By Phil Messerli, Administrative Assistant/ PIO
Ironwood State Prison (ISP) recently hosted a ceremony to celebrate five years of highly successful collaboration between the Ironwood Braille Program (IBP) and the Alternate Text Production Center (ATPC) of the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office.
The Braille program is just one example of ISP’s commitment to making large contributions to the betterment of society. The Ironwood 4-Sight (I4-Sight) program, an inmate activity group established in 2009, has donated tens of thousands of dollars to charity and other worthy groups.
The Braille program, established in 2008, trains inmates to become proficient Braille Transcribers.
The inmate participants are required to successfully complete a 20-lesson course developed by the National Braille Federation of the Blind (NFB).
The inmates must submit a 35-page manuscript with a score of 80 percent or higher to receive their Literary Certification from the United States Library of Congress. The current IBP participant’s average was 92 percent, well above the national average.
Once certified these Inmate Transcribers convert college textbooks into Braille volumes for California Community College students.
The IBP currently has 24 participants, 14 of which have received their national certifications. In addition to Braille transcribing, the ATPC also trains these participants to convert textbooks into Electronic-Text (E-Text) thus allowing blind, vision impaired and/or developmentally disabled students to download text to electronic devices which can then be used to “read aloud” to the student.
Warden David Long said, “The Braille Program is a very unique program within CDCR. It benefits visually impaired Community College students while teaching inmates a viable trade. This is one of the few programs that guarantee inmates employment upon their release.”
Another program at ISP that has benefited the community is the Ironwood 4-Sight (I4-Sight) program, an inmate activity group established in 2009.
Through fundraisers, the inmate participants of the I4-Sight program have raised and donated tens of thousands of dollars to the following organizations:
• Joe Wine Recreation Center
• Harmony Kitchen
• Sheltering Wings
• Palo Verde High School Band
• Blythe Hornets Pop-Warner Football
• Gifts for Kids (Blythe)
• Breakfast with Santa (Blythe/ISP providing free breakfast and gifts)
• Palo Verde High School Sober Grad Night
• Blythe Lion’s Club, Felix J. Appleby Elementary School
• Ruth Brown Elementary School
-Bags of Love (kids taken from quarantined homes are provided bags filled with teddy bears, health and hygiene products)
• Continuing the Dream (CDCR-for children of incarcerated parents)
• Locks of Love
• National Camps for Blind Children
• UC Berkley CONNECT (Neo-Natal care unit for infants born to women addicted to drugs)
• Canine Companions
• PALS (Blythe Police Activity League)
• Black History-Multicultural Museum
-TIPS (Taxpayers for Improving Public Safety).