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Find out more about ABLE

Our Mission:

Providing alternative ways for people with print disabilities to read.

An historical photo of a woman typing on a Perkins Brailler in the 1960's

"How could we NOT just
plunge right in!"

Founding Member, Jean Atkinson,
on the creation of our organization.

Our History:

Audio & Braille Literacy Enhancement (ABLE) started out of a woman’s passion for helping blind children in school.  In the late fifties, Sr. Melmarie Stoll took six-year-old blind student, Lois Davis, into her classroom.  At that time there were no materials available in braille for her to teach with. 

Recognizing this need, a small group of trained braillists and braille students united to transcribe textbooks for the students in two Milwaukee area schools.  When it became evident that Wisconsin had no central transcription agency to serve the entire state, this group decided to expand services statewide and include taped and large print materials.

With no funds to seed such an operation, nine enthusiastic volunteers sought donations from friends, organizations, and corporations to purchase materials and equipment. By 1965, and under the name of Volunteer Services for the Visually Handicapped, the hard working group of 180 volunteers were serving all of Wisconsin and beyond.

After their initial fund raising efforts proved to be successful, the Milwaukee City Librarian assured this all-volunteer group that they would have permanent quarters in the Downtown Central Library building, next to the Wisconsin Talking Book and Braille Library. Although still located within the Central Library, the organization became a separate 501(c)(3) nonprofit in 1988.

In 2008, the name was changed to Audio & Braille Literacy Enhancement, Inc. (ABLE) to better reflect the group's mission and services.

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