8 Years of GAAD and 35 Years of Technology Guides

Today is the 8th Annual Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD)!  The purpose of GAAD is to get everyone talking, thinking and learning about digital (web, software, mobile, etc.) access and inclusion for the more than one billion people on the planet with different disabilities.

Being a publisher of assistive technology guides for blind and visually impaired users written by blind and visually impaired authors, GAAD is a big deal to us.  Providing access to information is at the heart of National Braille Press’ mission, and these guides are an important part of that mission.  It turns out, they have been for a while.

2 NBP Published technology guides each with an illustration of a 1980's personal computer.
From the NBP Archive: copies of “The Second Beginners Guide to Personal Computers for the Blind and Visual Impaired” and “Add-Ons, The Ultimate Guide to Peripherals for the Blind Computer User.”  

 In 1984, National Braille Press published The Beginners Guide to Personal Computers for the Blind and Visually Impaired.   Once available in print, braille and cassette, this guide, and the subsequent Second Beginners Guide (1987), takes the reader through the speech software programs available for IBM and Apple computers.

Flash forward 35 years. We’ve replaced the cassettes with eBraille formats, and are more committed than ever to publishing timely guides written by blind assistive technology experts for blind and visually impaired users.  With topics covering everything from IOS to the Google Suite and dating apps, our goal is to provide instructional and practical information that helps blind and visually impaired consumers become proficient users of some of the most popular technologies and devices that support our modern lives.

Click here to check out the available technology titles in our bookstore.

To learn more about GAAD and how you can join the conversation click this link.

Here’s the Team NBP Boston Marathon recap.

Erin Connors hugging NBP's VP of Development, Joe Quintanilla at mile 24 of the Boston Marathon.
Erin Connors making a quick stop at mile 24 to give NBP’s Joe Quintanilla a hug.

They trained. They ran. They conquered.

Another Boston Marathon is in the books, and we couldn’t be prouder of the two National Braille Press runners. Collectively these two athletes have raised over $27,000 for braille literacy. 

Boston resident, Erin Connors, signed up to run for team NBP back in 2013, and was stopped by the SWAT team with a half mile to go after the bombing.  On Monday, she came back to cross the finish line, despite waking up with the flu that morning.  Not only did she complete the marathon this year, she has set out to beat the current NBP Boston Marathon runner fundraising record of $18,600!

With Boston as the final race needed to complete each of the Worlds Marathon Majors, William Flynn finished with his best time yet.  William has run the Chicago, New York, Berlin, Tokyo and London Marathons.  With Boston checked off the list, he is one of handful of people in the world to complete all six.  Just as thrilling as that accomplishment is, this son of a braille transcriber is equally thrilled to have raised more than $10,000 so that more blind children have books to read!

William Flynn smiling for the camera at mile 24 during the 2019 Boston Marathon
William Flynn smiling for the camera at mile 24 during the Boston Marathon.

We are so grateful to these two individuals, who like us, believe that blind children and adults should have access to the printed word.

We’d also like to thank the John Hancock Non-Profit Program for providing National Braille Press with their bib numbers and our team sponsors, Bellwether Edge, Gainz Bakery Cafe and Two Little Owls Schoolhouse.

If you’d like to donate to team NBP, click this link:  http://bit.ly/2Xmm221

To return to the National Braille Press homepage click here

Announcing the 2019 Touch of Genius Prize Winners

There are two Touch of Genius Prize winners this year!

Canute – Bristol Braille Technologies – won $5000
The Canute is a 360 cell braille display, with 9 rows of 40 cells developed by Bristol Braille Technologies in the UK. The Canute will be the first affordable multi-line display on the market. Targeted toward education settings and libraries, and looking toward areas of math, science, coding and music, the Canute has endured many iterations and been a cooperative experience between braille readers across the world. This “kindle for the blind” is surely be an innovative game-changer and will only push forward braille literacy. 
http://www.bristolbraille.co.uk/

Braille Sheets – ObjectiveEd– won $5000
Braille Sheets is an interactive app to help children learn to read braille developed by ObjectiveEd. ObjectiveEd’s mission is to help children with visual impairments maximize educational results. The app makes it easy to enter programs/lessons for students, see lessons from other teachers, and pair with an actual braille sheet where the student is tactile-y learning letters and words as they are getting real-time audio feedback. A collection of lessons and games, Braille Sheets will be a great supplement for teachers and an easy, affordable way to help students learn braille and become literate. 
https://www.objectiveed.com/

NBP awarded the Touch of Genius prize to the winners at the CSUN Assistive Technology Conference on Wednesday, March 17th.

Image on left: Brian MacDonald (NBP) with Marty Shutz of ObjectiveEd at TOG reception. Image on right: MacDonald with Ed Rogers of Bristol Braille at TOG reception.

The Touch of Genius Prize is made possible by the support of the Gibney Family Foundation! Thank you!

Learn More about touch of genius prize here
National Braille Press Logo (take me back to nbp.org)
Take me back to nbp.org!



