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Louise Duvall, President from 2006-2011


I graduated from the University of Iowa and attended graduate school at Drake University part-time while teaching high school social studies in the Exira Community High School.  In 1972, I began my career at the Iowa Commission for the Blind by being a reader and driver for blind staff and students.  In 1976, I was hired as a Rehabilitation Teacher, and later a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor.  I became the first Supervisor of the Independent Living Rehabilitation Program, and finished out my career as the Program Administrator in Charge of Field Operations.  Since my retirement, In 2006, encouraged by Karen Keninger, then Director of the Library, I worked with Peggy Chong, John Billingsley and Pat Smith to form The Friends of the Iowa Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.  I served as President until 2010 when health issues forced me to retire.

Patricia (Pat) Smith

Pat Smith - President from 2010- 2012; Vice President -2013 - passed away 11/30/2014-May she rest in peace.

I began to work with the Library in 1972 after my son became blind following surgery for a brain tumor below his optic nerve. His teacher contacted the Library for the Blind and another teacher who knew Braille was sent to teach him Braille.

This teacher knew that I was interested in helping my son, and in the spring of 1972, she invited me to the Transcriber’s Workshop at the Iowa Library for the Blind. At the workshop, I learned that Braille instructors were needed and by the fall, I had sent in my manuscript and was certified as a Braille Transcriber. I knew that textbooks were important, and my first assignment was part of a 3rd and 4th grade math book. I have done many other things, but over time, my main Braille work has been textbook math.

 In 1975, I became the Braillist for Heartland Area Education Agency, one of the first paid Braillists in the state. I learned to Braille on a Braille writer and used one for ten years, before computer programs became available. Now I use the computer, but I still have my Braille writer.

Peggy Chong

Peggy Chong, The Blind History Lady

Peggy Chong, The Blind History Lady

Peggy Chong, one of the original founders of The Friends of the Iowa Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, served in numerous roles on The Friends Board. She and her husband, Curtis, who worked at the Department for the Blind heading up its technical efforts, moved to Albuquerque, NM, where Peggy seriously began her writing career. You can find her books, The Blind History Lady series, at