On Dec. 10, Gene Shelhamer, Director of the Lions of Pennsylvania Foundation, gave a matching fund donation to the Meadville Lions Foundation for their continued support of the Braillemates Transcription Program at SCI Cambridge Springs.
Since shortly after the institution opened in 1993, the Meadville Lions Club has been working with the women's prison in Cambridge Springs to transcribe reading material into braille for use by blind and visually-impaired citizens across the commonwealth.
Inmates enrolled in this program work through a 3-year transcription course offered by the National Federation of the Blind, and those who successfully complete the course are certified by The Library of Congress. Working with local school districts and Intermediate Units, the primary goal of the program is to provide braille textbooks and other reading material for visually impaired elementary and high school students. However, in addition to local schools, the Braillemates have transcribed public notices, bus schedules, newsletters, and even braille menus for local non-profit organizations and businesses. The motto of the program is "Bringing Vision to Fingertips and Light to Lives".
The funds from the Pennsylvania Lions Foundation will be matched by the Meadville Lions Club and used to provide updated transcribing software and related equipment that will expand the program and enable Braillemates to provide services to visually impaired people for years to come.