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What's New at NBP

Where in the World is NBP?

NBA logo

Next week, October 27th through 29th, two of National Braille Press's expert transcribers are heading to St. Louis, Missouri to attend the annual National Braille Association conference. They will spend three days with transcribers and proofreaders from around the country absorbing all there is to know about Unified English Braille, Braille Formats, and other braille codes and uses! The well-attended conference is held each fall in a major U.S. city.

National Braille Association, founded in 1945, is a non-profit organization composed of individual members dedicated to providing continuing education to those who prepare braille, and to providing braille materials to persons who are visually impaired. Are you attending this year? Find out more at NBA's website.

Posted 10/21/2016

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Reaching for the Stars!

Juna Gjata plays piano at the 2013 A Million Laughs for Literacy gala
Juna Gjata plays piano at the 2013 A Million Laughs for Literacy gala

For the "Reach for the Stars" essay contest among the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind's summer interns, NBP friend Juna Gjata created a winning podcast! Listen to Juna's podcast entry here!

Posted 8/19/2016

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Best-Sellers at the National Conventions

Customer Service Supervisor Ray Rodriguez at the ACB exhibit booth
Customer Service Supervisor Ray Rodriguez at the ACB exhibit booth

NBP Staff returned from the two national conventions last week — the National Federation of the Blind in Orlando, and the American Council of the Blind in Minneapolis. Here are the best-sellers at the 2016 summer conventions!

  1. The Tactile Caliper, $18.00 — far and away the best-seller!
  2. The Day the Crayons Quit, $17.99
  3. iOS 9 Reference Card, $8.00
  4. Disney's Frozen, $6.99
  5. Print/braille Magnets, $5.00 each. We sold the most of this one: "Anyone can be cool, but awesome takes practice!"
  6. Hop on Pop, $4.99
  7. Dragons Love Tacos, $16.99
  8. Click Clack Moo: Cows That Type, $9.99
  9. 121 Good-Eating Tips, $8.00
  10. Amazing Mazes, $15.00
  11. Brontorina, $6.99
  12. Saturday Morning Quotations, $9.00
  13. Everything You Need to Know to Use the Mac with El Capitan and VoiceOver, $22.00
  14. Braille Alphabet Bangle, $32.00 + s/h

Posted 7/15/2016

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Highlights for Children Spotlights NBP Transcriber Laurie Lower

The full Highlights aricle featuring Laurie

Highlights for Children interviewed NBP's very own Laurie Lower for their June issue, in a spread titled, "What a Pro Knows, Making Books in Braille, Laurie Lower transcribes children's books for readers who are blind."

Laurie has been part of the NBP family since September 2012. Her passion and dedication gave her the drive to overcome obstacles and become an extremely talented transcriber. Her braille preparation began at an NBP class taught by Eileen Curran and after becoming certified she worked as a paraprofessional for a six year old for a couple of years.

Laurie loves that she gets to work with the most intelligent, passionate, and caring people who work together for the common goal of promoting literacy for blind and visually impaired children and adults who also don't take themselves too seriously. To a transcriber here finding print and scanner errors, along with Ray's contagious laugh, are some of the things that can brighten your average day. We are very lucky that Grendel's Den Restaurant & Bar let such a talented person get away so that we can have her during the times she's not enjoying her time outdoors with her dog and her husband.

The spread features two photos. In the first, Laurie is wearing her National Braille Press t-shirt, standing outside our building holding The Hickory Chair by Lisa Rowe Faustino, and Stir it Up: Recipes and Techniques for Young Blind Cooks by NBP. The second photo shows Laurie working at a manual plate embosser. The spread also features the braille alphabet and a decoding activity. Read the accessible article text.

Posted 7/8/2016

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NBP Welcomes Kesel Wilson

National Braille Press is pleased to announce that Kesel Wilson has been hired as our new Editor and Programs Manager! Kesel has worked at Scholastic, Jones and Bartlett Publishers, quilting book publisher C&T Publishing, and, most recently, the Pearson Technology Group. Kesel's first day was Monday, May 23, 2016, and she's already immersed herself in several projects, including working with authors on new manuscripts and the selection and launch of the next Great Expectations book project.

"Kesel brings a wide range of experience - from working at a quilting book publisher, to teaching chemistry, to her last position with the Pearson Technology Group," said VP of Publications Tony Grima. "I think she's a great fit for the NBP Publications Department as we look to broaden our books and product offerings, and identify some underserved areas of our community."

"I'm excited to be part of such a dynamic, talented, and passionate team here at NBP and am 100% committed to continuing the legacy of excellence," said Kesel.

