Our annual St. Lucy Mass in honor of the patron saint of the blind will be celebrated on December 14th at 7:00 p.m. ET by our braille client Father Jamie Dennis. More information can be found here.

About Our Mission

Picture of a room with four people working in it circa 1915
Father Stadelman in the early days of XSB (at left) while staff are transcribing nearby
Print shop shown with big machines and people working with transcribers
Our print shop, pictured in 1915, shows staff hard at work to get the Word of God in an accessible format for the blind and visually impaired community of faithful
A group of lay women working in the library
XSB was founded by a blind teacher of blind children, Margaret Coffey with the help of Father Joseph Stadleman, SJ. Here, a group of lay women are pictured in the early years of the organization
A woman standing near a big audio recording machine
Xavier has a long history of adapting technology to move with the times. Along with braille, we have provided many types of audio services over the years from vinyl records, audio cassettes to Mp3 disc, and most recently digital Talking Book format to adapt our books to the machines provided by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped
A person walking down the street in front of our old building
Our former building on 23rd street pictured in 1953
A person on the phone while typing with one hand and reading braille with another
A staff member multi tasks in 1965 - reading and embossing braille, while talking on the phone

Mission History

The Xavier “Free Publication” Society was founded in 1900.  Our mission was envisioned by a blind teacher of blind children, Margaret Coffey, and Fr. Joseph Stadelman, SJ.  

Margaret had for years and years "prayed that God would inspire some one to take pity on the Catholic blind of the country for whom there was no Catholic book to be had."  In addition to providing inspiration for Xavier Society, Margaret provided $350 of her own resources, which was the amount of money necessary to purchase a recently developed stereograph machine which could produce a larger volume of books and magazines in “raised print”, e.g braille.  While not considered a significant sum today, in 1900, $350 was the equivalent of $11,000 in 2019 dollars – a very significant investment for a young blind woman.

The mission started off on 16th Street in Manhattan, in a single room at the College of St. Francis Xavier (now Xavier High School).  At the time, Xavier Society was the only Catholic publishing house to make such writings available to blind people, and all services were provided free of charge, a tradition that continues to this day.

Mission Statement

To provide the Word of God, and the best of Roman Catholic teaching and literature, spiritual and inspirational material, to blind or visually impaired persons of any faith in whatever format best meets their needs at no charge and to continually explore ways to make that material more accessible and available to the widest possible audience of those in need. To offer opportunities for volunteer service for those who wish to help in this work through their donation of time, talent or financial support.

Timeline

1900
Rev. Joseph Stadelman

Society established under the name Catholic Free Publication Society for the Blind by Rev. Joseph Stadelman, SJ (pictured right) and Margaret Coffey

First book published – Gospel of St. John

First issue of The Catholic Transcript printed in New York Point – first magazine for the blind in America

1912

First issue of The Catholic Review released in braille by Chicago Society, published by Xavier Society

1937
long playing discs player

First talking books recorded on long playing discs

1950s

Mid 1950s – entire New Testament published in braille and as a talking book

1965
Cecilia Warner, a former employee, overlooking the audio department

Open reel tapes introduced for talking book

1968

Cassette tapes introduced

1973
Braille Mass propers

Sunday Mass Propers made available in braille (pictured right), large print, and on cassette

1987

New Testament of New American Bible transcribed and published in braille

1991

All titles and formats of XSB library entered into the Union Catalogue of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (a division of the U.S. Library of Congress) and made available via interlibrary loan

1998

Catechetical textbooks in braille for children and young adults introduced

2009
Braille bible in 45 volumes

Production of New American Bible in braille (pictured right), large print, and audio

2019
A talking book machine

Audio book catalogue transition to Digital Talking Book Format