Visit Our House!

American Printing House for the Blind Writing Contest

Mark your place in history! An exciting opportunity to tell your story!



Logo reads: APH 160th 1858-2018. Words are wrapped in a laurel wreath

For 160 years APH has held the mission of providing specialized materials, products, and services to people with visual impairment and blindness.

Through research and development of braille, large print, and digital textbooks, APH has built a legacy of improving lives through literacy promoting academic achievement, and supporting successful careers for thousands of people with vision loss.

As part of our 160th Anniversary, APH is hosting a National Writing Contest. We want to hear from you, our customers, about the impact that APH products have had on your lives and to celebrate your successes. Please share your stories with us and become a celebrated part of APH’s history.

Craig Meador


The writing contest is open to:

Current and former employees of the American Printing House for the Blind are not eligible to enter this contest.

General Rules

  1. All entrants must be either blind or visually impaired*, or work with students and adults who have vision loss.

    *For the purposes of this contest, visual impairment is defined as corrected visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye, or a visual field limited to 20 degrees or less. This includes those who function at the federal definition of blindness (FDB), listed above, due to brain injury or dysfunction.

  2. A completed entry form for the appropriate category (student, adult consumer, professional) must accompany each letter or essay submitted. (See entry forms below.)
  3. Contestants must submit a letter or essay on the official topic indicated for their grade level or adult category (consumer or professional), as indicated below.
  4. Contestants must compose an original letter or essay based on their own thoughts and in their own words. Limited guidance from teachers and parents is acceptable. Failure to identify non-original materials will result in disqualification.
  5. Each contestant may submit only one entry for the contest.
  6. Entries must be no longer than the maximum word count indicated for each category.
  7. Letters and essays must be written in English.
  8. Letters and essays can be submitted in these formats: print on paper, print electronic file, embossed braille, or electronic braille file (.brf).
  9. All letters and essays become the property of the American Printing House for the Blind. Entry in the APH 160th Anniversary National Writing Contest implies permission for APH to edit, publish, or otherwise duplicate any letter or essay entered into the contest without payment to the author. It also implies permission to release any information provided on the entry form and to photograph the author for publicity purposes during the fall awards ceremony in Louisville, Kentucky.
  10. The decisions of the APH 160th Anniversary National Writing Contest judges are final.
  11. Failure to follow all General Rules will result in disqualification.

Categories, Official Topics and Maximum Word Count

(Grades are for the 2017-2018 school year)

Grades 3-5 (Maximum 250 words)

Official Topic:
The American Printing House for the Blind (APH) provides specialized tools and materials for people who are blind and visually impaired to learn and to live independently. Write a letter to APH telling us about either

Grades 6-8 (Maximum 500 words)

Official Topic:
Louis Braille, a Frenchman, invented the braille code of tactile reading and writing in 1821. He died in 1852 – six years before APH was founded in 1858. Write a letter to Louis and tell him either

Grades 9-12 (Maximum 750 words)

Official Topic:
Think about the career or vocation you would like to pursue as an adult. Write an essay about how your strengths and interests will help you in this work. What person (or people) have empowered you to succeed? What APH product(s) has best prepared you for work in this area, and what product(s) will you use to become successful in this career or vocation?

Adult Consumers (Maximum 1,000 words)

Official Topic:
APH has celebrated many milestones since it was founded in 1858. For example: in 1883 a new building was constructed; in 1932, Standard English Braille became the only tactile reading and writing system produced by APH; in 1974, cassette tapes were introduced in the Talking Book program; and in 2003, Book Port was offered for sale. Write an essay about significant milestones in your life. What factors helped you to accomplish remarkable things and to overcome challenges? What APH product(s) have empowered you along the way?

Professionals (Maximum 1,000 words)

Official Topic:
Write an essay about the most creative, unique way you have used an APH product (or products). What is the product and what did it help you (or a student or adult you worked with) accomplish?

Evaluation of Entries

Evaluation of all letters and essays will be completed by a panel of judges who will base their decisions on:

Cash prizes will be awarded in each Grade level and adult category:

First Place — $500
Second Place — $250
Third Place — $100


First Place winners in each category will be invited to travel to Louisville, Kentucky, to read their entries at the APH 160th Anniversary National Writing Contest Awards Ceremony, to be held in October, 2018. APH will cover travel and hotel expenses, as well as APH Annual Meeting registration fees, for each first place winner and one guest.

Second and third place winners will be invited to attend the awards ceremony, but expenses will not be covered.

All entries must be received by APH staff no later than June 1, 2018.

Winners will be announced no later than August 31, 2018.


Send Paper Entries with Completed Entry Forms to:

APH 160th Anniversary National Writing Contest
C/o Nancy Lacewell, Public Affairs Department
American Printing House for the Blind
1839 Frankfort Avenue
Louisville, KY 40206

Send Electronic Entries with Completed Entry Forms to:
Subject line: APH 160th Anniversary National Writing Contest

Note: All forms require a handwritten signature. To submit a form electronically, please scan the signed form and email that file.

For more information:

Contact Nancy Lacewell, email hidden; JavaScript is required, 502-899-2339, or
Lauren Hicks, email hidden; JavaScript is required, 502-895-2405

Entry Forms

Note: All forms require a handwritten signature. To submit a form electronically, please scan the signed form and email that file as directed above.