Braille Institute.

Each year Braille Institute serves more than 75,000 people by providing an environment of hope and encouragement through integrated educational, social and recreational programs. Founded in 1919 by the efforts of one man, J. Robert Atkinson, in the decades since then Braille Institute has grown enormously but always with the mission to eliminate barriers to a fulfilling life caused by blindness and severe sight loss. The story of Celia Montes is one inspiring example.

Celia Montes has always loved books, but in 2007, she found herself less able to pursue that passion. A medication her doctor prescribed caused unexpected retinal toxicity. “My vision progressively started to go,” Celia recalls. By 2009, at 31, she was legally blind. “I kept trying to cope and hide it, but I was depressed. I could not even read, one of my favorite pastimes.”

In 2014, Celia’s fraternal twin sister, Linda, shared hopeful news. “She told me, I saw a Braille Institute bus on the freeway and it makes me think they could help you,’” Celia recounts. With Linda’s encouragement, Celia phoned Braille Institute’s San Diego Center. After a tour of the center, Celia started classes. She now reads braille and has taken many other free classes including independent living, cooking, sensory awareness, orientation and mobility training.

“The very first day I started using their free library checking out audiobooks I could listen to on a digital player. Reading for me is a way of keeping my mind working, a way to enjoy life,” Celia tells Giving Back Magazine.
Today, Celia Montes considers herself an integral, happy member of the Braille Institute Community.

For more information about Braille Institute, call 1-858-452-1111 or visit