March is Reading Month and one of our readers submitted this inspiring blog post to GNN. If you have an interesting story of kindness or positivity, make sure and send it to us for review.
According to the National Federation of the Blind, less than 10 percent of the 1.3 million legally blind people in the United States are Braille readers, but one woman has made an incredible difference in their lives.
35 years ago, our son, Jared, was born blind. Fortunately, I learned about the organization that changed her life when Jared’s teacher for the visually impaired introduced us to Seedlings Children’s Braille Books.
It was founded by Debra Bonde and although she didn’t plan to start a nonprofit in 1984, she ended up helping blind children around the world.
A shy woman, she just wanted to find a volunteer job that she could do without having to talk to anyone. So, he enrolled in a braille transcription class in hopes of translating books into braille in the basement of his home in Detroit.
Debra began transcribing popular children’s books, such as Oh, the ideas you can think of!, by printing them on a braille printer his father had made and selling them for the price of paper.
Word spread among parents and teachers of blind children and the demand for more of their books grew. Friends helped her form a non-profit organization so that she could start receiving grants and donations to help with production costs. He called it Seedlings Braille Books for Children because he believes that if you gift a book to a child, the love of reading will grow. That first year he printed 221 books.
Since its humble beginnings 37 years ago, Seedlings has produced and distributed more than 600,000 books around the world. They give away half of their books for free. The other half sells for an average price of just $ 10 each, about half the cost of production. (They also sell braille charms, t-shirts and gifts through your website.)
As a parent, I appreciated that the Seedlings provided “typical” experiences for Jared at school. Seedlings supplied braille books to libraries at the schools Jared attended so that he could check out books like his sighted peers. Since Seedlings’ books were affordable, it was possible to have a home library. In addition to buying books, Jared used to receive free books from Seedlings through one of their many gift programs.
Today Jared is a software engineer, married with two children, ages 1 and 3.
“Without knowing how to read and write, skills impossible to learn just by listening to speech, I could never have graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in telecommunications.”
“Without the child literacy skills that Seedlings gave me, I wouldn’t have a job in the modern workforce with the amount of reading and writing that most jobs require.”
Today, she uses Seedling books to read to her sighted children.
“With the birth of my daughter, Harper, and my son, Logan, the Seedlings have now come full circle in my life,” he told GNN. “I read to them the Seedlings picture books, which have both print and braille.”
Since 2012, Jared has served on the Seedlings Board of Directors, making a shocking difference in children’s lives, in the same way that Seedlings did for him.
CLOCK these great people in action …
SHARE this fantastic non-profit organization with your friends on social media …