Kesel can be reached at, or by phone at 617-266-6160 extension 413.

Posted 6/10/2016

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TactileTalk Tookit Wins
the 2015 Touch of Genius Prize

TactileTalk Tookit

The 2015 Touch of Genius Prize is being awarded to the TactileTalk Tookit and Guidebook for iPad: Strategies for Functional Communication and Literacy. This is the first tactile communication and literacy system utilizing voice output to be developed for the iPad. Designed by Dr. Betsy Flener and Joni Nygard, produced by the Attainment Company, the TactileTalk Toolkit was designed for students with visual impairments who have additional disabilities or for very young visually impaired children.

Research has shown that the use of tactile symbols is an effective approach in educating students with visual and multiple disabilities. Tactile symbols have been widely used for many years. Although various studies have cited the need for voice output to accompany tactile symbols systems, until now no viable, portable system has been available.

The complete TactileTalk Toolkit contains the GoTalk NOW App, TactileTalk Communication and Literacy Book, 25 premade tactile overlays, 5 customizable overlays, and a comprehensive 116-page TactileTalk Guidebook. The accessible guidebook features large print and is available electronically. It includes information about the development of TactileTalk, appropriate instruction in the use of tactile symbols, and ideas for additional tactile symbol overlays. Many illustrated examples are provided for making or customizing overlays for a range of students with visual impairments.

TactileTalk is produced by the Attainment Company and just began shipping in January 2016.

Read more about the Touch of Genius Prize.

Posted 3/4/2016

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National Braille Press Announces Departure of Publisher Diane Croft

photo of Diane Croft

National Braille Press today announced that Publisher Diane Croft will step down in April 2016. After 34 years of service to NBP and to the blindness community, Diane is excited to embark on this next stage in her career, devoting full-time to publishing under a new imprint, Interleaf Press, and the release of her book on the collective unconscious this summer.

"I consider myself the luckiest person in the world to have had the privilege and honor of working in this community for so many years," said Diane. "At NBP, I work alongside a group of enormously talented, hardworking individuals, who care deeply about braille. Stepping away from what I know and love is hard, but change also brings new energy and creativity."

After receiving her master's degree from Harvard University, Diane was hired by then-NBP President Bill Raeder to oversee NBP's publishing efforts and new product development. Among her first accomplishments were the launch of the first Children's Braille Book Club, a weekly editorial newspaper, Syndicated Columnists Weekly, and the start of NBP's self-help books on access technology. Since then, her commitment to the promotion and advocacy of braille is renowned throughout the world.

The blindness community has recognized Diane for her contributions to the field with numerous awards, including the Dr. Jacob Bolotin Award and the Jacobus tenBroek Award from the National Federation of the Blind, the 1990 Book Award from the President's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities, the Uncommon Vision Award, and the Bay State Council of the Blind Outstanding Service Award. She received the Hands On! Award from NBP in 2012 for her efforts to promote braille literacy, an award that has also been given to Former First Lady Laura Bush, J.K. Rowling, then Senator John Kerry, and Sabriye Tenberken. Diane is a published author and editor of dozens of publications, including the award-winning biography of the inventor of braille, Louis Braille: A Touch of Genius, which has been translated into seven languages.

Brian Mac Donald, President of NBP said, "Diane is a brilliant writer and editor, and she is loved and admired in this community because she has been a passionate, thoughtful, and caring advocate for the blind and visually impaired. Her creative leadership in supporting braille literacy programs for children has left a permanent mark in the history of braille."

NBP has established a search committee to identify Diane's successor.

Posted 2/14/2016

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A Conversation with Lisamaria Martinez, Host of Red, White, & Braille

photo of blindfolded man tasting several glasses of red wine

A Conversation with Lisamaria Martinez, NBP Trustee, and Host of Red, White, & Braille, a wine tasting to benefit National Braille Press

How did you get involved with National Braille Press?
I've known about NBP since I was a kid. I've been a voracious reader since I could read and I came across a fair amount of print/braille books from NBP. I dreamed about being able to have enough money to buy my own books one day. I always looked at the title pages so I would know where to buy these books when I grew up and had money. As an adult, I subscribed to Syndicated Columnist and as a parent of two fabulous little boys, I am always buying the newest print/braille book to read to my kids-although now, my oldest is reading those books to me and to his little brother.

What made you want to host a wine tasting fundraiser to benefit NBP?
I'm a new board of trustee, not even one year yet. Joe Quintanilla told me NBP wanted to host a fundraiser out west and asked if I would help. I love wine and thought a wine tasting suited the northern California culture quite nicely. My hubby and I are wine club members of several wineries so I know a little bit about wines and now … I'm cramming to sound more educated about wines for the day of the event.

