Note, If you haven’t read the overview on Making Braille Books at Home, start there.
Brailling & Erasing
Perkins brailler: We have ours on long-term loan from our regional library for the blind. For a while we also had one provided by our TVI that she ordered with quota funds. You need one for your child to braille on at home, and you can use it to braille with when they aren’t using it.
- Tip: These things need maintenance every once in a while. If you keys start sticking, or it otherwise starts giving you trouble–swap it out at your library for the blind for a fresh one and let them do the maintenance on the one you hand in. I’ve looked at the you-tube video on how to maintain one yourself and I am not trying that at home!
- Braille Eraser: Yes, you are going to need one :). Available from Perkins Products or from Maxi AIDS, among other places.
Obviously you need some braille paper to do any brailling. It turns out there are a few choices, and the choice matters! The thicker the paper, the better lasting your braille work (after a while braille dots wear down) but the harder I find it to braille.
One option is to buy print books, say some easy readers from Amazon, and then add braille to them. For this you need clear braille label sheets. I have been using APH braille label sheets, which are better lasting than paper but much tougher to braille. Recently I’ve tried American Thermoform braille label sheets, which are cheaper and thinner and easier to braille–not sure yet if any downsides.
The other option is to create your books entirely from scratch with braille paper. In this case you need to choose what weight of paper to use. I use heavier weight paper that lasts longer for flash cards. For books, though, I choose a lighter weight paper because I find brailling easier and faster. My fingers can really fly with the thin paper! Now for some braille papers sources:
- Lightweight 70 lb braille paper from MaxiAIDs.com. Maxi AIDS paper is cheap but they don’t do free matter for the blind shipping so it ends up not as cheap in the end. But the benefit is that you get it promptly. Free matter for the blind shipping is sometimes not so reliable. So I like this option. I use this for books.
- Heavy weight 90 lb braille paper from MaxiAIDs.com. I use this for flash cards.
- You can also find braille paper from Perkins Products (light or heavy weight), American Thermoform, and American Printing House (APH) for the Blind, although I haven’t tried any of them.
- I’ve been buying my Braille label sheets from APH here, but think my new favorites are the ones American Thermoform sells because they are cheaper and easier to braille.
Recently I’ve been brailling some longer books. For instance, I just finished brailling a copy of The Princess in Black Takes a Vacation by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale. With pictures this was about 45 sheets of paper. So I’ve started doing a serious binding. For $5-$6 Staples or the UPS Store will bind something like this while you wait with a coil binding, black vinyl back cover, and clear front cover. After all the time put into brailling the books I’m happy to have this nice finish.
However, most of the braille books I have done have been more like 7 page affairs that deserve something quicker. For these I’ve been doing a three-hole punch with a heavy duty punch (something like this) so I can store the finished product in 3-ring binders. But for reading, I’ve just been holding them together with a 1″ loose leaf binder ring (example) in the corner. These binder rings are great. You can do 2 down the left edge of the book, rather than one in the top left corner to be a bit more book like. I also use them in the 1.5″ size (example) for thick flash-card packs. To punch a hole in the corner of a book or of flash cards for a binder ring, you want a really good hole punch. I found a really good one that is terrific–I recommend it.
When you are adding brailled label sheets to an existing book you don’t need to worry about binding, but there is a lot of cutting to do. Do yourself a favor and get a decent paper cutter. I got this 12 inch swingline paper trimmer, and it is working out great. Just remember to keep it latched and out of reach when not in use. These things are good for cutting off fingers!
Computer, Printer, Software
Smart phone, PC, and printer help. A fast black and white laser printer will make this quicker but any home printer will work. Software: I have the full paid version of Acrobat, not just the free Acrobat Reader, software. It does make some tasks fast and easy, but it is probably not worth buying if you don’t have it. For screen captures, I also found dropbox desktop software handy (free for a small account).