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NLS Press Release

First-Ever Braille Summit To Solicit Ideas on Promoting and Supporting Braille Literacy


For immediate release
May 2, 2013
Contact: Judith Dixon
(202) 707-0722 or jdix@loc.gov

More than fifty braille readers, braille literacy professionals, librarians, and others with a stake in the future of braille will gather at Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, Massachusetts, June 19–21, for a Braille Summit. The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), Library of Congress, has organized the event—the first of its kind—in concert with Perkins to solicit ideas on ways libraries can promote and support braille literacy.

“For people who are blind, braille is the only true form of literacy—but many cannot read braille and have no opportunity to learn it,” says Karen Keninger, director of NLS. “NLS hopes that bringing together experts from across America and around the world will help us pinpoint the issues affecting braille literacy and develop fresh solutions for addressing them.”

The conference, which will open with a keynote speech by Peter Osborne, chief braille officer of the Royal National Institute of Blind People in the United Kingdom, will be organized around five major tracks: Braille Readers, Library Selection and Collection Development, Braille Production, Braille Technology, and Promoting Braille Literacy and Awareness. Participants will have the opportunity to listen to experts in each of those subject areas and then engage in facilitated discussions with their peers. Time will also be set aside for attendees to explore exhibits featuring new technological developments and best practices in braille. An agenda listing all events and speakers is available at http://www.loc.gov/nls/conferences/braillesummit/agenda.html.

“Recommendations generated at the summit will help shape braille programs and priorities for the future of the NLS library network,” says Keninger. NLS plans to publicly release a summary of recommendations once the event is complete.

NLS administers the free program that loans materials to residents of the United States and U.S. citizens living abroad who are unable to read or use standard print materials because of visual or physical handicaps. These materials include braille and recorded books and magazines, music scores in braille and large print and specifically designed playback equipment. For more information about NLS at the Library of Congress, visit www.loc.gov/nls.

Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world, with nearly 142 million items in various languages, disciplines and formats. The Library serves the U.S. Congress and the nation both on site, in its reading rooms on Capitol Hill, and through its award-winning website at www.loc.gov.

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Posted on 2013-06-28