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Employee Spotlight

NDVS/SB Braillist
Artist, New Homeowner, World Traveler

Her title is Braillist, but Leslie Pederson doesn’t just work with braille. She produces large print materials, including textbooks and workbooks that are needed by students for their classes. She also prints 3-D models of objects and tools that students and clients need to learn or perform a task. These plastic models allow people to tactually learn about things that they’d otherwise not be able to touch, such as the Empire State Building, parts of a cell, or a rocket ship. You could say she is a master of accessible materials, opening the world to those who are visually impaired by providing them with the materials they need to learn, do their job, or engage in hobbies or activities.

Leslie’s work is done behind the scenes, so it is often taken for granted. Superintendent Paul Olson, however, knows just how lucky NDVS/SB is to have her. “She is one of our greatest assets at NDVS/SB,” he says. “It takes a very dedicated and detail-oriented individual to become an expert braille transcriber. Not only does one need to be a master of the code itself, it requires a deep understanding of how people who are blind can best use braille materials. Leslie has been all of these things and more. She takes great pride in the materials she produces for individuals and organizations and is just such a pleasant person all around.” Find out more about Leslie by reading on.

What is your educational background?
Bachelor's degree in English from UND and Library of Congress braille transcription certification.

How did you end up at NDVS/SB?
I began working at NDVS/SB in the VRC library in August of 2011. I had worked mostly in libraries until that point and was helping to catalog a backlog of books. I found braille to be interesting so when the Braillist position opened I applied and earned my braille certification.

What is the Braille Access Center?
The Braille Access Center provides braille and large print for our students, teachers, and outside clients.

How do you convert a document to braille?
Once the text of a document is in Braille2000, the braille program I use, I then proofread it for mistakes and apply Braille Formats. Formats dictates things like spacing of paragraphs and headings, print and braille page numbers, and the laying out of visual elements such as tables so they are comprehensible to a braille reader.

What keeps you excited about your job?
I enjoy the variety of things I get to transcribe. It’s never the same, and sometimes it’s something I enjoy reading like history textbooks.

What has been the most interesting thing you’ve been asked to braille?
A few years ago I brailled something for the FBI. Unfortunately, I can’t say more. It’s classified.

Is there anything you think people would be surprised to know or learn about NDVS/SB?
I was surprised to hear there was once an indoor pool where the Commons is now. I believe it was taken out after the ’97 flood.

Tell us about your life outside of work. 
I love creating art, gardening, hiking, and traveling abroad. My partner and I also recently bought our first house so we’ve been having a great time making it ours with curiosities and antiques.

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