Skip to comments.NorCal Prisoners Transcribe Books Into Braille For Blind Students
Posted on 03/21/2013 7:30:44 AM PDT by BenLurkin
FOLSOM (CBSLA.com) 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 prisons 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 dont understand it. The rules are so hard. After a while, you get used to it. If I hit a dead-end, Ill 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 well emboss it and ship it out to the schools, he said.
Prisoners who participate in the Braille program receive many benefits.
Despite whatever crime theyve 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 theyre here to be punished. They know society wants them to be punished. These inmates always follow the rules, theyre always respectful and theyre willing to learn.
Nguyen said, I can change. I dont 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.
Itd be hard, said Koh.
Fox said shes not bothered that the prisoners help with the books.
I think its wonderful. I feel like both parties are getting almost the same benefit in a different way. Theyre getting skills that are going to help them in the future, she said.
The inmates next project in development is to transcribe for the Library of Congress.
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.
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.
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