Do you approach tasting wine differently than sighted people?
I don't think I approach tasting wine any differently than a sighted person. As a blind person, I can't necessarily appreciate the ruby red of a pinot noir or the golden color of a chardonnay, but there's so much more to wine than the color. The aroma of wine, the body of wine, and the finish of wine in your mouth are all experiences that make wine tasting fun. The color is very important, especially to expert tasters, but for most people, I think it is about the smell and taste of wine.

What can guests of the wine tasting fundraiser expect at the event?
Well, the VIP tasters are definitely in for a treat. I've got a surprise pairing for the wines we'll be tasting but I can't reveal my surprise. The event itself is going to be loads of fun and I think everyone will definitely enjoy themselves-how can you not with good wine, good nibbles, and good people?

Learn more about the Red, White, and Braille Wine Tasting

Posted 2/12/2016

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It's Louis Braille's 207th birthday!

photo of Louis Braille's home in Coupvray, France

In honor of the ultimate literacy champion, NBP has three ways for you to help us celebrate his birthday...

Today is the official launch day of the new Unified English Braille code in the United States! For over a year, NBP has been a leader in the rollout of UEB. First, our magazine, Syndicated Columnists Weekly, started using the new code last January, and our Children's Braille Book Club followed in April. We also offer a free print/braille guide to the most common UEB changes, compiled by NBP's transcribers and proofreaders. Order your copy today!

You can help us spread the word of Louis's genius throughout the world! For this month only, we are reducing the price of his incredible biography, Louis Braille: A Touch of Genius by Mike Mellor. Purchase the print edition for only $20 - that's $15 off the retail price! Give this book as a gift to sighted friends, family members, teachers, students - and make sure your local library has a copy! (The braille edition is temporarily out of print.) Order copies here!

All through Louis Braille's birthday month, if you sign up to become a NBP Literacy Champion with a donation of $5 or more each month, you can be entered in a raffle to win a copy of ZoomText Fusion. Click here to become a Literacy Champion and learn more about ZoomText's new screen reading and refreshable braille display capabilities! It is ideal for anyone who would like to learn or perfect his or her braille reading skills while performing daily work tasks. Forward this email to a friend and if they become a Literacy Champion, you'll increase your chances of winning!

Pictured above: Louis Braille's home in Coupvray, France

Posted 1/4/2016

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UEB Position Statement

National Braille Press

For 88 years, the guiding principles of National Braille Press (NBP) have been to promote the literacy of blind children through braille and to provide access to information that empowers blind adults to actively engage in work, family, and community affairs. We believe that braille is an essential tool that helps people without sight become literate.

Since the 2012 adoption of Unified English Braille (UEB) by the Braille Authority of North America (BANA), National Braille Press has embraced the transition for our own publications in preparation for full UEB implementation on January 4, 2016. However, as part of our mission to support literacy and numeracy for braille readers of all ages and skill levels, we pledge to continue producing braille in any code required to make educational materials accessible to ALL braille-reading students.

As individual states begin to develop their own implementation plans for UEB, NBP is concerned that the use of two different codes (UEB and Nemeth) for technical materials such as math and science will significantly impact students across the country. Two technical codes will cause uncertainty and confusion for braille readers and will affect the future of braille. Having a nationally unified approach to math and science is essential. There is already a scarcity of resources, training, and teachers of the visually impaired in our community, thus a uniform, efficient transition is critical to support braille literacy.

National Braille Press believes that BANA, as a unified representation of stakeholders in the braille community and a leader in the distribution of braille codes in the United States, should be the authority on this matter and make a definitive decision on a code for technical materials.

Posted 11/25/2015

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Chinese and American Braille Cultural Exchange Exhibit

photo of Brian MacDonald showing the new caliper at the exhibit

Brian MacDonald traveled to Seattle recently to attend the grand opening of an exhibition at the Washington Talking Book & Braille Library to encourage exchanges between China and the US to better serve people with visual disabilities.

A blind attendee tests out the b2g.

The exhibition was inaugurated by Kim Wyman, secretary of state for Washington State, and Zhang Wei, president of the China Braille Press-a publishing operation serving 17 million people in China. The exhibit covers topics such as braille publication in the digital age, famous blind people in the US and China, and education and cultural exchange. Also on display were braille technologies developed by the China Braille Press as well as NBP's Braille to Go (b2g) refreshable braille display that is currently in development.

