For more than 160 years, the American Printing House for the Blind (APH) in Louisville, Kentucky, has helped make independent life possible for blind and visually impaired individuals.
Groups can tour the 280,000-square-foot production facility that develops and creates more than 1,000 products, including material in Braille, large print, audio recordings and technology. There’s also an on-site museum.
“Our historic roots in Louisville start before the Kentucky Derby and even the Civil War,” said Rob Guillen, APH’s special programs coordinator. “Our celebrated legacy is one of hope and independence for people with vision loss. Our mission for 160 years has been to create products for anyone who is blind, to support their education and life. Mystery Tour operators love our location — because, in a region that’s known for horse-racing and distilling, we’re completely unexpected.”
On guided tours, groups see the production of Braille books and magazines, listen to a live recording of Talking Books, view a demonstration of educational materials designed for students who are blind and visually impaired, and explore an interactive museum.
At the APH Museum, visitors can play a computer game designed for blind students, see the first book ever embossed for blind readers in France and view Helen Keller’s writing desk. Artifacts, photographs and electronic displays show the development of Braille, the history of Talking Books and the history of accessible technology.
“We teach all of our guests to write their names in Braille, and they all love it,” Guillen said. “It’s fun, but it’s also easy, which is unexpected. Guests leave the tour with a memento of their visit — their name, or their children’s names or even a secret love note in braille!”
APH can accommodate groups of 60 people at one time. Tours can be customized to meet the needs of the group.
“Many of our guests leave full of hope, knowing that APH is passionate about accessibility and independence for people who are blind,” Guillen said. “Before they leave, our guests frequently say, ‘I never knew.’ They never knew how Braille worked. They never knew how much time, effort and materials it takes to create products for people who are blind. They never knew that an organization like ours even existed.”
For more information on the American Printing House for the Blind, call 800-223-1839 or visit aph.org.