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Special Idaho program creates Braille for others

Special Idaho program creates Braille for others

KUNA -- There's a vocational class in Kuna that's giving a group of men not only something to do to pass the time, but do something positive as well.

They're learning Braille and translating books for the blind here in Idaho and across the country.

Some of their work has made it into the Library of Congress.

This is the text for a sighted person to read, and this is a Braille for an unsighted person to read, said Bob Hall.

This is just one example of what Bob Hall and others in his vocational class do.

This is one chapter out of a textbook, said Hall.

Hall is one of the main reasons this class started. Thirty years ago, doctors diagnosed him with glaucoma. Then, about 10 years ago he thought he was going to completely lose his sight.

I couldn't fathom living in a world of darkness and this would help, and that's why I started to learn Braille, said Hall.

But he didn't stop there.

It's evolved into doing stuff for the Gooding School, and for other people just to help them learn how to read, said Hall.

Others like Thomas Miller jumped on board.

I got involved in Braille because I knew someone who was doing Braille and talked with him about it and I enjoyed what I had heard from him, said Miller.

But there's something we haven't told you about these men and where they do their work.

When you developed this program, where were you? asked NewsChannel 7.

I was here in prison, replied Hall.

Hall is 13 years into a 35-year sentence at the Idaho Correctional Center.

In 1999, Hall lit his girlfriend's house on fire.

Maybe we can do something productive while we're here, said Hall.

Miller is a convicted sex offender.

It makes me good to give back to the community and actually do something positive that actually helps somebody, said Miller.

He and others are helping people, not only here in Idaho, but across the country.

The Library of Congress has used some of their work.

They even translate sheet music - one piece in particular - Handel's Messiah.

If you live in an environment like this, there's good in everybody. Just sometimes you have to dig awful deep to find it, said Hall.

For about 12 hours a day, over 20 inmates, some of them incarcerated for life, proofread and create words on a page, all with a hope that their work makes a difference.

The time goes by fast. It doesn't make you feel any better about why your here, but it makes you feel better about yourself. And if you feel better about yourself when you do walk out of these gates, then you can maybe be successful and not come back, said Hall.

From the program's inception about a decade ago, they have created over a half million pages of Braille.

They've certified 40 inmates in literary Braille. Just about all of them learning this new language since the crime that sent them here.

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