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.

Dickinson Memorial Literary Competition 2017

Entries are now open for the 2017 Dickinson Memorial Literary Competition.

Pen a short story or poem and be in the running to win cash prizes in this year’s competition.

The theme is “Belonging” and entries close 25 August 2017.2017 Dickinson Memorial Literary Competition

Queensland Braille Writing Association (Braille House) is proud to conduct the 2017 Dickinson Memorial Literary Competition which is open to participants who are legally blind and Australian residents.

There are categories for all ages and the Entry Guidelines and Entry Form can be found at the following links:

Dickinson Memorial Literary Comp 2017 Flyer and Guidelines

Dickinson Memorial Comp Entry Form 2017

We welcome participants in the Dickinson Memorial Literary Competition and wish you all good luck and a happy writing experience.

If you are interested in the history of the competition, click on this link: Dickinson Memorial Literary Competition History.

Anna and Jean

Nauruan Students at Braille HouseRecently, Braille House farewelled Anna and Jean after 3 months here to learn Braille.

Anna and Jean are Nauruan.

Anna, who is early 20s, is progressively loosing her sight.  Supported by the Brisbane Catholic Education Office and facilitated by the Department of Education, Nauru, in partnership with Braille House, Anna, along with her chaperone Jean travelled to Brisbane to learn Braille.  For any young person, travelling from home for 3 months is no small order.

Although very home sick by the end, Anna delightfully gained confidence and capability throughout her stay.  Anna successfully completed the Braille House “Grade 1” Course covering knowledge and use of:

  • Braille alphabet
  • common punctuation
  • simple numbers

Our course involved both reading and writing Braille and was presented on site, at Braille House, on a one-on-one basis. Anna was required to do a considerable amount of revision and practice between lessons, which she took on with passion.

Supporting Anna in her journey was Jean who successfully completed the Braille House “Braille for Print Users” Course which covers fully contracted Braille.

Jean was involved in discussions about:

  • the nature of touch reading
  • the teaching of touch reading
  • tactile sensitivity testing

In undertaking this course, Jean is now equipped to support Anna back at Nauru to continue to develop her Braille skills, including using contracted Braille.  Anna particularly wishes to continue to develop her Braille to enable her to read music

Technology will enable Braille House to continue to provide support to both Anna and Jean via Skype, email and telephone

It was a joy and a pleasure to have both Anna and Jean in the House these past 3 months.  Many new relationships have been developed and the experience will be treasured by all.  We wish Anna and Jean all the best for the future and thank the Department of Education, Nauru for their generosity and commitment to helping Anna.  Thanks also goes to the Brisbane Catholic Education Office for partnering with Braille House and the Department of Education, Nauru to tern this education opportunity into a reality

It is hoped that others will benefit from this opportunity in the future.

Like to know more about learning Braille or other things we do at Braille House, call us today on (07) 3848 5257.

Eyes to See

Braille Embossing MachinesAt a small meeting in the Telegraph Chambers in March 1897, a group of women formed the Queensland Braille Writing Association. Seven members, including Mrs Sharp, Head Teacher of the School for the Blind and Lady Lamington, wife of the then Queensland Governor, undertook the task of brailing twelve texts each. They began the work of building a library, as well as teaching people who were blind or had low vision and people with vision to read and write Braille.

On 22 March 1899, a free lending library consisting of 54 books was officially opened. The number of texts grew considerably over the years with some members of the Association brailing over 1000 volumes each, often by hand.

The Association provided much more than just books. Members like Madeline Bird personally convinced many employers to accept trainees who were blind and contributed to Dedication to the Blind, a radio program that aired for 25 years.

Following World War II, volunteer members tutored newly-blind ex-servicemen in braille, continued to transcribe university texts for students who were blind and produced a monthly braille magazine.

Even with the advent of assistive technologies, today the Queensland Braille Writing Association, or Braille House as it is more commonly known, still teaches braille and moon and creates Braille.

Our free lending library houses and provides a large selection of brailled books for borrowing including books for children and young adults. Braille House has continued to develop and circulate a quarterly magazine which also reaches some of our overseas clients.

