NBA History

In 1945, there were few standards for the preparation of braille, and few sources for help in this field. Transcribers had to solve transcription problems as best they could. The National Braille Club, later renamed the National Braille Association, has developed rich resources to help apply existing standards to particular transcription problems.

  • 1945

    The National Braille Club

    National Braille Club (NBC) is founded in New York City.

  • 1946

    The Bulletin Begins

    NBC begins publication of the Bulletin to serve as a communicating link for members.

  • 1948

    The Bulletin Prevents Re-Transcription

    The Bulletin begins listing books transcribed by members in an effort to prevent re-transcription.

  • 1957

    NBC's First Conference

    NBC holds its first conference, providing volunteers an opportunity to meet face to face to discuss transcribing problems and to attend workshops explaining the new braille codes. For a time, conferences were held annually. Eventually, the meeting program evolved to regional meetings each year specifically tailored to meet needs within a region, and a biennial national conference in the spring of odd-numbered years.

  • 1959

    The First 1000 Members

    NBC membership approaches 1,000.

  • 1960

    NBC Publishes It's First Aid For Transcribers

    NBC publishes its first aids for transcribers, An Alphabetical Index of Nemeth Code Symbols and Reference List of Signs for Arithmetic.

  • NBC Publishes Additional Manuals

    NBC publishes the Foreign Languages Manual and the Training Manual for Arithmetic.

  • 1963

    NBC's First Direct Service To The Blind

    The NBC Mathematics Committee establishes its Master File and Duplicating Service. The Master File lists transcriptions available anywhere in the U.S. and the Duplicating Service provides thermoform copies of masters which have been deposited with NBC. The Duplicating Service, NBC’s first direct service to the blind, will eventually become the Braille Book Bank. The NBC Mathematics Committee establishes a system of area representatives to provide guidance for math transcribers nearer to home. Tape Recording is added to the list of NBC standing committees.

  • 1964

    The National Braille Association

    The National Braille Club becomes the National Braille Association (NBA).

  • 1965

    NBA Adds Large Type

    NBA adds Large Type to its standing committees and begins to conduct workshops for local groups on a limited basis. Membership passes the 2,000 mark.

  • 1966

    The NBA Braille Book Bank Is Established

    The NBA Braille Book Bank is established (in New Jersey) to provide thermoform copies of college level texts. NBA publishes the Plan for Foreign Language Workshops to be Conducted by Local Groups.

  • Reference List of Mathematical Signs Nemeth Code Symbols

    NBA publishes Reference List of Mathematical Signs Nemeth Code Symbols.

  • 1969

    One Million Pages of Duplicated Braille

    The Braille Book Bank produces its one millionth page of duplicated braille.

  • 1970

    The Revised Manual on Foreign Languages

    NBA publishes the revised Manual on Foreign Languages.

  • 1971

    The Tape Recording Manual

    NBA publishes the Tape Recording Manual. This is the first NBA manual to have its entire printing purchased by the Library of Congress for free distribution to volunteers.

  • The NBA Braille Technical Tables Bank

    The NBA Braille Technical Tables Bank is established to provide thermoform copies of the tables in its collection and to provide assistance to transcribers in setting up tables for transcription. NBA Music Braille area representatives are appointed.

  • 1973

    The Braille Book Bank Opens In Vermont

    A production unit of the Braille Book Bank is opened in Vermont. NBA publications include a revision of the Manual for Large Type Transcribing, the Tape Recording Lessons, General Reference List of Signs and Symbols of the 1972 Revision of the Nemeth Code and the Presentation and Outcomes of the Computer Notation and Nemeth Code workshops held at the San Francisco Conference. These detailed reports, including simulated braille of answers to questions presented at the workshops, were felt to be too lengthy for inclusion in the Conference Proceedings. The Mathematics Committee would continue to publish “P’s & O’s” and the Textbook Format Committee would subsequently follow suit. The Membership Committee establishes a system of regional membership chairs to provide close contact for NBA members and to place them in touch with one another. NBA becomes a sponsor of the Braille Authority of North America (BANA).

  • 1974

    The Braille Book Bank Adds Braille Music

    The Braille Book Bank adds braille music to its collection and publishes a music catalog.

  • 1975

    Guidelines for the Administration of Groups Producing Reading Materials for the Visually Handicapped

    NBA publishes Guidelines for the Administration of Groups Producing Reading Materials for the Visually Handicapped. The Robert S. Bray Community Workshop Fund is established to provide single-subject workshops to groups in their home cities.

