Oversize braille program for “A Small World” from the Arena Stage records, Collection #C0017, Special Collections and Archives, George Mason University.
Currently I’m working with Kerry Mitchell, one of our student assistant archivists, on reprocessing the Arena Stage records. The collection consists of approximately 675 boxes of scripts, correspondence, photographs, and audiovisual materials, so even with two people working on it, it has been a time consuming and complex project.
While going through the “Arena Stage Printed Materials”
series, I noticed a number of programs created for individuals with disabilities. There are braille programs, large-print programs, and sign-interpreted programs. The braille programs are completely unique due to their tactile nature. I haven’t had much experience with braille materials so this was an interesting item to me. The raised dots on the programs are only on one side of the pages, and the pages are up to 14 x 12 inches. The longer programs are quite thick and only three or four will fit in a five inch document box. This is in stark contrast to printed programs which can fit up to 50 or more programs per box. Larger programs are stored in flat boxes such as the example shown here. The images on this page are of a program for “A Small World” from the 1993-1994 season.
Detail of braille program for “A Small World” from the Arena Stage records, Collection #C0017, Special Collections and Archives, George Mason University.
Some of the concerns with preserving braille materials is the acidity of the paper used, fragile or damaged bindings, and flattening of the raised dots. A nice introduction to saving braille documents is Helen Kuncicky’s paper “Saving Raised Dots: A Feel for Braille Materials and Preservation” from 2007.
Braille was invented by Louis Braille in 1824. Braille “letters” consist of six dots that are arranged three high and two across. Dots within this pattern range in size indicating which letter the reader is feeling.
Braille letters from Braille Cards (http://www.braillecards.co.uk)
For more on disability services at Arena Stage and George Mason University, follow the links below.
At Arena Stage braille programs are available for patrons to use during performances.
Disability services at Mason.