Our transcribers and embossers continue to create brailled text books for students of all ages and exam papers. We also create braille for other clients for, for example, business cards and brochures, as well as labels to identify items around the workplace and the home.

People who are blind or have low vision, as well as print users, continue to be taught how to read and write braille by the Braille House tutors.

There are many ways for people to get involved with Braille House. If you would like to know more, visit our website at follow us on Facebook at or phone us on (07) 3848 5257.

Profiles of Champions

Volunteer at Braille HouseHow do you describe champions in our society?

  • By their academic achievements?
  • By the amount of money they have made?
  • By their ability to entertain others?

At Braille House we have two champions, Marion Wood and Shirley Sara, who were honored with life membership at the Queensland Braille Writing Association’s (QBWA) recent Annual General Meeting.

QBWA Council member Wendy Alexander described our champions perfectly in her following speech:

Good morning everyone.

Braille House has a certain camaraderie; a quietly appreciative way of acknowledging efforts, a please keep coming we enjoy your company, an awareness of “it’s good to provide for others” feel to it.

It’s because of the people who work in it!!

Incidentally, did you know that I get the best jobs at Braille House? Today is one of them.  Today I have been asked to let you in on the celebration of two of our great workers  …  to help us celebrate two life members.

How may of you know the author Beatrix Potter?

How many of you know her character Mrs Tiggy Winkle?

Mrs Tiggy Winkle goes about quietly helping everyone. She is always clean, kind, tidy and caring.  She does the laundry for her fellow woodland friends.  If there’s a problem she quietly fixes it.  She does not seek the limelight; she’s just pleased to do a good job.  She makes the world an easier place to function through her work.

Did you know we have our very own Mrs Tiggy Winkle? She quietly comes in, does her work, makes sure she has plenty of work to do at home, signs off and scuttles out the door.

Our Marion has brailled countless books, all at home, and when here, helped by her mate Margaret, organizes the distribution of brailled manuscripts to proof readers. She has provided many books, for all to read, as well as making sure they are good quality and worth reading.  A really valuable quiet worker for nearly 40 years.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Marion Wood.

When I talked to our Braille House folks about their idea of our second candidate, what I got in return was a serene, happy facial expression and comments about how she emanated friendship happiness, knowledge and degrees of positiveness. It seems she quietly went around topping up everyone’s tank of self esteem, confidence and skills.  I know she worked hard too. 

When the library administration combined, I got to hear how graciously she taught someone a new skill, how she included everyone as valuable, useful people and how she always was there working beside or with you – some lady huh?

What I had seen was that if there was work to be done she would be there, organizing books, helping others, chasing queries, helping in the kitchen. This good fairy is our little ray of sunshine, a beautiful positive person through thick and thin.

I am sure her daughter Wendy knows how much we have appreciated her efforts. I reckon Wendy rehearses her spiel about “How’s your Mum” on the way to Braille House everytime.  She’s always being asked.

Ladies and gentlemen I give you our very own good fairy, confidence giver, helper, worker and all round ray of sunshine – Shirley Sara.

Braille House can always benefit the assistance of volunteers. If you are inspired by Wendy’s speech and would like to consider volunteering at Braille House please contact us on 3848 5257.  We have many rolls available including administration, marketing and event/fundraising management.  If you can’t commit as a volunteer but would like to help out some other way, again, please contact us 3848 5257 as we have a number of ways people can get involved in assisting people with low or no vision – just like our Mrs Tiggy Winkle, Marion Wood and our Ray of Sunshine, Shirley Sara.


Braille House (Queensland Braille Writing Association) is a non-profit organization providing Braille and Moon tuition and reading materials to empower people who are blind or who have low vision to live with dignity and independence. Although located in Brisbane, South East Queensland, Braille House provides to people throughout Queensland and Australia wide.

Features of Braille House include:

  • Library: a free lending library of braille and moon books and braille magazines.
  • Transcribing: producing books and other resources in braille for children and adults, students of all ages, organisations and government departments.
  • Tutoring: tutoring of adults who wish to become touch readers of braille or moon script.

Find Braille House at 507 Ipswich Rd, Annerley QLD 4103 or online at . Contact us on (07) 3848 5257.