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Marin Volunteer Devotes Years To Improving Life For Blind

KENTFIELD (CBS 5) - Elisabeth Scheibach's home office in Marin County looks like a mini museum of braille printers she's used over four decades.

"It's all mirror image," Scheibach explained, using a small stylus to demonstrate the process for embossing braille dots. It's a process she once found painstaking. But then she moved to the Perkins brailler, resembling a typewriter. Today, a computer makes her work faster.

As a volunteer, she's transcribed thousands of books into braille. It all started with a class at the College of Marin.

"I happened to see braille and said, 'Oh, that might be worthwhile,' doing something that does some good for somebody," she remembered.

Scheibach says she transcribed 35 pages flawlessly to earn her certification from the Library of Congress in 1969. Then she joined a Marin County volunteer transcribers group. Their work enables sightless people to read.

"I enjoy doing what I do," she said.

Scheibach transcribes braille at home, but once a week for the last 45 years, she's also volunteered at Guide Dogs for the Blind. She and her husband arrive faithfully every Thursday morning.

Her volunteer work at Guide Dogs began in 1966, when, as a widow and mother of three young children, she needed something to help her heart heal.

Scheibach explained, "It made me feel that I contributed something. I didn't sit at home and worry about what to do next."

Scheibach has poured her hands into office work - from alphabetizing to stuffing envelopes. She's transcribed pamphlets and newsletters into braille. Guide Dogs' volunteer manager Jennifer Bernstein admires her work ethic.

"She's never ever come with a bad attitude. She's never said, 'That's not my job.' Her approach is always 'Do it with a kind heart,'" Bernstein said.

Guide Dogs' Marketing Director Joanne Ritter added, "We look at a person-dog team. Person and guide dog model of interdependence. Teamwork. You don't go it alone. Elisabeth and Guide Dogs are a great team."

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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