“I’ve ordered a yearbook every year, basically just to be included in the whole end-of-year yearbook signature stuff,” the California teen told The Press Democrat.
So when Windsor High School’s yearbook club surprised her with a Braille yearbook, Vorreiter was thrilled that she could read her senior yearbook all on her own.
“When I got it, I was just so amazed and excited,” Vorreiter said. “I couldn’t wait to see how it was all done. I didn’t know what it would be like.”
What it’s like is four volumes, each one three inches thick and printed on 8.5-by-11-inch paper. It’s also very expensive. The yearbook cost $4,000, an expense split between the school and yearbook publisher Walsworth.
Spearheaded by yearbook editor-in-chief Charlie Sparacio, the project was something the school and the publisher had never attempted before. The idea came after the yearbook club won $500 at a summer yearbook camp: The club was looking for a creative way to spend the money, and the idea of a Braille yearbook for Vorreiter was born.
When Sparacio contacted Walsworth, the company had never heard of a yearbook being printed in Braille. That’s largely because of the cost, Sharon Sacks, superintendent at the California School for the Blind, told The Press Democrat.
“I’ve never heard of a school doing that,” Sacks told the paper. “Even we do a print one. In the past, we’ve done an audiotape of what’s in the yearbook, but we’ve never done a Braille version.”
Embossing the TSbVI Braille yearbook with the Index Basic D's. pic.twitter.com/TjRuZVvC8M— Susan Mattson (@suemmattson) May 28, 2015
A Google search revealed that at least one school, the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, has printed Braille yearbooks. But that is a rare instance, and even advocates for the blind had never heard of the idea before.
“That’s a pretty cool, inclusive gesture,” George Abbott, a representative for the American Foundation for the Blind, told The Press Democrat. “It’s unique. It’s ambitious.”
For her part, Vorreiter may be the first high school student to receive a Braille yearbook, but she hopes she won’t be the last. “It was one of those really awesome moments that I would want to relive again,” she told the paper. “My hope is that in the future, if there are other visually impaired students that go through high school, they get a yearbook for their senior year, too.”