Donation puts Braille books in hands of visually impaired kids

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

Metro Detroit families with visually impaired children had a chance Tuesday to witness how books are designed for them, and a major donation is helping that process.

Area UPS Store locations donated $8,000 worth of books to Livonia-based Seedlings Braille Books for Children.

The donation is helping the nonprofit provide some 2,500 Scholastic books translated into Braille, the writing system for those with vision loss.

"For every 100 books a sighted child has, a blind child might only have five books. Braille books are rare and expensive — an average children’s book in Braille can cost $100," representatives said in a statement. "However, Seedlings can offer Braille books for free or at an average price of just $10 a book because they have donors and volunteers who off-set the costs of producing the books."

Seedlings board member Katelyn Kelel, CQ left, who suffers with blindness, hugs young braille reader Khara Gilmore, 7, of Ypsilanti, as Seedlings founder Debra Bonde looks on. 

As part of the "Toys for Tots Literacy Program", local UPS Store representatives announce an $8,000 donation of books to Seedlings Braille Books for Children during a press conference at the non-profit organization in Livonia, Michigan on November 13, 2018. Seedlings will translate the books into braille, yielding 2,500 books for children, ages 0-5 years, with vision loss.

Attendees on Tuesday saw volunteers add Braille's raised dots to books and learn more about how the works are produced.

The group of children who gathered at Seedlings on Tuesday had a chance to try out the converted stories, said Eric Ladwig, a local UPS Store franchise owner who spearheaded the donation.

"It was very empowering to see these young people reading the books," he said.