Writing and Producing Braille

Raised dot systems like braille not only offered access to reading.  Students could use slates and styluses to take their own notes. Future CFLB and CNIB Librarian Sherman Swift, for example, was said to have copied 6,000 pages with his “punch” en route to matriculating with honours from his Petrolia high school.

Typewriters had limitations for blind users, but modifications to the technology led to the development of “braille writers” which offered blind writers the gift of speed. Braille writers in the first half of the 20th century included the Picht Braillewriter, which was developed in Germany, and was in production between 1899 and the 1930s, and the braille typewriter manufactured by the Braille Institute of America, which began manufacture in the U.S. in 1946.

Before 1918 Braille book production was limited in Canada to some embossed-print texts printed at the Halifax and Ontario Schools for Blind. This changed with the new printing and publishing division of the newly formed CNIB.  After the merger with CNIB, the Library department began to print the "Braille Courier," a monthly current events magazine, in a run sufficient to provide all members of the Library with their own copy.