BSA Workshop: “Touch to See: A Nineteenth-Century Book for Blind Readers”

The Bibliographical Society of America invites registration for “Touch to See: A Nineteenth-Century Book for Blind Readers,” a workshop at Swem Library, the College of William and Mary, 3 June 2022, 10 a.m.–2 p.m. ET.

Led by Dr. Amanda Stuckey, Assistant Professor of English at Central Penn College in Harrisburg, PA, this workshop is free and open to the public, and participants may attend in person (lunch will be provided) or via Zoom. Click here to register. Registration is requested by 10 May.

We often think of sight-impairment as a barrier to literacy, but as early as the 1800s, U.S. educators experimented with raised-print (or embossed) text books that blind and low-vision students could read by touch. Today, these tactile books stand as reminders that text is a material and multi-sensory experience. In the workshop “Touch to See: A Nineteenth-Century Book for Blind Readers,” we will consider the production, use, and physical state of one of these books, an 1836 New Testament embossed at what is now the Perkins School for the Blind and held at the College of William & Mary’s Swem Library Special Collections Resource Center. This workshop centers the experience of encountering this unusual tactile book (whether by sight, touch, or both) in order to discuss what it means to read by touch. Examining the range of textual and material decisions surrounding this New Testament, we will consider tactile books as, on the one hand, representative of the uneven (and often ableist) power structures that put them into print. On the other hand, tactile books also represent early efforts toward Universal Design, and workshop participants will consider nineteenth-century understandings of access and inclusive learning. Overall, this workshop aims to broaden our expectations for books and how we read them.

Please visit the registration page for more information, and direct any questions to Erin McGuirl, Executive Director of the Bibliographical Society of America, at