We, at Navigating Blindness, are strong believers in the power of braille! For the entire month of July, we will be featuring a variety of braille literacy resources for students, teachers, transcribers, and families. Please check out our Instagram and Facebook pages for additional features and posts. Today, we are excited to learn more about Seedlings Braille Books for Children!
Guest post, written by Katelynn Lucas
Community Outreach, Seedlings Braille Books
Have you heard of Seedlings Braille Books for Children? If not, get ready to learn all about this small non-profit in Metro Detroit that produces free and low-cost braille books for children with vision loss. Seedlings’ mission is to increase the opportunity for literacy by providing high-quality free and low-cost braille books for children. They produce three types of books: Print-Braille-and-Picture books for toddlers and preschoolers, Print-and-Braille Easy Readers for beginning readers, and braille books as big as The Hunger Games for ages 6-21. By offering these different types of books, Seedlings is opening up the possibilities for children with vision loss to read together with their sighted family members and peers. The best part about Seedlings’ books is that, thanks to generous grants and donations, they cost an average of just $10 per book!
Director Debra Bonde founded Seedlings in 1984 because braille reading materials are scarce and expensive. One children’s book can cost upwards of $100! Her goals were to increase the availability and lower the cost of braille books for children in order to promote their literacy skills and the love of reading. That first year, she produced 221 books. In 2019, with a small staff and a group of loyal volunteers, Seedlings produced nearly 34,000 braille books and articles, over half of which were given away free! Since 1984, Seedlings has produced 590,000 books, equaling more than 24 million pages of braille!
Seedlings offers FREE book programs throughout the year! Two ongoing programs are Book Angel, where children ages 0-21 in the U.S. and Canada receive three free books of their choice every year, and TVIP, which gives Teachers of the Visually Impaired in the U.S. four free one-volume books each calendar year. You can participate in these programs by going to http://www.seedlings.org/special.php. Make sure you also sign up to receive Seedlings’ emails so you don’t miss any of their special giveaways or other announcements: https://bit.ly/2M4znIR
Seedlings is a leader among braille publishers in the U.S. in the number of children’s books it produces in the new Unified English Braille code. Because Seedlings’ staff members are blessed with a set of great volunteer transcribers, they have been able to transcribe nearly 600 of their 1,300 titles into UEB and continue to work on more titles every day.
Just as sighted children learn to read as they are exposed to the printed word, so do visually impaired children who are exposed to the tactile page at an early age learn to read. Exposure to popular, high-quality braille literature throughout childhood increases the likelihood of children becoming able braille readers. According to the National Federation of the Blind, 9 out of 10 blind adults in the United States who work full-time are fluent in braille. This shows the importance of braille literacy to employment and self-sufficiency.
According to the National Federation of the Blind, 9 out of 10 blind adults in the United States who work full-time are fluent in braille.
If you are wondering how you can contribute to Seedlings’ mission of promoting braille literacy for visually impaired children, check out their website: www.seedlings.org. There are many ways to donate.
Seedlings loves to hear from their “kids” and families. Here are a couple of their favorite quotes:
- “As a TVI, Seedlings is my go-to source for my braille readers. I love that you have popular books I want my students exposed to. Thank you so much for this opportunity to build our braille library. I have a kindergarten student who is just starting to learn braille and having beautiful teaching materials keeps us both enthusiastic!”
- “Your books have been a huge help in teaching my daughter to read braille before she loses her eyesight! She enjoys them and loves to try to teach her baby brother braille with them as well. You have helped me in getting her a collection started! We thank you and appreciate all you do.”
Hearing from their families and teachers from all over the world reminds them of why they do what they do.
Want to learn more?
Seedlings has been featured by many news organizations. Check out a few below:
Watch Seedlings’ promotional video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XSAva63sQ_c&feature=youtu.be
If you haven’t already followed Seedlings on their many social media platforms, head over to their pages and give them a “like” or “follow” to stay up-to-date on everything they are doing.