The American Brotherhood for the Blind was established in 1919 by a member of the Theosophical Society to give help to the blind. The new organization took its name from the Society's belief in the universal brotherhood of all mankind. The American Brotherhood held fast to this belief: its services were to be provided to all without regard to race, sex, creed, or national origin.
However, because of newly arising connotations associated with the term "brotherhood," in 1990, the board of directors decided to initiate action to adopt a new name—The American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults—as its federally registered operating name, or trademark, while still retaining the trademark of American Brotherhood for the Blind.
Now, as the American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults, we operate under a name which reflects modern language and cultural notions while at the same time preserving the traditional service values envisioned by the organization's founders.
In July of 2019, the Action Fund celebrated its 100th anniversary at the annual convention of the National Federation of the Blind in Las Vegas, Nevada. This was the largest gathering in the world of blind people. In order to honor this historic occasion, the Action Fund held a carnival celebration where there were Braille games, music, popcorn, prizes, face painting, and free copies of an innovative Twin Vision® book Pedro and the Octopus. The Action Fund has had a collaborative relationship with the National Federation of the Blind since 1940, thus the location for the celebration was a fitting tribute to our partnership with the organized blind movement.
Listen to remarks from Barbara Loos, president of the Action Fund, and Dr. Marc Maurer, executive director emeritas.
The American Brotherhood for the Blind is founded.
The American Brotherhood for the Blind funds the print/Braille storybook project led by Jean Dyon Norris.
The Twin Vision® title for print/Braille books is adopted.
The American Brotherhood for the Blind begins producing Braille calendars. A lending library for children and young adult books officially opens with forty-five titles and fifteen volunteer Braille transcribers. This library, later named the Kenneth Jernigan Library for Blind Children and Adults, was dedicated to the reading pleasure and education of blind children and young adults. The books in the library were Brailled by volunteers, who contributed countless hours of time and effort to bring the total collection of the library to more than 14,000 Braille books. Books were selected and then distributed to patrons solely by mail. Library books were distributed to subscribers free of charge. After more than fifty years of service, the Kenneth Jernigan Library closed its doors in Tarzana, California March 1, 2018, and the remaining collection was sent to the Action Fund's office in Baltimore, Maryland, from which the books are being given to blind people to keep. The books are available through Share Braille as long as they last.
The weekly "Hot-Line for Deaf-Blind" is produced.
The Action Fund helps to launch Future Reflections, a magazine published quarterly for parents and educators of blind children.
The International Braille and Technology Center for the Blind (IBTC) is established.
The Free Braille Books for Blind Children program is established.
The Action Fund begins partnering with the National Organization of Parents of Blind Children to establish an annual Braille Book Fair where blind children and adults can get donated Braille books.
The Action Fund establishes the annual Kenneth Jernigan Scholarship in honor of a previous executive director and major influence on the lives of blind people in the twentieth century.
Efforts are undertaken to connect volunteer lawyers with blind people needing assistance.
A program to explore and promote tactile art is established.
The Action Fund begins administering Share Braille, a free crowd-sourced community for recycling hard copy Braille books. The Action Fund also closes its Kenneth Jernigan Library in this year and begins giving books in the library collection away through Share Braille.
The Action Fund celebrates its 100th year of service. The Action Fund also receives the Library of Congress's Literacy Award: American Prize for its service to promote Braille literacy.