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Request for Proposal for School Embosser

May 6, 2019

This Request for Proposals (RFP) is to help the American Printing House (APH) seek a potential partner to provide a school embosser to be sold by APH that meets the unique teaching and learning needs of our target customers. APH will consider all proposals for existing, modified, or new devices, with the goal of making an affordable, effective, quality embosser for school use available to our customers in the fall of 2019. Please note that APH is still exploring our customers’ embosser needs and feature preferences, and may modify this RFP with an addendum if it is determined a different course of action is necessary. This RFP also does not guarantee that a contract award will be made.

Table of Contents

Request for Proposal Specifications

American Printing House for the Blind (APH) Overview

The American Printing House for the Blind (APH) is a private, nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation that has served our nation’s citizens who are blind and visually impaired since before the Civil War. Founded in 1858, APH is the oldest company in the U.S. dedicated to creating products for people who are blind or visually impaired and is the largest organization of its kind in the world. APH has a wide range of products and services such as educational materials, software, braille, large print, digital textbooks, and accessible tests. In addition, APH is viewed as an important source of information and a thought leader throughout the industry.

The mission of the American Printing House for the Blind is to promote the independence of people who are blind and visually impaired by providing specialized materials, products, and services needed for education and life. Much of APH’s mandate is derived from the Federal Act to Promote the Education of the Blind of 1879. Through the Act, we work to level the learning playing field by providing technology and products that open the doors to educational success, satisfying employment, social inclusion, active citizenship, and personal well-being.

Learn more about APH at

Our Customers

In general, APH has a very wide range of audiences for our products, services, and information. This includes students of all ages, service providers, professionals, consumers, organizations needing services, providers, professionals, government agencies, employees, and the general public. For the purposes of planning the design and function of this project, the target markets for the requested school embosser are as follows:

Primary market: Teachers of students ages 5-17

Primary users of the school embosser will be teachers of school-age students who may be teaching in schools for the blind or in public school settings with varying degrees of experience with braille and braille embossing from beginner to advanced. This embosser may be the first one they have ever had personal access to in their classroom or school. It may be used for embossing pages of books or textbooks, classroom assignments, classroom information, or other information needed to level the learning playing field for their students. It is expected to have heavy use in the classroom environment.

Secondary market: College disability offices supporting college students who are blind

Secondary users include college disability offices providing a braille embosser to assist students with their classwork, studying, or social and leisure activities. Students typically use the embossers independently, and may or may not receive assistance from disability office representatives.

Tertiary market: Other organizations and businesses using BrailleBlaster and needing a low-cost embosser.

As BrailleBlaster use has become mainstream, APH has heard from small businesses, churches, print shops, parents, and others in search of low cost embossers to provide paper copies of braille files. They have been looking to APH to provide this product. These customers have no experience working with a braille embosser, and expect it to behave like a desktop printer.

Proposal Requirements and Preferences

For the first time, APH is considering providing an embosser solution to our customers, as part of our commitment to increasing the use of braille, and improving braille literacy. Vendors are encouraged to offer their unique solutions, expertise, and creativity to their proposals and demonstrate the best and most innovative solution they have available within the following parameters:


  • The embosser must prominently feature, and make use of APH’s proprietary braille transcription software, BrailleBlaster. APH expects this embosser to be an extension of our BrailleBlaster program, and it must be compatible in every way. Documentation must encourage the use of BrailleBlaster as a first choice, and expressly promote BrailleBlaster’s ability to provide a student with textbook pages quickly, providing appropriate resource links and content that will be provided by APH. The vendor is encouraged to offer other creative ways to support the BrailleBlaster platform in their proposal. For more information go to
  • Must also support Duxbury and other popular translation programs
  • Warranty and/or service agreements must cover repairs/replacement units for up to 4 years.
  • Accessibility features, including tactile accessible labels on the control panel
  • Must work with all devices and have the necessary connective ports – Mac, PC, Mobile
  • Must have USB and WiFi connectivity
  • Should work as a printer on any business or home network
  • Wireless printing capability
  • Must provide ongoing level 2 and above customer service, technical support, and repairs
  • Training tutorials must be available


  • 2 side printing preferred, 1-side acceptable
  • Conducive to 11.5×11 paper size (highly preferred)
  • Accommodates 80-100 lb weight braille quality paper
  • Tractor feed and sheet feed quality capability available (tractor feed more critical, but both are ideal)
  • Advanced accessibility features preferred, including accessible synthetic speech
  • Ink printing capability available
  • 60-100 cps
  • Embosser preview layouts
  • Software that supports the development of tactile graphics
  • Target unit cost of $1850
  • 20 DPI tactile resolution
  • 20 DPI embossed dot density
  • Weighs less than 30 pounds
  • 70-80db(A) noise level

Educational Enhancements

All APH products must be unique to APH customers to be available on the federal mandate (quota). If a vendor is proposing a solution that is already on the market, it must be customized to meet the unique needs of APH customers, and sensitive to the very specific learning and living goals of our market. The nature of these suggested enhancements are to be proposed by the vendor. The enhancements are to be included in the price of the product to APH. A separate custom development cost requirement for these enhancements is not a consideration. A full incorporation of BrailleBlaster into the embosser platform is required to make this product unique to APH.

Evaluation Criteria

Proposals will be evaluated on the following:

  • Timing and ability to commence supplying a product.
  • Understanding of the APH customer and the environment in which they will operate the embosser.
  • Vendor capacity to adjust specifications prior to contract based on customer feedback.
  • Understanding of BrailleBlaster product and how it can be integrated.
  • Ability to reliably supply product to meet demand of at least 150 units annually.
  • Price of product.
  • Candidate’s reliable history of supplying a like-kind product to market within proposed delivery schedule.
  • Ability to provide both warranty and out-of-warranty service to customers.
  • Candidate’s reliable history of product service and maintenance.
  • Candidate’s ability to provide enhancements and updates based on customer feedback.
  • Overall specifications and innovative features of device, proposed customizations of device if any, and strength of proposal.
  • Review of candidate’s manufacturing facilities, processes, and policies.
  • Proposed payment terms.


Vendors may offer a pricing proposal that recovers costs through unit costs to APH only.

Project Timeline

May 6, 2019: RFP Release
May 20, 2019: Vendor Question Deadline
May 24, 2019: Question Responses Posted
June 14, 2019: Proposals Due to APH
June 24 – July 1: Vendor Interviews
July 12, 2019: Vendor Award
Sept. 1, 2019: First shipment due in APH warehouse

Send questions to Chris Prentice, Manager, Business Development


The bid package shall include:

  • Full documentation of specifications
  • Illustration(s) or photograph(s) of embosser
  • Proposal for device APH market customization
  • Proposal for warranty, maintenance, updates, and customer service
  • Separate proposal for optional extended warranty or repairs after warranty has expired to reach 4 years of coverage for customer
  • Price estimates based on order of minimum of 150 per year for 2 years
  • Proposed delivery schedule
  • Sample device (or sample of similar device) for testing

All communication about this RFP, whether electronic, verbal or hard copy, is confidential and must be considered as such by all parties involved. This RFP is meant to be a request for information and is not and should not be considered an offer of contract. Should your proposal be selected for further discussion, a contract may be negotiated at that time. APH reserves the right to modify or reject the RFP specifications during the negotiations with the vendor.

RFP proposals are due by the close of business, June 14, 2019 to:

Chris Prentice, Business Development Manager
American Printing House for the Blind, Inc.
1839 Frankfort Avenue
Louisville, KY 40206
Phone: 1-502-899-2329