One of the best-known works by author Ellen White, Steps to Christ, is now available in the international Braille system. The work is the result of the efforts of the Adventist Possibilities Ministries (APM) and should benefit blind people who know the system. The launch took place Monday, May 8, 2023, during the Plenary Steering Committee of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in South America.
There is no precise count of how many people in the world today can read with the Braille system. The World Health Organization estimates that there are about 253 million visually impaired people in the world, about 36 million of whom are completely blind. In Brazil, an estimated 6.5 million people are blind or have low vision. Many of them rely on the Braille system as a means of reading and writing, but not all of them have access to it.
Generally, by practice, the person who was born blind or lost sight very early in life, in the literacy phase, usually masters the Braille system. In addition, it is important to have a clear understanding of the Braille system, as it can be used to teach people how to read and write.
According to Pastor Alacy Barbosa, APM’s South American director, one of the greatest challenges is to make church materials, programs, projects, and activities accessible to everyone. Juliana Santos, APM’s advisor for ministries working with the blind, explains that the Braille system is indispensable for broadening evangelism. “The church has a great opportunity to be a light in this sense. We have all the structure and conditions for this. What is lacking, perhaps, is a greater understanding of the importance of this and that the Gospel really needs to reach everyone,” he adds.
The book The Road to Christ was produced by the Louis Braille Printing Press, from Minas Gerais. The transposition of the text in ink to the system and the production of the physical book took about a month. The result was a two-volume, A4-size book with a total of 140 pages (front and back).
A book in Braille format requires more care, since all reading takes place through tactile contact. For this reason, the production process for this type of material is more expensive and time-consuming. There are six basic steps:
- The original book in ink, in .pdf format, goes through the linearization process.
- The same original book passes into the hands of the descriptor.
- The Braille editor (an expert both in editing/layout and Braille) receives the linearized text and the text with descriptions (in case the book has images). This begins the process of assembling the book on the system. The editor puts in all the necessary codes and does the specific layout in Braille.
- The material is reviewed by another Braille editor.
- The material is sent to the Braille proofreader (necessarily a professional with visual impairment).
- The book is printed in Braille and reaches the reader by different means.
Barbosa pointed out that Adventist administrative headquarters are working to set up Braille libraries in the main churches. In the second half of this year, orders are expected to be placed for this edition of Steps to Christ, including in Braille.
For 2024, according to Barbosa, the intention is to have two more books by Ellen White released in this format, in addition to a series of Bible studies.
Braille is a tactile reading-and-writing system for the visually impaired. It is based on a code of raised dots that can be read with the fingers. The system was created by Louis Braille in 1824, when he was only 15 years old.
The system is based on an arrangement of six raised dots, arranged in two columns of three dots each. Each dot is numbered from 1 to 6, and the dots are combined in various configurations to represent the letters of the alphabet, numbers, and other symbols.
There are 63 possible combinations of raised dots in this system, including the configuration of all raised dots, which represents blank space. In addition to letters, the Braille system also includes symbols for numbers, punctuation marks, and special characters, such as mathematical and musical symbols.