In 1984 when Debra Bonde founded Seedlings, braille materials were scarce and expensive. Her goals were to increase the availability and lower the cost of braille books for children in order to promote their literacy skills and the love of reading. In 1985, the first year of book production, Debra made 221 books in her basement office. By 1990, Seedlings was producing 5,000 books per year, which precipitated its move out of Debra's basement and into the Bentley Center in Livonia, Michigan, and eventually to our present location on Farmington Road in Livonia. In 2011, with a small staff, and a group of loyal volunteers, Seedlings produced over 21,000 braille books and articles, with a grand total of 345,000 since 1984, equaling over 16 million pages of braille!
In 1994, Seedlings added The Rose Project, which provides encyclopedia articles in braille for student's projects and reports. The Rose Project has become a very popular resource for students eager to work independently. We anticipate requests for approximately 500 articles per year. Thanks to generous donations from our supporters, this service is entirely free to visually impaired students in grades 1-12.
Seedlings braille materials have opened up new worlds for thousands of children. Seedlings Braille Books for Children is keeping visually impaired children in the mainstream of popular literature and is reaching braille readers in all 50 states and over seventy five different countries. Seedlings contributes to literacy by providing visually impaired children equal opportunity to develop the love of reading. At this time, less than 20% of the 50,000 blind children in the United States are proficient in braille. All too often, the written word has been inaccessible to them, and this is what we are hoping to change.
Braille books are provided at each level of development, from toddler board books to classic literature for older children. Just as sighted children learn to "read" as they are exposed to the printed word, so do visually impaired children who are exposed to the tactile page at an early age. New titles are added every year as highly skilled volunteer braille transcribers spend countless donated hours translating print books into braille and preparing them for computer disk to await production. Once the original translation is complete, additional books can be printed as needed. Exposure to popular, high quality braille literature throughout childhood increases the likelihood of children developing into able braille readers