  • 1976

    Handbook for Braille Music Transcribers

    Handbook for Braille Music Transcribers is published. NBA establishes the Reader-Transcriber Registry to provide a clearing house for braillists looking for transcription assignments and adult readers desiring non-textbook materials.

  • 1977

    The Braille Book Bank Moves To Rochester, NY

    The Braille Book Bank collections in Vermont and New Jersey are combined and moved to Rochester, New York. The Library of Congress introduces its lessons for mathematics transcribers at NBA’s conference prior to publication.

  • 1978

    The First General Interest Catalog

    The Braille Book Bank publishes its first General Interest Catalog which lists materials transcribed through the Reader-Transcriber Registry. NBA begins a field test of the Braille Textbook Assignment Service whose function is to put students in need of transcriptions of college texts in contact with transcribers able to fill their needs.

  • 1979

    Four Million Braille Pages

    The Braille Book Bank thermoforms its four millionth braille page. Tape Recording Manual, Third Edition, and Braille Technical Tables Bank Catalog are published.

  • 1980

    NBA's First International Meeting

    Toronto, Ontario, hosts the first NBA regional meeting outside the United States. NBA is co-sponsor of Helen Keller Centennial Congress in Boston, attended by 74 organizations from 17 countries. Following the establishment of the Library of Congress certification in math transcription, the first certificate is awared to NBA’s math chair. The Library of Congress places 100 music masters in the Braille Book Bank collection on permanent loan.

  • 1981

    Tape Recording Manual Is Reprinted

    NBA elects its first Canadian board member. The popular Tape Recording Manual is reprinted.

  • 1982

    Formation Of The NBA Braille Materials Production Committee

    NBA Braille Materials Production Committee is formed and a committee is appointed for the study of automation of the National Office. NBA is represented at the International Conference for the study of Grade 2 English braille in Washington, DC.

  • 1983

    The NBA National Office Moves To Rochester, NY

    Funds are contributed to permit automation of the National Office and the Braille Book Bank acquires its first computer and embosser. To centralize activities, the NBA National Office is moved to Rochester, New York. Braille Authority of North America approves Guidelines for Mathematical Diagrams and requests NBA to handle production and distribution.

  • 1984

    Five Million Pages of Braille

    NBA initiates a disk output service for embossing computer produced material. The Braille Book Bank duplicates its five millionth page of braille. Tape Recording Lessons, Second Edition is published.

  • 1989

    NBA Appoints an Executive Director

    The Board of Directors appoints a salaried Executive Director. All direct service programs for members, transcribers, and braille readers now reside under one roof.

  • 1990

    The Five-Year Plan

    The Board of Directors develops and monitors a five-year plan to serve as a guide for shaping NBA’s future. Continuing education for the transcriber remains a major and unique element of NBA’s programs. The evolution of technology includes the development of software programs for the electronic translation of print into braille thought to increase production and improve quality.

  • 1995

    50 Years of Service

    NBA takes a leadership role in offering workshops and writing Bulletin articles to acquaint members with the rule changes published in Braille Formats: Principles of Print to Braille Transcription. NBA celebrates its 50th anniversary.

  • 1999-2005

    The NBA Braille Formats Course

    Recognizing a need and heeding the pleas of transcribers, the NBA Board develops the NBA Braille Formats Course. As a corollary, NBA produces the NBA Certification in Braille Textbook Transcribing. NBA partners with other organizations to offer training with publishers’ electronic files and to address the shortage of braille transcribers. NBA celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2005.

  • 2006

    David Shaffer Becomes Executive Director

    NBA’s first Executive Director, Angela Coffaro, retires after 23 years of service. David W. Shaffer is hired as her replacement.

  • 2008

    The Ask An Expert Forum

    NBA develops the online service, Ask An Expert, so that individual transcribers have a place to seek guidance while working on assignments.  The format of the fall professional development conferences change to a three-day intensive training in a specific subject area of braille transcription.

  • 2010

    The Training Bureau

    NBA develops the Training Bureau, which made our training workshops available to groups on demand at their location.

  • 2012

    The Braille Formats Study Guide

    NBA produces the Braille Formats Study Guide designed to assist transcribers in learning the new Braille Formats Principles of Print to Braille Transcription, 2011.

  • 2015

    70 Years of Service

    NBA celebrates its 70th anniversary.

  • 2017


    NBA begins providing online learning to reach those not able to travel for conferences. Short-length free webinars are offered, as well as longer, paid webinars that delve deeper into topics.

  • 2018


    In March, NBA releases the 2018 Braille Formats Study Guide, and the Braille Enthusiast’s Dictionary in braille.