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NorCal Prisoners Transcribe Books Into Braille For Blind Students ^ | March 20, 2013 11:15 PM

Posted on 03/21/2013 7:30:44 AM PDT by BenLurkin

FOLSOM ( — Northern California prisoners are part of a nationwide effort to ensure blind students receive quality textbooks at school.

Inmates from Folsom State Prison are paid 30 to 95 cents an hour to transcribe print books into Braille as part of the prison’s Digital Services Enterprise Unit.

“Inmate Nguyen” from Hawthorne, sentenced to life in prison for attempted murder, said he has dedicated his time to learning how to transcribe the reading and writing system used by the blind and visually impaired.

“At first I was like, I don’t understand it. The rules are so hard. After a while, you get used to it. If I hit a dead-end, I’ll go ask one of the guys,” he said.

“Inmate Ray,” who works in the publishing department, said some of the prisoners transcribe, while others emboss.

“We either have files we created here or we get electronic files from other agencies…such as the biggest client is the California Department of Education. So they can email us the files and we’ll emboss it and ship it out to the schools,” he said.

Prisoners who participate in the Braille program receive many benefits.

“Despite whatever crime they’ve committed, they are really helping people who are in need. And that helps a lot with the rehabilitation process,” said Eric Reslock of the California Prison Industry Authority.

Reslock continued, “They know they’re here to be punished. They know society wants them to be punished. These inmates always follow the rules, they’re always respectful and they’re willing to learn.”

Nguyen said, “I can change. I don’t want to be the same person that came to prison. I can grow past that and become a better person.”

Leslie Fox, an instructor for the blind and visually impaired at Casimir Middle School in Torrance, said they had a shortage of Braille books.

“We really need anyone we can get to do that job,” she said. (The children need the books.) Without it, they would have to do everything (with audio), which would put them at a disadvantage at a general education class. They need it to be successful.”

Eighth-grade students Sha Shows and Edier Koh, who have been blind since birth, have been using Braille books practically all their lives.

They said things would be more difficult without a special-made text.

“It’d be hard,” said Koh.

Fox said she’s not bothered that the prisoners help with the books.

“I think it’s wonderful. I feel like both parties are getting almost the same benefit in a different way. They’re getting skills that are going to help them in the future,” she said.

The inmate’s next project in development is to transcribe for the Library of Congress.

TOPICS: Books/Literature

1 posted on 03/21/2013 7:30:44 AM PDT by BenLurkin
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To: BenLurkin
Good story.

Japanese prisons have a low recidivism rate, there are almost no riots and prison violence and games like "drop the soap" are pretty much nonexistent.

A big part of the reason is that jailbirds put in 16 hour work days doing projects like this.

They earn a pittance, but it adds up to something to start out a new life with by the time they get out. Or something to make life a little more pleasant on the inside if they are serving life without parole.

2 posted on 03/21/2013 7:37:57 AM PDT by Vigilanteman (Obama: Fake black man. Fake Messiah. Fake American. How many fakes can you fit in one Zer0?)
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To: BenLurkin

Good to see them doing something useful, but it’s hard to imagine that there is not a braille-embossing machine out there to do this automatically.

3 posted on 03/21/2013 7:47:29 AM PDT by Rio (Tempis Fugit.)
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To: Rio
Good to see them doing something useful, but it’s hard to imagine that there is not a braille-embossing machine out there to do this automatically.

I have a blind friend. I called a local braille transcribing service to see what it would cost to get my book set in braille. $3000+. Braille printers cost thousands. I'm waiting for 3D printers to be used to print braille and bring the price down.

4 posted on 03/21/2013 9:17:16 AM PDT by aimhigh ( Guns do not kill people. Abortion kills people.)
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