Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The History of the American Printing House for the Blind


1854: A blind Kentuckian, Morrison Heady, collects donations for the embossing of Milton's Paradise Lost in raised letters.

1856: Dempsey B. Sherrod, a blind man from Mississippi, travels his home state to raise funds to manufacture books in raised letters. By 1857, he has convinced the state of Mississippi to charter a national "Publishing House to Print Books in Raised Letters, for the Benefit of the Blind." The company will be located in Louisville, Kentucky.

1858: The General Assembly of Kentucky Passed An Act To Establish the American Printing House for the Blind.

1860: The American Printing House for the Blind (APH) raises its first operating funds from private citizens in Mississippi and Kentucky -- $1,000 from each. Superintendent Bryce M. Patten orders a press, and an operation is set up in the basement of the Kentucky Institution for the Education of the Blind.

1861: Before the fledgling institution begins to emboss books, the Civil War breaks out, wiping out any possibility of the southern states making good on their promises of funding.

1865: The war ends and a state allocation from Kentucky, along with individual donations from Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, and Illinois, allows the Printing House to begin work. The following year, APH produces its first book, Fables and Tales for Children, in Boston Line Letter.

1870s: A Federal Subsidy For Embossed Books

1876: APH earns a reputation for quality and its central location provides easy access to river and rail transportation. The American Association of Instructors of the Blind (AAIB) elects a committee to draft a bill to provide federal funding for blind students.

1879: On March 3, 1879, the first federal act benefiting blind students passes. The "Act to Promote the Education of the Blind" provides funding to the Printing House for embossed books and apparatus for blind students throughout the country. This funding continues today through the Federal Quota Program.

Image: Morrison Heady


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