There are very few programs of study you can complete for absolutely free these days. One very unknown and unlikely program is learning braille and becoming a transcriber through the Library of Congress. The Library of Congress offers this program completely FREE of charge.
This certificate program is a collaboration between the Library of Congress and the National Federation for the Blind Jernigan Institute. It is not meant for those wishing to learn to read braille for personal reasons, but rather those that want to build a career around helping translate for the blind in public and private occupations by turning everyday print materials into braille format.
Braille transcribers often work in school districts helping blind students by translating study materials, and help businesses translate materials such as menus, training guides, business cards, etc. Many braille transcribers also go on to learn more about math and music transcribing and begin specializing in these areas.
In order to be eligible for the program you must have a high school diploma and be a U.S. citizen or have established residency.
How the Course Works
The course is self directed or can be taken in local classes if available. Students download the workbooks and work through them submitting assignments as they go. The class takes 12-18 months to complete, including a final manuscript that must be submitted.
Students can use computer software that creates the braille or the more traditional braillewriter and slate. Most choose the computer program.
The course includes lessons covering the braille alphabet, braille contractions, and rules for writing braille. Lessons describe the elements of the braille system, give examples, and provide practice drills. At the end of each lesson is an exercise with sentences or short passages testing comprehension and reviewing concepts and rules from earlier lessons. These exercises will be evaluated by local class instructors, or, if studying by correspondence, by the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute.
How to Sign Up
You can apply for the course online or you can submit a print application:
Complete application online
Mail a complete print application (Word doc) to:
The National Federation of the Blind
Braille Certification Training Program
200 East Wells Street
at Jernigan Place
Baltimore, MD 21230
Learn more about the free braille transcription course online here!