APH Press Release

Donations Boost Program to Assist Former Inmates Who Embark on Careers in Braille Transcription

Louisville, KY (July 20, 2016) Donations from Genentech, Inc., Gheens Foundation, Jessie Ball duPont Fund, and philanthropist Jean Frazier have made it possible for the American Printing House for the Blind (APH) to develop a five-year plan assuring the Braille Transcriber Apprentice Program (BTAP) continues. BTAP assists former inmates who have earned braille certifications while incarcerated to transition into a career in braille transcription upon their release.

The BTAP Sustainability Plan will ensure future funding, partnerships, and increased capacity in the program. The Center for Nonprofit Excellence and the National Council on Crime and Delinquency assisted with development of the plan.

“APH is grateful to our donors,” said APH President Dr. Craig Meador, “Their generous support makes it possible for us to get more braille textbooks to students more quickly and to have a plan to assure that the program will continue into the future. This program helps to keep some of the most highly skilled transcribers doing what they do best, creating quality braille.”

Background: When American Printing House for the Blind started a Prison Braille program in 2000, it joined dozens of other organizations nation-wide that have programs to train inmates to transcribe textbooks and other documents from print or digital formats into braille. Since there was (and still is) a shortage of qualified transcribers, these programs add to the pool available. However, once the inmates are released, there are significant barriers to establishing successful careers as transcribers, such as the need for computer hardware and software, braille resource materials, and access to braille transcription work. The Prison Braille Apprentice Program (BTAP) was designed to help former inmates continue using the skills they learned while in prison. Two apprentices from the two-year pilot program have been so skilled and experienced that they have been offered full-time employment at APH. The success of the pilot program means that BTAP will continue to provide support for former inmates as they transition into a much-needed vocation in their home states or in Louisville.

BTAP Program: To be eligible, applicants must have earned a minimum of two braille certifications while participating in one of 38 prison braille programs nationwide. Those accepted into the program serve an apprenticeship at APH in Louisville, which provides them with training in independent braille production, small business management, and soft skills needed to work in a professional business environment. Upon completion of the apprenticeship, APH may hire participants or contract with them to produce braille, or they may choose to establish independent braille transcription businesses with resources provided by BTAP.

About the American Printing House for the Blind

The American Printing House for the Blind, a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization, is the world’s largest nonprofit company devoted solely to researching, developing, and manufacturing products for people who are blind or visually impaired. Founded in 1858, it is the oldest organization of its kind in the United States. Under the 1879 federal Act to Promote the Education of the Blind, APH is the official supplier of educational materials for visually impaired students in the U.S. who are working at less than college level.

APH produces textbooks and magazines in braille, large print, recorded, and digital formats and manufactures hundreds of educational, recreational, and daily living products including computer software design and engineering along with other technology items.

The American Printing House for the Blind, Inc. is located at 1839 Frankfort Avenue in Louisville, Kentucky. For more information, call (502) 895-2405 or log on to www.aph.org

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