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Virginia library for the blind is a 'hidden gem'

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Posted at 12:35 PM, Aug 13, 2021

RICHMOND, Va. -- Melody Roane’s approach to life is never off-key.

“I remember taking art lessons. I do remember that,” said Melody.

The woman from Richmond lives every day to the fullest.

“I do a lot. I do,” she said.

Melody always looks on the bright side, despite living in darkness.

“I’ve been blind since I was eight years old,” said Melody.

Optic Neuritis robbed her of sight.

“It is an inflammation of the optic nerves,” explained Melody. “They have no idea how it happened.”

Going blind had its challenges.

“All of a sudden, my vision started going up and down and up and down, and I couldn't see the person in front of me,” recalled Melody.

But the married native of Florida has adapted and thrived for 44 years.

“I don’t know if there are things I miss because I can still visualize things,” said Melody.

Along the way, the 52-year-old has leaned on others for help.

At the Braille Circulating Library for the Blind, the world opens up through her fingertips.

“I would say this is one of Richmond’s hidden gems,” said Melody.

The library on Stuart Avenue in The Fan was the vision of Louise Harrison McCraw.

“It has been in the community long before you and I have been here. It was founded in 1925,” said Melody.

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96 years later, the library offers thousands of spiritual and Christian titles.

“Individuals can get material on tape or in braille,” Melody said.

She isn’t just a patron. She serves on the library’s board of directors.

“I like biographies. I like fiction. Fiction is what I like a lot now,” said Melody.

The library is working on expanding and offering its selections online.

“I think more people should get to know this library,” said Melody.

Since birth, Eric Jackson, legally blind, has relied on the Braille Circulating Library for 30 years.

“They send me books every month,” said Eric. “I try to listen to each one. I love it.”

Navigating blindness can be daunting. But Melody believes with the right attitude and a little help along the way, and you can turn the page and write your own ending.

“Braille shows you the nuances of how language is written,” explained Melody. “My advice is there is life with blindness. I would say that it is normal going blind. But what I tell people is to go through it. Don’t stay in it. If you can talk to people who have been there, it really helps you get through it.”

The Braille Circulating Library for the Blind is always looking for volunteers and donations so they can provide this valuable service for another 100 years.

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Greg McQuade at WTVR first reported this story.