Southfield (CW50) – Reading is the foundation to a good education, and within the blind community, braille books are really the best way for early childhood education to include reading. Braille books are expensive to make and expensive to purchase, making it challenging for for-profit companies to find a sustainable foothold in the market.

Seedlings Braille Books for Children took the nonprofit route to find sustainability in the market to help the community that is in much need of braille books. Seedlings was founded in 1984 by Debra Bonde. In 1985, the first year of book production, Debra made 221 books in her basement office. By 1990, Seedlings was producing 5,000 books per year. In 2020, Seedlings is located in a larger building, with a small staff, and a group of loyal volunteers, producing nearly 30,000 braille books and articles (60% of which were given away for free), with a grand total of 608,885 since 1984, equalling over 25 million pages of braille.

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From toddlers to classic literature for older children, Seedlings offers a variety of books to cover several years of educational development. Being that it’s a nonprofit organization, Seedlings gives away about half of their books and sells the rest for a fraction of what it costs to make them. Support comes from individual donations, philanthropic groups, corporations and private foundations.

Community Connect Host Lisa Germani, with Debra Bonde, Founder and Director of Seedlings Braille Books for Children

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Debra Bonde, Founder of Seedlings Braille Books for Children, joins Lisa Germani on Community Connect to talk about the process of creating braille books, how they get their funding, and what it means to her personally to provide this support to the community.

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