Braille: Into the Next Millennium, a 600-page anthology of articles by more than two dozen international experts in the field of braille, has been published jointly by the Library of Congress's National Library Service (NLS) and the Friends of Libraries for Blind and Physically Handicapped Individuals in North America. Braille literacy is currently a vital concern of advocacy groups of blind individuals and service providers.
In his foreword, former NLS director Frank Kurt Cylke notes, "With a tactile medium such as braille comes literacy spelling, writing, and broad communication possibilities are open and available. With literacy comes the possibility of freedom. With freedom comes the possibility of endless achievement from pleasant living to significant social contributions. Personal and institutional commitments to braille by enthusiasts in the United States have helped advance literacy for blind individuals in North America and have therefore advanced the possibility of freedom for thousands."
The book is divided into three parts. Part I, "Braille in the Past," includes three authors who discuss the origins of braille, embossed printing in the United States, and the homeplace of Louis Braille in France. Part II, "Braille in the Present," includes eighteen articles on such diverse subjects as the basic literary, mathematics (Nemeth), and music codes to modern refreshable braille displays and tactile graphics. Part III, "Braille in the Future," contains three authors who write about braille as a predictor of success, electronic distribution of braille, and future braille codes and fonts. In addition, there is an appendix of ASCII braille characters, a list of contributors, and an extensive bibliography.
According to the book's editor, Judith Dixon, consumer relations officer for NLS and originator of the concept for the book, "We trace braille from its beginnings through the myriad of current uses and also take a peek at the future. Each author is an expert in his or her field and has brought to this work a perspective that can be acquired only through experience and a profound closeness to the subject."
Kenneth Jernigan, who served for many years as president and then president emeritus of the National Federation of the Blind, states in his preface, "It is in this atmosphere of renewed opportunity and hope that the current book is produced. It will make a valuable contribution to the new emphasis on braille, and it will give historical background and perspective. It will also synthesize and draw together present thinking and point the way to the future."
The book will be available in braille and recorded formats for NLS readers by January 2001.
Print copies have been supplied to the world's major library institutions, as well as the significant university library collections in the United States and Canada through the Friends of Libraries for Blind and Physically Handicapped Individuals in North America.
Single print copies are available at no cost from the Reference Section, NLS, The Library of Congress, Washington, DC 20542, or email [email protected].