Beyond the Walls - Professional Braille Transcriber Ricky Alexander

hands reading braille

Before prison my life was heading in many directions. I dropped out of high school in the 11th grade, but returned and graduated a year later in 2002 from Jordan High School in Columbus, Ga. After my incarceration, I was fortunate to be placed on an Integrity dorm at Scott State Prison in 2005. This dorm was based on education. I took Brick, Block, and Stone Masonry, Sign Language, and Spanish. Then, of course, there was Braille. Here I met guys like Guy Toles, Joseph Davis, Jason Wilson, and many others who mentored me and encouraged me as I took on a whole new language. Braille was a program that I, in a way, stumbled upon. 

I entered the Georgia Braille Transcriber (GBT) program in 2008. At first, the long hours of work, sitting and staring at the computer, while taking in extreme amounts of information, was not exciting enough for me. All of a sudden, one day Braille and all that it is took a hold of me and I began to enjoy the new language and art of Braille. I left GBT in November 2013, but continued Braille work at the Macon Transitional Center.

Now, I am doing contract Braille work for agencies such as AMAC Accessibility Solutions a division of Georgia Tech and Georgia Instructional Materials Center (GIMC) from home. Starting January 5, 2015, I begin working at AMAC in the Braille department. My Braille training and hard days of study at GBT directly influenced and affected my present situation.

I’ve had various opportunities that I would not have had, if it were not for the Braille program at Central State Prison. Time management skills, organizational skills, teamwork, debating skills, and respect for the opinion of others are all things that I learned, cultivated, and mastered solely because of GBT.

My advice for all incarcerated individuals that are enrolled in the program or thinking of joining the Braille program -  “You shouldn’t think twice about if Braille or any other Vocation is for you. Regardless if you continue Braille, Masonry, Electrical, Automotive, or Graphic Arts work upon your release or not. The skills that you’ll learn in these trades will be priceless as you continue on in life.”