More than 30 community members, wardens and CDCR staff gathered at Vacaville’s California Medical Facility (CMF) on Tuesday April 12, to celebrate the anniversary of one of the prison’s longest-standing projects.

This year, the Volunteers of Vacaville Blind Project celebrated more than 50 years of partnership with CMF in the first program of its kind in California and one of the first in the nation.

This program employs inmates to build, clean and maintain Braillers; label recycled eyeglasses for distribution; transcribe Braille; record audio books; and service and repair Perkins Braille Writers. Inmates read books aloud including children’s books, novels, and textbooks, which are then recorded to create audio books. These books are also transcribed into Braille for free or at a reduced cost.

CMF now has a full-fledged Braille production center. The Lions of Sight, which provides eyeglasses to individuals throughout the world at no cost, also employs inmates to provide eyeglass refurbishing services.

The project services more than 150 school districts, universities, non-profit groups, Braille corporations and private customers. In the last 18 months, Blind Project employees at CMF built 19 Braillers for schools free of charge.