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Braille at NNELS


Based on the recommendations from the 2018 paper “Improving Braille Availability in Canadian Public Library”, NNELS embarked on a two-year, two-part braille pilot project to understand the potential for a shared public library collection of braille books.

Both the NNELS Print-Braille Collection and Distributed Braille Collection are funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Social Development Partnerships Program – Disability Component.

Distributed Braille Collection

In year one, 50 hardcopy braille and 50 electronic braille titles were made available through NNELS. Based on requests from Canadian braille readers, books were selected by a team of librarians and the Braille Production Coordinator, with the physical hardcopy books distributed to 14 volunteer host libraries across Canada, and the electronic braille books made available in the NNELS repository. The physical braille books in this collection are made available to any Canadian library through inter-library loan from the host libraries.

During its second year, the Distributed Braille Collection focused on growing its title availability by working with publishers to determine which books were produced as part of the Braille for New Publications Project. 9 of the 21 books produced were simultaneous releases, where the braille was made available on the same day as its print counterpart. Simultaneous braille and print releases are quite rare and a huge step toward an equitable reading experience for braille users.

In year three the Distributed Braille Collection added 30 new titles, 11 of which were simultaneous releases. Six libraries volunteered to become braille host libraries. Having twenty host libraries and adding more braille titles helps contribute to develop and grow a more equitable reading landscape in Canada.

Print-Braille Collection

In 2018, 15 English print-braille books were produced for NNELS by a team from the Vision Impaired Resource Network (VIRN) in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Copies of these 15 books were distributed to each province and territory in Canada, with the idea that public library networks in every region will be able to share these books locally and amongst each other.

Using the same distribution model, 5 French print-braille books were produced by VIRN and added to the NNELS Print-Braille Collection in 2019, with 5 more English books, and 1 more French book in both 2020 and 2021. We are also experimenting with having some of these books made available through the Distributed Braille Collection’s host libraries.

Electronic braille files of the books in the Print-Braille Collection are available in the NNELS repository to read with a refreshable braille display or notetaker.

Host Libraries

NNELS is proud to have 20 volunteer public libraries across Canada who host the Distributed Braille Collection. If your public library is interested in creating a braille collection of its own, or hosting books in the NNELS Distributed Braille Collection, contact To find out which titles are available or to request a braille title visit the NNELS Repository, or one of the host libraries:

Braille Tutorials and Assistive Technology Recommendations

To support NNELS braille users, we provide tutorials on transferring, opening, and reading books from the NNELS catalogue on different braille displays.

To learn more about different braille displays and notetakers, we’ve compiled a list of available options on the market in our Assistive Technology Recommendations.


For more information about these projects, or if you have questions, comments, or feedback, please contact