Seedlings Braille Books for Children

Student Contributor -C. Mosca
Seedlings Braille Books for Children is non-profit organization devoted to providing free and low-cost braille books for children and increasing the opportunity for literacy for children who have visual impairments. It provides popular literature for braille readers in all 50 states and over 75 foreign countries. They give away about half of their books and sell the rest for a small fraction of what it costs to makes them. Their funding comes from individuals, philanthropic groups, corporations and private foundations. At this time, less than 20% of the 50,000 blind children in the United States are proficient in braille; often, written words have been inaccessible to them, and this is what seedlings is working to change!

Seedlings contributes to literacy by providing visually impaired children an equal opportunity to develop the love of reading. Braille books are provided at each level of development, from toddler board books to classic literature for older children. 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. Exposure to popular, high quality braille literature throughout childhood increases the likelihood of children developing into able braille readers. Since 1984 Seedlings has produced 608,885 braille books, equaling over 25 million pages of braille, 60% of which were given away for free. Seedlings also has The Rose Project, that provides encyclopedia articles in braille for student’s projects and reports and have become a very popular resource for students eager to work independently. As well as providing four free books a year for VI children, Seedlings also gives free books and materials to teachers of VI students.

Thanks to hundreds of generous donors and dedicated, hard-working volunteers, the price of Seedlings' books remains far below actual production costs, averaging only $10 per book. Donations help to subsidize braille book production to keep Seedlings’ books affordable. While
volunteers fill important roles in the braille book production process. Students can help raise money for Seedlings through bake-sales or other fundraisers. Classes can raise money to sponsor a new book title to be transcribed into braille. Or holiday cards and other gifts such as braille blocks or cards can be purchased through the Seedlings’ website to contribute to the cost of books. Teachers and other school employees can participate in Dress Down Days or Jeans Days and make a minimum donation. All funds raised can be collected and sent to Seedlings and will be used to make more books to be given to blind children.

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