life changed," said Meyer, director of the 10-year-old Louis Braille Center in Edmonds. "I took action."

Soon after, Meyer founded the center, which transcribes books into Braille for more than 800 clients worldwide.

Now, Meyer is asking for help.

By September 2001, she hopes to open the Louis Braille School, a state-approved private day school intended to serve about a dozen visually impaired students from kindergarten through sixth grade.

But first, she needs to find the school a home.

"A large house would do, or a cozy building," said Meyer, a small, spirited woman who is fluent in two alphabets, one whose letters she recognizes by sight and the other by touch.

The school also needs space for a playground, with enough room for a track.

"We’ll put in guide rails, so the kids can run," she said resolutely.

Meyer hopes someone will recommend a house or building in the Edmonds area that the center can lease or buy.

Edmonds is a desirable location, Meyer said.

Its downtown restaurants carry Braille menus. The menus were the brainchild of the Edmonds Lions Club; the Braille transcription was the product of the center.

"I bring lots of clients to lunch," Meyer said. "They can sit down and be handed a menu they can read."

Tucked away in Edmonds, the nonprofit center provides the only Braille transcription service in Snohomish County.

About 20 people — 18 volunteers and two paid employees — transcribe printed material into Braille.

And it’s not just books that need transcribing.

Washington Mutual Bank uses the center’s services so customers can receive their bank statements or passbook in Braille.

Employers in need of Braille employee handbooks and hospitals in need of prescription information or post-surgical instructions use the center’s services.

Recently, the center has begun providing another service — fun.

In January, Meyer organized the Second Saturday Club for visually impaired children and their parents.

Field trips to the Edmonds beach, picnics, art projects and storytelling are some of the activities about 20 club members participate in monthly.

The group meets the second Saturday of each month from 10 a.m. to noon. Teacher Denise Mackenstadt, with the Northshore School District, and several assistants orchestrate the two-hour adventure.

After the Saturday Club’s inception, establishing a school seemed like a natural next step, Meyer said.

On a recent day, Meyer sat at a conference table sorting a stack of new Braille books.

Printed on card stock, the titles must be hand-assembled, bound and labeled.

"I am Rosa Parks," "Helen Keller: Courage in the Dark," "Marie Curie, Brave Scientist" — their textured pages awaited the fingertips of a child, eager to learn.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

A Mukilteo Speedway sign hangs at an intersection along the road on Sunday, April 21, 2024, in Mukilteo, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Long live the Speedway! Mukilteo’s main drag won’t be renamed

The public shot down the mayor’s idea to change the name: 77% voted ‘No’ in an online survey, with 95% opposed on Facebook.

Everett
Motorcyclist dies in crash on East Marine View Drive in Everett

Around 8 p.m. Tuesday, a motorcycle and a vehicle crashed into each other at the intersection of 11th street and East Marine View Drive.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Darrington in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Motorcyclist dies in crash on Highway 530

Jeremy Doyle, 46, was riding east near Darrington when he crashed into the side of a car that was turning left.

The Marysville School District office on Thursday, Aug. 31, 2023 in Marysville, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
‘Financially insolvent’ Marysville schools to get unprecedented oversight

Superintendent Chris Reykdal will convene a first-of-its-kind Financial Oversight Committee, he wrote in a letter Tuesday.

Woodside Elementary Principal Betty Cobbs on Monday, June 17, 2024 in Bothell, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Everett’s first Black principal retires after 51 years

In her office, Betty Cobbs kept a black-and-white photo of herself at age 5: “I am right there, with dreams of becoming an educator.”

Junelle Lewis, right, daughter Tamara Grigsby and son Jayden Hill sing “Lift Every Voice and Sing” during Monroe’s Juneteenth celebration on Saturday, June 18, 2022. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
On Juneteenth: ‘We can always say that there is hope’

The Snohomish County NAACP is co-sponsoring a celebration Saturday near Snohomish, with speakers, music and food.

36 hours after final show, Everett radio host Charlye Parker, 80, dies

When Parker got into radio, she was a rarity: a woman in a DJ booth. For the past 12 years, she hosted weekend country music shows at KXA.

Dr. Scott Macfee and Dr. Daniel Goodman outside of the Community Health Center on Wednesday, June 12, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Everett CHC doctors, feeling like ‘commodities,’ speak up on ailing system

At the Community Health Center of Snohomish County, doctors say they feel like “rats getting off a sinking ship.” They want it to get better.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Mountlake Terrace in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Man charged with shooting at ex-girlfriend, child in Mountlake Terrace

The man, 21, showed up to his ex-girlfriend’s apartment and opened fire through the door, new court records say.

People walk along Olympic Avenue past Lifeway Cafe and Olympic Theater that currently hosts Lifeway Church on Friday, July 7, 2023 in Arlington, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Arlington churches waged covert ‘battle’ against Pride event, records show

Sermons, emails and interviews reveal how an LGBTQ+ nonprofit became the target of a covert campaign by local evangelical leaders.

Drive-in movies are coming to the north Island. (Port of Everett image)
Where to catch outdoor movies this summer in Snohomish County

Bring a chair, blanket and the kids for a cinema night under the stars with your favorite movies, including “Barbie” and “Trolls.”

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Monroe in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Roundabout construction may slow traffic around Monroe

A state project to put a roundabout on Highway 203 will close a heavily used intersection for days starting Friday.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.