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A student reading a braille book and smiling

About the National Prison Braille Network

Since 2002, APH has worked to develop relationships between vision professionals, whose primary focus is to obtain accessible educational materials for braille readers, and prison officials, whose goal it is to prepare inmates for reentry into society. To date, there are 44 programs operating in 31 states.

Prison Braille Network Timeline


First two prison braille programs in the U.S. were established.


Surge of new prison braille programs as a result of a significant shift in the educational environment of blind students.


Surge of new prison braille programs continues.


First survey of braille production facilities conducted by APH. 23 prison braille programs in operation across the U.S.


Directory of Prison Braille Programs is released. 36 prison braille programs operating in 31 states.


44 prison braille programs operating in 31 states.

Prior to the 1980s, most students who were blind received their education in residential state schools for the blind. In the 80s and 90s, a shift in the educational outlook for students with vision impairments created an increase in the demand for braille textbooks, resulting in a surge of new prison braille programs.

Today about 90% of blind students are educated in mainstream schools. Because most textbooks are selected at the local level, the demand continues to increase for braille transcribers who can provide braille textbooks to students with visual impairments at the same time as their sighted peers—as mandated by federal law.

This growth in the number of participants in the NPBN not only demonstrates the high level of preparation inmates are receiving to be productive citizens upon their release but is the direct response to an increased demand for braille.

To find out more about how APH assists in this preparation, read about our Braille Transcriber Apprentice Program (BTAP).

NPBN Forum

The primary purpose of the NPBN Forum is to provide people working with braille production facilities in prisons with opportunities to discuss common concerns, identify resources, celebrate accomplishments, and explore solutions to the unique challenges that these programs present. It provides a chance to network and learn from colleagues across the country.

A meeting at the National Prison Braille Forum