Blind Faith – The Sunday Mail October 24 1999


Blind Faith Newspaper Article The Sunday Mail 24 October 1999


Blind Faith (The Sunday Mail, 24 October 1999, P6)

Volunteers are keeping the world of books alive for the blind, writes Frances Whiting.  Pictures: David Kelly

Mercy Dickenson guides her friend John’s fingers gently over the letters, each bump on the crisp, white page weaving its story and transporting the reader into another world.

For more than 100 years people such as Mercy have been sharing the gift of literature at Braille House, a volunteer-run Brisbane organisation dedicated to bringing books, thus much joy, to the blind. Secretary Narelle McFarlane says Mercy (who is blind) and the other 140 or so volunteers who quietly keep this service going understand the pleasure books can bring and the doors they can open.

“We have volunteers who do the actual transcribing of the books into braille at home for us,” Narelle said.

“When they are finished, they bring or send the sheets in and then we have volunteers here who come in to proof-read the sheets and shellac the braille for protection.”

The pages are painstakingly hand-sewn together and hand-bound, a slow process which has been passed on through the decades.

“Originally volunteers were shown how to do it by the old Government Printing Office, but today it’s just a skill and an art that has been passed on from volunteer to volunteer over the years.”

The education section, among other services, also transcribes everyday items into braille, things like bus timetables, bank statements or instructions for household appliances, helping bring independence into people’s lives and making complex tasks easier.

The braille library does not charge for its services and relies instead on grants, bequests and donations to keep it going.

It can be tough but everyone who works there is determined to continue the service, which has been going since 1897.

Thousands of books, fiction and non-fiction, have been sewn and bound in that time.

“There are, of course, talking books,” Narelle says, “and they are really great too.”

“But there’s nothing like getting a good book in your hands, is there?”

Braille House is at 507 Ipswich Rd, Annerley, phone 3848 5257


Free Puppet and Magic Show on Twin-Books

Queensland Times (Thursday, June 28, 2018) – Helen Spelitis

Queensland Times 28 June 2018














Free puppet and magic show on ‘twin books’

Books are for everyone even those who can’t see to read.

That’s the message from Braille House volunteer Kayt Duncan as she prepares for the first of three school holiday performances aimed at raising awareness about braille.

Braille is a writing system used by people with low or no vision where raised dots are used to represent the letters of the alphabet.

Ms Duncan said that while many people were aware of resources such as guide dogs, braille was not as well known.

The program presented through a comedy show using magic and a puppet targets young children.

Ms Duncan will be showcasing a range of books suitable for both people with full vision and those without.

“We want kids to understand from an early age that having low vision doesn’t mean books are out,” Ms Duncan said.

“It’s about shared reading.  The key thing we want to raise awareness about is twin vision books; a picture book that children with full vision can enjoy that also has braille.”

“Sharing a book is important.  If you share a book with someone, you share that love of reading.  Children can share these twin books.”

Braille House is a national organisation based in Ipswich (sic) and now has more than 370 picture books in its children’s library.

Part of Ms Duncan’s mission is to ensure families know these books exist and that they can access them for free.

“One of the benefits of the books is that a low vision or blind parent can still read with a sighted child,” Ms Duncan said.

“So it’s about closing the gap.”

“Our message is that books are for everyone.”

“The show is a funny puppet show that includes magic and its all about why braille would be useful.”

Ms Dunca will perform three times during the school holidays with two performances taking place in Ipswich.

The Ipswich Libraries’ shows are free-events for three to eight-year-olds and their mums, dads and carers.

Read more about braille resources and the performances showcasing “twin books” at the Braille House Facebook page or at .

See the Show

Wednesday, 4 July at Ipswich Central Library at 10am

Friday, July 6 at Orion Springfield Central (outside JB HiFi) at 10am

And The Winners Are – 2017 Dickinson Memorial Literary Competition

The 2017 Dickinson Memorial Literary Competition saw a record number of entries and entrants in the Adult categories since Braille House has been hosting the event.  The standard was high and thanks and appreciation go to Heather Jacobs for judging the entries again this year (Heather is a writer who volunteers her time and skill).

And the winners are:

Short Stories

First place goes to Back Home Where You Belong by Helen Boardman.

Second place goes to Disaster to Destiny by Don Dias-Jayasinha.

Highly Commended in no particular order.

Belonging – Becky’s Journey by June Ashmore.

Belonging by Karen Passmore.


First place goes to Incipient Separation by Rebecca Maxwell.

Second place goes to I Belong too!! By Dalmayne Thamm.

Third place goes to In The Beginning by Helen Boardman.

Highly Commended in no particular order.

A Little Nook in Nundah by Dalmayne Thamm.

I Long to Tell Him He Belongs by Helen Boardman.