Blind Fandom

With the emergence of handicapped people "from the closet", a number have turned up in fandom. There had been occasional blind people in or near the SF community earlier. (For instance, the editor of Miracle Stories magazine was blind; the Rodriguez brothers took part in New York fandom in the early 60's.) In the mid-70's an organization of blind SF readers sprang up in New Haven, CT which presented an award to Isaac Asimov at Discon II. Various members of the group attended several conventions in the period, up to about 1977.

John Boardman began taping SF for two blind fans: one new to fandom, the other a long-time fan who had recently lost his sight. Out of this grew a cooperative among blind fans, Science Fiction For the Blind (SFFB), for exchanging and sharing specially recorded materials. A short time later, two blind midwestern fans, Mary Lou Lacefield and Bill Hedl, started an organization of blind fans and a taped fanzine, both called SI FI CEE. In 1980 two blind members of the Mythopoeic Society started another taped fanzine, REVEL.

The primary source of recorded books for the blind and other print-handicapped (dyslexic, developmentally disabled, or physically unable to hold a book) is the National Library Service of the Library of Congress. For many years, NLS did Galaxy both in Braille and on talking book records. When Galaxy folded, NLS did Asimov's in Braille and Analog on record. There are several dozen other organizations that produce recorded books and magazines for the blind, most of which have done at least a little SF or fantasy. The largest quantity is available from the Northwest Foundation, in Seattle; Volunteers of Vacaville, in Vacaville (CA); and Recording for the Blind, in Princeton (NJ). Also, a private agency, Records Periodicals in Philadelphia, records Omni.

Many fan groups have also been involved in various projects to record SF for the blind. The earliest project known was reported in SCIENCE FICTION TIMES in the late 50's and involved some New York City fans. Various SF clubs have sponsored or participated in such projects, including NESFA, MINN-STF, and a student group at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.