Fred’s Head from APH, a Blindness Blog

Fred’s Head, offered by the American Printing House for the Blind, contains tips, techniques, tutorials, in-depth articles, and resources for and by blind or visually impaired people. Our blog is named after the legendary Fred Gissoni, renowned for answering a seemingly infinite variety of questions on every aspect of blindness.

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Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Seedling Braille Books Founder, Debra Bonde and Making a Difference

by Kristie Smith-Armand, M.Ed, CTVI

One person can make a difference and every person should try”
-John F. Kennedy

Back in 1984, when Debra Bonde, Seedlings Braille Books for Children’s founder and director began transcribing Braille books for kids, no one, not even the founder, could have imagined that years later, Seedlings Braille Books for Children would produce over 300,000 books for children who are blind. What started off as simple as transcribing Braille books for children while using an old Perkin’s Brailler in the basement of Debra’s home, has now turned into a major nonprofit corporation.

Seedlings Braille books currently serves children in the United States, Canada and all over the world. This amazing company would never have existed if it had not been for Debra Bonde’s generous and giving heart. Back in 1978, Debra knew that she wanted to make a difference in the lives of others, and she did, and continues to do, just that for so many children who are Braille readers.

When Debra began transcribing, she talked to a mother of a child who could not see. The mother told Ms. Bonde that there were very few Braille books for children to read, and that conversation ignited Debra Bonde’s passion to help children who were blind to be able to read and enjoy numerous books like other kids.

Debra has won many awards such as: Delta Kappa Society’s “Woman of the Year Award”, “Stand on a Better World” presented by Billie Jean King and was also named “Michiganian of the Year”.

Mrs. Bonde has also created many projects that help children and their families to receive free Braille books like, “The Rose Project” which gives out free encyclopedia articles in Braille, and one special project that is dear to Debra’s heart, “Anna’s Book Angel Project”. “Anna’s Book Angel Project” was developed after a drunk driver killed Debra’s nineteen-year-old daughter, Anna while she was on her way to tutor disadvantage children. “Anna’s Book Angel Project” (now called “The Book Angel Program) generously delivers two free Braille books a year to blind children in the U.S. and Canada.

Through these generous projects the company and its selfless creator continue to want to help children who are blind and make a difference in the world.

You can imagine my delight when Debra contacted me on Facebook. I am a teacher for the blind and visually impaired as well as an author of books that teach that people with disabilities can do great things. When I received an inbox message from the creator of Seedlings I was speechless. Debra asked me if I would be interested in Seedlings producing my novel series, The Adventures of Abby Diamond into Braille. I immediately answered Debra back and told her I was so excited that I made myself dizzy. (I am not known to play hard to get).

What was really amazing is that Abby Diamond is the only self-published book that Seedlings has ever done. I was brought to tears when Debra said that they wanted to produce Abby because she is a wholesome, independent and smart girl who happens to be blind. Abby Diamond and her best friends: Neils, Andrea, Alison, Jaxson and Glen solve mysteries that are constantly finding them.

Seedlings Braille Books for Children is going to edit Abby Diamond and put her into Braille, and I could not be happier as I have often prayed for a quality and generous company to take Abby and her friends on.

As Bryce Courtenay wrote so eloquently- “the power of one can light the night- One simple dream, one gentle word, one act of love from someone can start a chain reaction”, and Seedlings Braille Books for Children’s creator, Debra Bonde, is the power that has started a chain reaction.

“All the little things we do everyday
The smallest step can bring on a change
Ohhhh that's the power of one

'Cause one grain of sand can turn the tide
One single spark can light the night
One simple dream
One gentle word
One act of love from someone
Can start a chain reaction
It all begins in the heart
And the power of one

The power of one x2

It's the power of one x3

the power of one

For more information on Seedlings Braille Books for Children, please go to their website at http://www.seedlings.org.

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