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American Printing House for the Blind

The American Printing House for the Blind (APH) is located in Louisville, Kentucky. APH produces braille and large print textbooks, leisure-reading materials, educational aids such as computer software, braille/large print calendars and much more. Their products are sold throughout the United States and the world.

Here's a little history about APH and how it came to be:

Between 1829 and 1855, a number of schools for blind children were begun in the United States. However, there were very few books for the children to read.

According to the APH website, "In 1856 Dempsey D. Sherrod, a blind man from Mississippi, began to canvass his home state to raise funds for the establishment of a national publishing house to produce books in raised letters. Sherrod convinced the state of Mississippi (in 1857) to issue a charter of incorporation to aid in establishing a publishing house, to be located in Louisville, Kentucky.

"In 1858 the General Assembly of Kentucky passed an act to establish the American Printing House for the Blind. In 1860 APH received its first operating funds from private citizens in Mississippi and Kentucky - $1000 from each state. Superintendent Bryce M. Patten ordered a press, and the Printing House was set up in basement rooms in the Kentucky Institution for the Education of the Blind (now the Kentucky School for the Blind)."

The Southern states had agreed to send money to help with the costs, but the Civil War changed those plans.

The war ended in 1865. "A state allocation from Kentucky, along with individual donations from Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and Illinois allowed the Printing House to begin the work for which it was founded. APH produced its first book in 1866, 'Fables and Tales for Children', in Boston line letter", a system for reading that pre-dated the use of braille in this country.

In 1879 the first Federal legislation benefiting blind children was passed, providing funds for the production of books at APH. Today, this funding provides books, writing equipment, maps and other educational aids for blind children across the country, and it is called the Federal Quota program.

Braille gradually became the only reading system produced by APH, phasing out other more cumbersome systems between 1900 and 1930. APH began brailling "The Reader's Digest" in 1928, and a recorded (Talking Book) version appeared in 1939. Large type textbook production began in 1948, and braille production began to be computerized in 1964.

APH now produces a wide variety of products for children and adults. Check out the Adult Life Catalog, Family Life Catalog and Bookstore Catalog.

APH also maintains some very helpful databases that are searchable and free. Fred's Head is packed with tips and techniques for living with vision loss, and the Louis database allows you to find out if a textbook has been recorded, brailled, or produced in large print anywhere in the United States.

If you live near Louisville, Kentucky, or if you happen to be passing through, stop by APH for a tour. See how braille, large print and recorded books are made; visit their wonderful museum of historical artifacts related to the blind. Tours are available weekdays only, and are free; call for specific times.

APH contact info:
. American Printing House for the Blind
. 1839 Frankfort Avenue
. Louisville, KY 40206
. Phone: (502)895-2405 or (800)223-1839

Learn more by visiting the APH website at:


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