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Prison Braille Programs - The Inside Scoop

Prison Braille Programs - The Inside Scoop

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Published by MBTF

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Published by: MBTF on May 14, 2008
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Summer 2003
Key Challenges
Inmate Transcriber Profile
Rehabilitative Value
Employment After Prison
Joining the APH Prison Braille Network
Summer 2003
Prison Braille Programs
Page 2
There is a critical shortage of braille transcribersacross the U.S. today. Federal law mandates that all students have access to appropriateeducational materials. However, for students whoare blind this is not always possible. The timeand expense involved in braille production, thelevel of expertise needed to produce quality textbooks, and the transcriber shortage combineto create serious challenges for braille suppliers. A concerted nationwide effort is being madethroughout the field of blindness to ensurethat blind students receive their textbooksat the same time as their sighted peers.Prison braille programs are offering part of the solution through the creation of unique partnerships between corrections facilities and braille providers.We are just beginning to learn about prisonbraille programs across the country, and thisreport shares initial information gathered. It  provides a “snapshot” of programs identified through an APH survey conducted in 2002, and is no doubt incomplete. If you know of braille production programs in corrections facilities that are not included in this report, please contact uswith that information. Perhaps this report will bethe first chapter of many.
Education Reduces Crime, Three State Recidivism Study – Executive Summary, Correctional Education Association (CEA) and Management& Training Corporation Institute (MTCI) (February 2003). Complete study can be accessed at www.ceanational.org.
Nancy Lacewell
Director of Government and Community Affairs American Printing House for the Blind nmates across the country are learning to produce braille materials for peoplewho are blind.This unique educational and training opportunity  provides inmates with job skills and problem- solving experience, preparing them for useful employment upon reentry into society. Their timeis spent productively, they give back to society for the crimes they have committed, and opportunities for future employment are created that many never imagined possible. Researchindicates that simply because the inmates areinvolved in education and vocational training while incarcerated, the likelihood that they will return to prison once released is reduced.
Most importantly, inmates are providing quality braille materials for people who need them — particularly for students who are blind.
Prison Braille Programs
Page 3
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.
continued on page 4
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.

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