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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 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.

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, and 5 more English books, and 1 more French book in 2020. 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.


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