Braille version of book 5 weighs in at 13 volumes

  July 1, 2003 at 2:01 PM ET
  Cheeser     HPANA (via Christian Science Monitor)

From the Christian Science Monitoropens in new window:

The staff of 49 at the National Braille Press is producing an unusually high volume of pages from this converted piano factory near Boston's Symphony Hall. They hope to ship 500 braille versions of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix within three weeks of the book's June 21 release date.

A first printing of 500 copies will fill the needs of 10 percent of the entire K-12 market of braille readers in the US, and the work involved is no small task.

After the text is transcribed into the correct notation - which involves spelling out words that don't contract in braille, such as Hermione or Hogsmeade - pages are punched, proofed, and pressed through the old Heidelberg cylinders. Volunteers then help the staff collate, fold, and staple the books by hand (machines would smash the braille). Finally, the 500 copies, each of which amounts to a 13-volume stack of paper more than a foot high, are shipped.

In the end, the books will be priced the same as nonbraille versions - just under $30. "The cost doesn't even cover the paper," says Diane Croft of National Braille Press. "But we're a nonprofit, and it's our job to raise the difference. No one should be penalized for having to read braille."

Braille reading has declined in the past few decades, continues the article, which you can read at the top link. I used to work for a technology company that catered to the disabled community, including the blind. You'd be amazed at what computers and software today can do - read aloud text on a screen for instance - and, perhaps in the process, make Braille unnecessary.


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