Christian Record Services (CRS) has received $597,000 from the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists to increase its braille production capacity. Funding will enable the ministry to expand production space at its headquarters, purchase additional braille embossing equipment, and hire an additional staff member to meet the increase in production. After a three-year period, CRS expects to cover ongoing costs within its operating budget, which is primarily supported by faithful donors of the ministry.
Randy Robinson, chief financial officer for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America and member of the CRS Board of Directors, said, “Christian Record Services applied for funding available to all divisions for ministry and was awarded the funding, which will be a blessing to the ministry and the people it serves.”
According to the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, globally, 1.1 billion people were living with vision loss in 2020: 43 million who were blind and 295 million had moderate-to-severe vision impairment. In 2015, a study estimated that 12.44 million people in the United States are blind or have a vision impairment—a number expected to double by 2050 (according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
It is not enough to assume people whose preferred reading format is braille have access to the gospel through other means. Worldwide, there is a significant gap in access to braille and the ability to produce resources in braille for the Adventist Church and Christianity in general. With limited capacity to produce braille in other regions of the Adventist Church, CRS is uniquely poised to help meet the growing needs of the global church.
“We are incredibly grateful to be the recipient of these funds and are excited about the opportunity to expand our production capacity,” said Diane Thurber, president of CRS. “Resources in braille are not only important to members of the Adventist Church who are blind but can also be an important tool for local churches to expand their ministry within their communities, large or small, to people who are blind or experiencing vision loss.”
Thurber added, “With this expansion, we will contribute to braille literacy and address the book famine that currently exists, with less than 10 percent of published works available in accessible formats in developed countries and less than 1 percent in undeveloped countries.”
The ministry’s current production capacity enables it to fulfill both member requests from within the United States and its territories and current contracted services with divisions worldwide, which includes the Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide and magazines produced by CRS. However, to meet the need of new braille requests, CRS will significantly increase its capacity for producing books and resources in braille and add production capacity for the existing library of braille books and resources. These could be offered to the worldwide church by special request through contracted service agreements. It is anticipated that the expansion will be completed by late summer 2023.
The mission of CRS is to empower people who are blind to engage their communities and embrace the blessed hope. Located in Lincoln, Nebraska, CRS serves nearly 18,000 members throughout the United States and in countries around the world, with approximately 10,000 members internationally. Membership and services are free to anyone who is legally blind. Outside the United States and its territories, CRS partners with division leadership, Adventist Possibility Ministries, and Canadian conferences through contracted service agreements.
For more information about the ministry or to donate to provide more braille resources in the United States and worldwide, visit www.christianrecord.org, call (402) 488-0981, or email [email protected].