The Story of APH

Engraving of the original APH buildingBefore the Civil War, a Louisville company was formed to provide products for people who are blind… Before airplanes… Before telephones… Before the Louisville Slugger® bat… Before the Kentucky Derby, there was the… American Printing House for the Blind.

APH's Mission

The American Printing House for the Blind promotes independence of blind and visually impaired persons by providing specialized materials, products, and services needed for education and life.

Brief Video About APH

APH makes thousands of products for students of all ages and for adults. This brief video touches on a few of the many ways that APH helps blind and visually impaired people achieve independence. The video is a part of the Celebrate Kentucky series produced by Insight Communications Commonwealth Network 2. Copyright 2012, CN2.

See this video on YouTube.

A Tradition of Service Since 1858

American Printing House for the Blind (APH) is the world's largest nonprofit organization creating educational, workplace, and independent living products and services for people who are blind and visually impaired.

Founded in 1858 in Louisville, Kentucky, APH is the oldest organization of its kind in the United States. From 1858 until the Civil War began, APH organized its operation and raised funds to create embossed books. After the war, APH resumed operations and produced its first tactile books. By the early 1870s, APH was operating on a national scale.

APH received a federal mandate in 1879 when the Congress of the United States passed the Act to Promote the Education of the Blind. This act designates APH as the official supplier of educational materials to all students in the U.S. who meet the definition of blindness and are working at less than college level.

Left: braille production in the 1930s.
Right: braille production in the 21st century

About APH's Products and Services

Publications In Accessible Formats

An APH narrator reading Newsweek in the APH recording studio

The American Printing House for the Blind manufactures textbooks and other educational publications for students who are visually impaired. APH also provides publications useful to adults, such as cookbooks and dictionaries. In addition, APH creates recorded books on a contract basis.

APH produces books in several accessible formats, including:

Educational and Independent Living Products

APH develops and manufactures hundreds of products, tools, and supplies that support students and adults who are visually impaired, helping them to increase their independence. Examples are:

Two Examples of APH's Many Services That Support Our Products

An APH staff member demonstrating APH's ENVISION kit

Product Training and Support

Through the National Instructional Partnerships, APH partners with organizations in the field of blindness to sponsor instruction in specific areas of blindness and visual impairment as they relate to the use of APH products.

Louis Database

APH provides Louis, a database that allows teachers, parents, and students to locate thousands of textbooks in braille, large print, recorded, and computer file formats available from producers across the United States.

Products and Services from APH

Products and services created by APH further the independence of people of all ages who are blind and visually impaired. These include:

Product Development

A teacher and student using a tactile teaching kit

The APH Research Department conducts ongoing product development activities in such areas as tactile graphics, braille reading readiness, and talking computer software. APH encourages anyone with an idea for a product useful to blind persons to submit it by phone or by completing a product idea form available on our website.

How You Can Help!

Donations to APH help provide thousands of people with such valuable services as braille and recorded Reader's Digest® and recorded Newsweek®. Donations are tax-deductible. Visit www.aph.org for donor information.

APH is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Reader's Digest is a trademark of The Reader's Digest Association. Newsweek is a trademark of Newsweek, Inc.

Come Visit APH!

Two Tours

Exhibit at the Museum of the American Printing House for the Blind

APH offers a guided tour of its plant and museum. Those who choose the Plant/Museum Tour will see how Talking Books and braille books are created, view demonstrations of educational products, and visit the APH Museum. These free tours are available at 10:00 am and 2:00 pm Monday through Thursday, except holidays, and are approximately one and a half hours.

Groups who want to focus on the historical and educational content of the museum may choose the Guided Museum Tour, available by appointment, Monday through Saturday.

Please make advance reservations for groups of 10 or more. Call 502-899-2242 to schedule.

Multimedia Museum

The history of the education of people who are blind is presented in APH's unique multimedia museum. Artifacts, photos, and electronic displays introduce the history of tactile alphabets, the braillewriter, Talking Books, and much more. A feature exhibit celebrating the 150th anniversary of the company opened in 2008. All displays are accessible to people who are blind or visually impaired.

The free museum is open from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm Eastern Time Monday through Friday, except holidays, and 10:00 am to 3:00 pm on Saturdays.

The American Printing House for the Blind is located in the historic Louisville neighborhood known as Clifton. There is easy access via nearby I-64, I-65, and I-71.

Hall of Fame

Photo of a display in the Hall of Fame

Our profession's Hall of Fame for Leaders and Legends of the Blindness Field is housed at APH. The Hall honors those, such as Helen Keller, who have dedicated their lives to furthering the education and rehabilitation of people who are blind. This space includes plaques, artifacts, and interactive displays.

Visit APH to experience this unique Hall of Fame free-of-charge. Ask how you can support the Hall of Fame.


Louisville Slugger is a trademark of the Hillerich and Bradsby Co.

Visit Our House!