Prison Braille Programs
t is estimated that there are about10 million blind and visually impairedpeople in the United States today, andthis number is growing. Medical advancesat both ends of the age spectrum haveinadvertently resulted in an increasedincidence of blindness. Premature babies arebeing saved but can face lifelong disabilities,including visual impairments. Older adultsare living longer and many developdegenerative eye diseases.According to a 2002 report by PreventBlindness America and the National EyeInstitute of the National Institutes for Health,many more Americans are facing blindnesstoday than ever before. The number of blindpeople in the U.S. is expected to double overthe next 30 years as the baby boomergeneration ages.
The U.S. Department of Education currentlyserves approximately 94,000 blind andvisually impaired students (K-12) across thecountry through special education programs.In 2002, the American Printing House for theBlind (APH) registered 57,148 blind orvisually impaired students eligible to receiveadapted educational materials through theAPH Federal Quota Program.Unfortunately, current braille productioncapability in the U.S. is unable to keep pacewith the increasing demand for braille.Historically, the majority of brailletranscription has been provided byvolunteers — usually parents of blindchildren. This generation of volunteers isquickly disappearing.There has also been a significant shift in theeducational environment of blind studentsover the past few decades. While the vastmajority of blind students were educated inresidential schools prior to the 1960s, theinclusion of students with disabilities in theregular classroom has reversed this trend.Today, about 90% of blind students areeducated in their local schools.
Since the number of blind and visually impaired students attending local schools has increased significantly in recent years, there is a growing demand for more braille textbooktitles in all subjects.
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Increasing Need for Braille
“Vision Problems in the U.S.: Prevalence of Adult Vision Impairment and Age-Related Eye Disease in America,” Prevent Blindness America andthe National Eye Institute (2002). Access through www.preventblindness.org and www.nei.nih.gov/eyedata.