Posted 10/2/2015

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2015 President's Awardee: Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh

photo of Marty Walsh

Mayor Martin J. Walsh insisted that tactile warning strips and ramps be installed in the Beacon Hill neighborhood, despite its residences' reluctance. As the Mayor stated, "If we want to be an inclusive city, we need to make sure people have the opportunity to be inclusive in every neighborhood by getting around" (Boston Globe).

Join us as we present Mayor Walsh with the President's Award at NBP's A Million Laughs for Literacy Gala on November 12th.

Posted 9/25/2015

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Best-sellers at the 2015 Conventions

Here are the top twelve best-selling publications from the ACB and NFB conventions in early July.

  1. The Day the Crayons Quit
  2. Anyone Can Play: Accessible Games for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch
  3. Braille Spelling Dictionary (UEB)
  4. iOS 8 Reference Card
  5. Frozen
  6. Getting Started with the iPhone and iOS 8 : Step-by-Step Instructions for Blind Users
  7. Dragons Love Tacos
  8. UEB Brief Symbols List
  9. Out and About: Our Favorite Travel Apps
  10. Recipes from my Kitchen: Asian and American Comfort Food
  11. Stream It! Music, Movies, and More with Apple TV and VoiceOver
  12. Friday Morning Quotations
As always, our braille jewelry and print/braille refrigerator magnets were also very popular!

Posted 7/17/2015

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Photo of NBP employees holding NBP banner on Boston Common

On Wednesday, July 22nd, National Braille Press employees assembled on Boston Common to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Posted 7/24/2015

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front page of Spring 2015 Newsletter

Download and read the 2015 edition of our newsletter, Press Release, in either electronic braille format or as a PDF.

Posted 7/2/2015

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NBP Welcomes New Trustees

photo of all trustees on stage at 2015 Annual Meeting

Trustees gathered at NBP's 2015 Annual Meeting

NBP added five members to the Board of Trustees at our recent annual meeting. Returning board members include former NBP President, Bill Raeder, past Board Chair, Paul Parravano, and past Treasurer, Neal Rosen. New additions to the Board are Lisamaria Martinez, a current member of the Great Expectations Advisory Board, and longtime supporter Matthew Richardson, former District Governor of Boston LIONS International.

Listen to an audio stream of the Annual Meeting!

Posted 6/19/2015

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Louis Braille Touch of Genius Prize for Innovation Award Ceremony

Boy using Braille Writer Tutor prototype

Boy using Braille Writer Tutor prototype

We are pleased to announce the 2014 Touch of Genius Prize winners!

The 2014 Touch of Genius Prize is being awarded to Braille Tutor, an automated braille writing tutor which addresses challenges associated with learning to use a slate and stylus.

An honorary mention is being presented to Intuitive STEM Accessibility System, an interactive platform to make complex STEM material accessible using a hyperbraille device.

Read more about these honorees.

You are cordially invited to the 2014 Louis Braille Touch of Genius Prize for Innovation Award Ceremony.

Microsoft NER&D Center
1 Memorial Dr #1
Cambridge, MA 02142
12 pm, April 2, 2015

To attend, contact Ximena Ojopi at
or at 617-425-2412.

Special thanks to The Gibney Family Foundation.
The Gibney Family Foundation logo.

Posted 3/13/2015

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Promotions and New Staff at NBP

Elizabeth Kent

Elizabeth Kent

Join us as we welcome Keith Bretney, Production/Finishing Support, to NBP. Congratulations are also in order for Joseph Quintanilla and Elizabeth Kent who received much deserved promotions to Vice President of Development and Events and Volunteer Manager, respectively.

Joseph Quintanilla

Joseph Quintanilla

Keith Bretney

Keith Bretney

Posted 2/27/2015

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Bill Raeder Visits School for the Blind in India

Bill Raeder and Jeanne Flannery help with award presentation to students at School for the Blind in India.

Bill Raeder and Jeanne Flannery help with award presentation to students at School for the Blind in India.

On November 14, in Delhi, former NBP president, Bill Raeder, accompanied by Jeanne Flannery, visited the school for the blind, The Blind Relief Association, in Delhi to meet with the Executive Secretary K. C. Pande. Mr. Pande gave Bill and Jeanne a tour of the facility and in addition to academic studies from grades 1 through 12, the school has vocational training in computer operated call center work, candle making, message, chair caning, machine operation and, for post-college graduates, training for teachers of the visually impaired.

