American Printing House for the Blind Partners with Connecticut Prison for Braille Program

Society

Inmates provide educational materials for students who are blind, gain job skills and experience

The American Printing House for the Blind (APH) is implementing a prison braille program at the York Correctional Institution in Niantic, Connecticut. One of forty braille production facilities housed within correctional centers nationwide, this program is a partnership among the Connecticut Department of Corrections (DOC), the Connecticut Department of Rehabilitation Services – Bureau of Education and Services for the Blind (DORS-BESB) and American Printing House for the Blind (APH). The J. Walton Bissell Foundation, Inc. in West Hartford, Connecticut, awarded APH a grant in the amount of $26,000 to purchase computers and other electronic equipment to launch this program.

APH coordinates the National Prison Braille Network of programs across the country, in which long-term inmates learn braille and transcribe print educational materials into braille for students who are blind. By learning braille and becoming certified by the U.S. Library of Congress, inmates gain valuable job skills and daily work experience, reducing their risk for recidivism following release from prison.

“Once the program in Connecticut is operational, inmates will provide much-needed braille textbooks for students K-12 who are blind throughout the state,” said Nancy Mothersele, Braille Coordinator for BESB. “This represents a significant contribution to state taxpayers.”

“APH is proud to partner in this endeavor and help inmates learn valuable job skills while developing much needed educational materials for children who are visually impaired,” said Craig Meador, president of APH. “We are working together toward common goals.”

Established in 1989, the J. Walton Bissell Foundation provides support for people with vision loss and for programs that stem the tide of recidivism in Connecticut.

“I am excited that this grant allows DORS to partner with APH and the DOC, returning a much-needed braille production program to Connecticut,” said DORS Commissioner Amy Porter. “This collaboration will ensure we are providing high-quality braille materials at substantial cost savings to the state.”

“It is difficult to overstate the impact of this grant award. Not only will it allow us to provide offenders with meaningful job skills – greatly reducing the risk of recidivism, but it will also produce invaluable educational materials,” said Scott Semple, DOC Commissioner.  “I am confident that I echo the sentiments of all our partners in this endeavor when I extend a grateful ‘thank you’ to the good people at the J. Walton Bissell Foundation for their support.”

About American Printing House for the Blind
The American Printing House for the Blind, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization is a worldwide leader in designing innovative lifelong learning solutions for children and adults who are blind or visually impaired. In this fast-changing world, we believe in the power and necessity of learning to open the doors to educational success, satisfying employment, social inclusion, active citizenship, and personal well-being. We level the learning playing field by providing specialized technology, materials, products, and services that are essential for education and life. The American Printing House for the blind is headquartered at 1839 Frankfort Avenue in Louisville, Kentucky. For more information, please visit www.aph.org.

About York Correctional Institution
The York Correctional Institution is a high-security facility.  It serves as the state’s only institution for female offenders.  It serves all superior courts in Connecticut and manages all pretrial and sentenced female offenders, whatever their security level. The programming units at the facility have an extensive array of positive interventions for the population. The Department’s Correctional Enterprise of Connecticut (CEC) manages a program based at this facility in which offenders are employed on projects. CEC’s programs offer inmates opportunities to be productive, learn new skills, be accomplished and responsible, thus aiding in the overall safety and security of the agency. This is accomplished through voluntary inmate participation in CEC’s production shops, which reduce prison idleness, instill work ethic, and promote skill development.

About the Department of Rehabilitation Services–Bureau of Education and Services for the Blind
The Bureau of Education and Services for the Blind (BESB), as part of the Department of Rehabilitation Services, provides resources, comprehensive low vision services, specialized education services, life skills training, case management, and vocational services to individuals of all ages who are legally blind and to children who are visually impaired.