Before you order a Bible in Braille from Jehovah’s Witnesses, make sure you have room to keep it. The complete New World Translation—published in English, Spanish, and Italian Braille—ranges from 18 to 28 volumes and requires a minimum of two meters (6 ft 5 in) of shelf space!
Other formats require less room than a Bible on embossed paper. Braille note takers enable the blind both to take notes and to access electronically stored information by means of a portable device having pins that raise and lower to produce Braille symbols. The blind can also locate and listen to publications with the help of screen readers, which convert written text into the spoken word.
Additionally, the Witnesses have developed a computer program that is capable of transcribing text into Braille in many languages. After a conversion table is set up containing both the vernacular print and the Braille characters, the program is able to convert text into Braille. It also formats the publication in a way that makes it easy for the blind to read. This automation will make it possible to produce Braille publications, including the Braille Bible, in virtually any language that has Braille characters, including those that use non-Roman scripts.
For more than 100 years, the Witnesses have produced Bible-based publications for the blind, and these are now available in 19 languages. Though interested blind people can have these publications without charge, most make a voluntary donation.
Previously when a new publication was released at a convention of the Witnesses, the audience was told that the releases in Braille could be ordered later. Last year, the United States branch office surveyed the congregations to find out which convention blind individuals planned to attend and which format (embossed paper, electronic note taker, or electronic screen reader) they preferred.
Embossed paper copies were shipped to the conventions that had blind individuals in attendance, which made it possible for them to receive the new releases at the same time as everyone else. Electronic formats were e-mailed to each person a week after their convention.
A blind Witness said: “It was a wonderful privilege to receive the literature along with everyone else. Psalm 37:4 says that Jehovah will give us the requests of our heart. He did that this weekend!” Another began to weep and said: “They were thinking of me. Thanks to Jehovah for caring for us so well.”