Bright future for Braille as charity opens new Scottish Braille Press

Press Release | 05/06/2018

Today, Royal Blind officially opened its new Scottish Braille Press premises and begins a modern chapter in the production of Braille, large print and audio publications for nearly two hundred thousand blind and partially sighted people in Scotland. 

Staff gather outside the Scottish Braille PressThe new state of the art premises in Gorgie in Edinburgh were officially opened by Maureen Watt MSP, Minister for Mental Health. To mark the occasion Christina, a pupil from the Royal Blind School, read a poem in Doric which was transcribed into Braille and was presented to the Minister who took her oath in Doric when she was sworn into office as an MSP.

The Scottish Braille Press has moved from its Edinburgh home of over 100 years in Craigmillar Park as it expands its business and provides vital new employment opportunities for disabled people.   Moving to its new premises has enabled the organisation to grow its workforce to 103 employees, of whom nearly half are disabled, including people who are vision impaired. Currently in Scotland disabled people are twice as likely to be out of work than non-disabled people.

Maureen Watt poses with pupil Christina The Scottish Braille Press, founded in 1890, is part of Royal Blind, Scotland’s largest vision impairment charity, which is celebrating its 225th anniversary this year. The Chief Executive of Royal Blind Mark O’Donnell said:

“It is a mark of the success and importance of the Scottish Braille Press that we have established these new hi-tech premises where the business can prosper further still. It will ensure that thousands of people with sight loss can enjoy access to a whole range of publications, from books to bank statements.  Braille remains important but there is an ever-growing demand for accessible formats large print and audio. 

“With more and more people living with sight loss there is a greater demand for these accessible formats, and this means the Scottish Braille Press has trebled its business over the past ten years. We are proud that this means we can increase the number of employment opportunities we provide for disabled people who too often face barriers in the workplace.”  

Maureen Watt MSP, Minister for Mental Health who has responsibility for sensory impairment said:

“The opening of these new premises for the Scottish Braille Press is an exciting and important development for an organisation that has done so much for sight impaired and severely sight impaired people in Scotland. People with vision impairments should have the same access to books, magazines and important personal documents that others enjoy, and that is why the work of the Scottish Braille Press is so important. Through our ‘See Hear’ strategy, supported by £3.5 million since 2014, we are committed to ensuring that people with a visual impairment in Scotland can access the services and support they need. 

“And I am delighted to have received a copy of ‘Nicky Tams’ in Braille and Doric from Christina, who is learning Braille herself. This shows that Braille in Scotland not only has a proud history but an important role in our future too.”