Founded in 1858, American Printing House for the Blind, Inc. (APH) is the world’s largest non-profit organization to create educational, workplace, and independent living products for people who are blind and visually impaired.
In the summer of 2011, Dolly Parton's Imagination Library (DPIL) partnered with American Printing House for the Blind, Inc. (APH) to make many of the books in DPIL available in braille and audio format so that blind and visually impaired children can also benefit from these children's books.
The Dollywood Foundation states, “As of now, thanks to a collaborative effort between” DPIL, APH, and the publishing house Penguin Group, USA, “an ever expanding collection of titles will be available as free downloadable children's audio books and for those who prefer, there will be many titles available in braille from APH. These will be offered free-of-charge to eligible families and may be purchased at a low cost by all others.”
At the time they announced the partnership, APH President Tuck Tinsley said, "We're excited! What an honor it is to partner with someone like Dolly who is as passionate about literacy as we are. This relationship between The Imagination Library and the American Printing House for the Blind means that blind and visually impaired preschoolers can now be more involved in the experience of reading with their parents."
Ms. Parton said, "Any credit I get is really due to the hard work and fine reputation of all of those who partner with us to bring the love of reading to so many kids. I am just thrilled we can work together to bring this same joy to all children who may have trouble seeing but have no trouble in believing that all of their dreams can come true."
Young Miss Cameron Burkett was the first recipient of a braille edition of a DPIL book in a ceremony at Imagination Library’s Homecomin’ 2011 finale at Dollywood Family Adventure Park’s Penguin Playhouse. In addition to making braille editions of some DPIL books available, each month, APH records and posts audio files of that month's book selections to the APH/DPIL Partnership Web site.
DPIL and APH state, “This gives DPIL members who are unable to read print due to a visual impairment or physical disability a way to download and listen to the books. Other members of the National Library Service (NLS), a program for individuals unable to read print, can also access the audio book files. By the end of each year, all of the current year's DPIL books — about 75 books — will be available at the Partnership website.”
The APH/DPIL audio book files are encrypted so they cannot be played on consumer MP3 players. They can only be played on a digital playback device loaned from the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), Library of Congress, or another device approved by NLS, like the APH Book Port Plus™.
One can donate money online here to the APH to help defray initial costs and expand DPIL/APH program. If one has an eligible child and wants to register online or print out a form, fill it out, and mail it in, one should go to this Web page, which is also where one should go if one is already in the program and needs to stop it or report a change of address.
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library program is somewhat different for blind and seeing-impaired children. They receive five free large-print or braille books per year up to their sixth birthdays. To be eligible for the program, a child must be age five and under, likely to use braille as his (or her) future reading medium, and both the parent (or guardian) and the child must reside in the U.S. or Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, or the U.S. Virgin Islands.