The date of their visit, November 14th, happened to be the birthday of Nehru, the founding Prime Minister of India, and is now designated as Children's Day, an all India holiday. The school had prepared a considerable celebration put on primarily by the students with much band music, poetry readings, dance, song and speeches. There were government dignitaries and the Director of Education for the State of Delhi gave the key address. Bill and Jeanne were accorded front row seats with these dignitaries and at the end of the performances, awards were given out to the students. Bill was invited to speak to the assemblage of 200+ students, teachers, staff, and government officials where he gave greetings from America and encouragement to learn and use Braille
Posted 12/5/2014

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A Tribute to Irma Goldberg

All of us at National Braille Press wish to express our sincere grief at the death of Irma Goldberg of Westbury, New York. Irma lovingly and perceptively crafted the tactile illustrations for such classics as Goodnight Moon to Touch, Humpty Dumpty and Other Touching Rhymes, Let's Learn Shapes with Shapely-CAL, Touch and Learn Tactile Activities, Touch the Stars, and her endearing ABC Illustrated Flashcards. Our finest art-by-touch products from Creative Adaptations for Learning were crafted by her hands.

Irma cared deeply about precision in her work. Her genius drawings were rendered with just enough detail, but not too much, to take in the essence of the image or composition. She succeeded brilliantly. We will miss her magic touch.

Goodnight moon. Goodnight stars. Goodnight, dear friend.

Joe Quintanilla and Brian Grillo of the Boston Renegades beep ball team

Posted 7/24/2014

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Remembering Bob O'Brien

Photo of Bob O'Brien

Obituary for Robert E. O'Brien

Robert "Bob" O'Brien died on April 8, 2014 as a result of a fall-related head injury. He was 82 years old. He leaves his wife Caroline, his sister Margaret and a large family of 7 children and step-children and 17 grandchildren.

Bob grew up in Providence, RI, attended Manhattan College and later Harvard Business School, and also served as an artillery officer in the US Army.

Bob had wide-ranging pursuits and accomplishments throughout his career. He was a successful entrepreneur in the 1960's with pioneering ventures including the first company to market corporate fitness programs and an early cable-TV venture that linked surgeons to rural low income hospitals in Puerto Rico. He advised both Massachusetts and Puerto Rico governments on the development of commercial fisheries and he launched a company that consulted with the Federal government on bio-dynamic and ocean-related research. He worked for many years as a management consultant for a broad range of corporate and pro-bono clients, ranging from several Fortune 500 companies to St. Joseph's Abbey in Massachusetts. He was a longtime Board Director for the Carroll Center for the Blind and also for the National Braille Press. He tutored and mentored many students at the School for the Deaf and Blind in St. Augustine, Florida.

Bob loved his hobbies as well. He was an avid reader, a beautiful writer, an accomplished amateur historian and a lover of classical and jazz music. He spent thousands of hours restoring, tinkering with and showing off his collection of old cars. He loved sailing, from his boyhood summers on Narragansett Bay to later summers on Cape Cod and Boston Harbor. In recent years he took up soaring and greatly enjoyed his time both in the air and on the ground with his fellow glider pilots. He was a regular visitor to St. Joseph's Abbey, and his time spent there with his "brothers" and in retreat helped him to reinforce his faith and to maintain a sense of peace with changes in his life.

More than any of these interests and accomplishments, though, Bob loved his family. He was a devoted husband, father and grandfather. While juggling the pressures of his career, he took time each night to read to his children while they were growing up and also shared many special projects and activities. As the grandchildren arrived and grew, he similarly built and cherished a special connection with each of them. He wrote and called regularly, sent thoughtful gifts, found special projects to share, and sought to spend time with each person individually during family get-togethers. He and Caroline traveled regularly across the country and to Europe to visit their children and grandchildren. Bob and Caroline's homes in Maine and Florida hosted many boisterous family get-togethers over the past decades, gatherings that reinforced family bonds and created many happy memories. His long devotion to his family created his most memorable and lasting legacy - a close-knit, loving and thriving extended family that misses him greatly.

A memorial service will be held at St. Joseph's Abbey in May. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to either St. Joseph's Abbey (167 N Spencer Rd, Spencer, MA 01562) or to National Braille Press (88 St. Stephen Street, Boston, MA 02115).
Posted 4/10/2014

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AmazonSmile logo.

We are excited to be part of AmazonSmile! Now when you shop at Amazon, they will donate 0.5% of the price of eligible purchases to National Braille Press. AmazonSmile is simple and automatic. It's the same Amazon you know. Same products, same prices, same service.

Remember, if you want Amazon to donate to the charity you've selected, you need to start each shopping session at You can type into your browser's address bar or bookmark it. When you start at Amazon will donate 0.5% of the price of your eligible purchases to the charity of your choice.

Learn more about AmazonSmile - use this "one click" sign-up link to start supporting NBP while you shop!

Posted 12/1/2013

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