Impact Georgia Magazine April - Page 5

IMPACT GEORGIA MAGAZINE APRIL 2019

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By Kasandra Ortiz | kasandra.ortiz@gdc.ga.gov

Braille PROGRAM CHANGES LIVES

On March 21, Central State Prison (SP) held its Annual Braille Expo. The program teaches offenders to transcribe textbooks for visually impaired students in grades K-12 across the United States. During the expo, offenders were able to demonstrate how to transcribe words into braille, how the pages are produced and even how they transcribe graphics and illustrations for the students.

“Every year the event gives the offenders a chance to show others how the program is helping them give back,” said Timothy C. Ward, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Corrections. “Not only is the program giving them a sense of purpose, but it providing them a skill that they can use to find a job when they are released.”

The Braille program started in Georgia in 2003 and moved to Central SP in 2011. The Georgia Braille Transcriber Program at Central SP is one of 23 prison braille programs in the U.S. and is the only one in Georgia. In 2018, GDC offenders translated a total of 700 books and more than 5,000 graphics. That totaled to more than 76,000 pages translated.

In attendance were media outlets, former offenders who have started Braille translation businesses based on the skills they learned while in the program, and Georgia Superintendent Richard Woods. He says the translations are helping more than 3,000 students in Georgia alone.

“I’ve been impressed by what I’ve seen. Foreign langues, music and even illustrations are being translated,” says Woods. “I want the offenders to know their work is having an impact on our students everyday.”

Currently, there are 25 Central SP offenders helping translate and none of the offenders who have graduated from the Braille program have returned to prison.

VIDEO and photos by Kasandra ortiz AND MARCUS FLOYD

Braille Expo at Central State Prison Helps Students