Our Story & Mission
The American Printing House for the Blind promotes independence of people who are blind and visually impaired by providing specialized materials, products, and services needed for education and life.
The Story of APH
Before 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 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.
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
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:
- Large Print
- Computer File
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:
- braille instructional programs
- science teaching kits
- talking computer software
- low vision assessment kits
- early childhood development materials
- braille writing devices
- digital recording equipment
- videos on topics related to blindness.
Two Examples of APH’s Many Services That Support Our Products
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.
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:
- Accessible books and magazines in braille, large print, recorded, and computer file formats
- Educational products
- Independent living products
- Production of custom accessible media, such as braille menus
- An accessible website with:
- online ordering of products
- Louis textbook location database
- APH File Repository
- Fred’s Head tips and techniques blog
- Product training seminars
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!
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 502-899-2356 to schedule.
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
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.