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Braille Pilot Project 2018-19


In early 2018, we worked with a team of braille advocates, led by the Canadian Federation of the Blind, to present a vision on access to braille in Canadian public libraries. They did so with the paper, “Improving Braille Availability in Canadian Public Library.” Thanks to this work, NNELS is embarking on a Hardcopy and Electronic Braille Pilot Project to understand the potential for a shared public library collection of braille books.

With this pilot project, 50 hardcopy braille titles will be available in public libraries, and 50 electronic braille titles will be available from NNELS. We will track issues, successes, costs, and responses from libraries and readers.

How you can help 

In these early implementation stages, NNELS is looking for libraries who would like to participate at any capacity in this pilot project. We are seeking libraries who:

  • will continue to spread the good news and encourage reading request submissions
  • would like to host and lend some of the hardcopy braille in their regular collection
  • will provide ideas and/or feedback about lending and borrowing procedures
  • will collect and share feedback with NNELS from library staff and patrons about the overall experience

Any libraries who would like more information about this project or would like to take a more active role in participating in the early stages of the pilot, please contact us at


Traditionally, NNELS has produced electronic files and focused on high-quality e-text for easy conversion to other formats. Several years into the NNELS project, we continue to receive interest in both hardcopy and electronic braille so we recognize there is an unmet need for these materials.

Project Goals

We aim to answer the following questions:

  1. Is it feasible to build a shared public library collection of hardcopy braille books?
    • Does this model work for braille readers?
    • Can books be shared interprovincially? Given that not all Canadian libraries have access to our new national catalogue, what kind of sharing infrastructure might be required?
    • How can interested libraries and readers be made aware of this project?
  2. As libraries find a balance between book quality and cost, we must do the same. Where is that balance for hardcopy and electronic braille? We will consider braille quality, transcription and proof-reading, paper quality for hardcopy braille, and other factors including those identified by readers.
  3. What are the parameters and annual costs of a sustainable NNELS braille program?
  4. The paper recommended that NNELS contract with existing Canadian braille producers, many of which are owned and run by people with print disabilities themselves, rather than establishing its own braille production facility. What are the costs and benefits of this approach?


For more information about this project, or if you have questions or comments, please contact this project's coordinator, Riane LaPaire: