Announcing the Helen B. Blumenthal Fund for Braille Services
The Lighthouse for the Blind is proud to announce the creation of the Helen B. Blumenthal Fund for Braille Services. Gifts to this special endowment fund will remain intact while the interest accrued will be used to cover the costs of providing Braille equipment, materials, and classes.
“In the case of our mission, creating opportunities for blind people to live independently, Braille literacy is one of the most important aspects needed for true independence,” says Kirk Adams, general manager of administration. “The Lighthouse is committed to providing employees with all information in accessible formats. That means translating things like pay-stubs, employee handbooks, benefits and pension information, and meeting agendas into Braille. This is an ongoing need and a fairly expensive accommodation. With the creation of the Helen B. Blumenthal Fund for Braille Services, we will be able to build an endowment fund to ensure employees receive information in Braille in the future.”
The fund is named after Helen Berkman Blumenthal, a Seattle activist dedicated to creating programs, supports, and services for blind people. Helen first became interested in blindness-related issues when she met Rabbi Michael Aaronsohn through her work at the Sisterhood of Temple de Hirsch in Seattle. Rabbi Aaronsohn, who was blind, encouraged Helen to learn Braille. Helen soon formed a committee to translate books and articles into Braille for blind students attending the University of Washington. In the early years, Helen transcribed books “one punch at a time” using the slate and stylus method of Brailling.
“I can just remember ever since I was little my mother doing the Braille on the [slate with a stylus]. In fact, she’d even be sitting up in bed doing it,” recalls Helen’s daughter, Carolyn Danz, who is a long-time community activist and Lighthouse-supporter in her own right. Helen taught Carolyn and her friends how to transcribe Braille as well. “I started transcribing the Braille myself when I was twelve,” she says.
Helen later purchased the first Braille typewriter and helped to form the Library for the Blind, which became the modern day Washington Talking Book and Braille Library. Helen helped form Community Services for the Blind and went on to serve on the Lighthouse board for forty years, after which time she was named an honorary board member.
Because of her outstanding support to people with visual disabilities and her pioneering work in Braille transcription, the Lighthouse has named its endowment fund for Braille services after Helen Blumenthal. This fund will continue her legacy of ensuring that blind and Deaf-Blind people have complete access to Braille education and materials.
“Mother would be very proud, and she’s very deserving. She gave a lot of her life to do this. She did it because she wanted to and loved it,” Carolyn says. “My mother’s descendants have been very proud of the whole thing. I think that it’s a wonderful thing.”
“One of the best things about the Seattle Lighthouse for the Blind Foundation Endowment Fund from a donor perspective is that donors can create individual funds that are named for loved ones or set aside to fund specific programs,” Kirk asserts. “Anyone who is interested in supporting Braille literacy and access to information at the Lighthouse can make a gift to the Helen B. Blumenthal Fund for Braille Services where their gift will remain intact while the interest earned will be used to fund Braille services.”
To make a donation to the Helen B. Blumenthal Fund for Braille Services, please contact Kirk Adams, general manager of administration, at 206-436-2110 or email email@example.com
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