The Anatomy of a Free ReadBooks! Bag

by Kesel Wilson, Editor and Programs Manager

“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.”
―Frederick Douglass

How often do you come across something that is both free and of tremendous value? How often does everything you need to begin a challenging journey come in a single free bag? How often do you find resources created specifically for you by an organization with 90 years of experience? If you answered “Not often” to any of these questions, you probably aren’t aware of our ReadBooks! childrens’ braille literacy program.

Since we began this program in 2003, we have sent free bags of beginning braille materials to over 17,000 parents and teachers of the blind and visually impaired all across the United States and Canada. We believe passionately that literacy is the foundation of education, independence, self-expression, privacy, lifelong learning, and success in the workplace. Our ReadBooks! bags are designed to give caregivers and teachers the knowledge and resources needed to start children on a path of early braille literacy and they are 100% free. Let me take you on a quick tour of the bags and their contents:

We have 3 different bags, for 3 different age levels, and the bags come in both English and Spanish versions:

  • A red bag is for ages 0 to 3;
  • A blue bag is for ages 4 to 5;
  • And a green bag is for ages 6 to 7.

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Blue ReadBooks! bag with below contents inside

Every bag has:

  • A welcome letter from our president, Brian Mac Donald
  • An order form for a free book for called “Just Enough to Know Better.” This book will help you learn “just enough” braille to help your child learn it too.
  • A sign-up sheet for our Children’s Braille Book Club—a low cost subscription program featuring a new print/braille book every month.
  • A flyer about our Great Expectations program—a program that brings picture books to life for blind children with picture descriptions and free online activities.
  • Our most recent catalog, so you can be up to date on all of our newest braille books.
  • A braille alphabet card, so you can learn the braille symbol for each letter of the alphabet.
  • A Happy Birthday coupon, which can be redeemed for a free braille children’s book.
  • A caravan block, which is a fun, tactile block for practicing your braille alphabet.
  • A “Because Books Matter” pamphlet to help you understand why braille is so important to literacy and independence.
  • A “Because Pictures Matter” pamphlet which explains how and why to introduce your child to tactile graphics.

The other items in the bag vary according to the age level of the bag, but each bag has:

  • A print/braille picture book for practicing beginning reading with braille;
  • A tactile graphic for exploring non-textual information through touch;
  • And a tactile manipulative, such as a sensory ball or Wikki Stix—to experiment with tactile play.

I encourage you to take advantage of this free resource! You can order your bags directly from our website at https://www.nbp.org/ic/nbp/programs/readbooks/readbooks.html

The Road from Princeton to Boston: The Princeton Braillists and an Enduring Legacy

Four colossal bookcases. Seven thermoform machines, five binding machines, and two light projectors. Twenty boxes bursting with aluminum tactile graphics ranging from fungi to fish, electricity to elements, geomorphology to geometry, mitosis to moon phases. And the pièce de résistance: 40 volumes amounting to 2,177 pages of the most comprehensive maps available in a tactile format.

Four decades of thoughtful devotion have been poured into the compendium that is The Princeton Braillists’ collection. Beginning in 1965, armed with a background in Experimental Physics and a penchant for handicrafts, Nancy Amick created tactile images to accompany audio texts for Recording for the Blind in Princeton. Drawing on her childhood experience with copper embossing, Nancy generated textures, patterns and lines in sheets of flexible aluminum, designing hundreds of diagrams for math and science textbooks, and simultaneously developing novel techniques to become an expert in the field of tactile graphics.

snail

In 1980, after Recording for the Blind shifted  its company focus, Nancy and Ruth Bogia, a certified braille transcriber, resurrected a dormant non-profit: The Princeton Braillists. Their first tactile volume, “Basic Human Anatomy,” was released in 1988, and eight years later they advertised their first set of tactile maps: “Maps of North and South America”. The all-volunteer operation expanded to include Fran Gasman, a transcriber for the New Jersey Commission, Phyllis Branin, who assisted in assembly, and Nancy’s family, including her husband Jim and daughter D’Maris. By 2016, The Princeton Braillists had created 35 books covering Europe, Asia, Africa, North and South America, as well as 18 U.S. states, along the way receiving wide acclaim and awards for their tactile contributions to the blind community.

lobsta

Nancy passed in the fall of 2016, and her family continued to fill orders while searching for a new home for the entire collection. Jim and D’Maris toured NBP in February 2017. By May, three National Braille Press team members were in a 15-foot truck bound for Princeton, NJ, charged with the careful transfer of Nancy’s work.

National Braille Press was honored to accept the generous gift of The Princeton Braillists’ celebrated tactiles, and has embraced the opportunity to continue Nancy’s legacy. Our hope is to maintain and reproduce the current catalogue while investigating ways to update geographical information, recode for Unified English Braille, and create new volumes of additional countries and states. We also aim to showcase the extensive collection of math and science diagrams from Nancy’s early years, sharing the delightful breadth of her images from beginning to end.

Learn more about The Princeton Braillists at NBP’s Annual Meeting, June 20th.