A decision taken by the Western Cape Synod of the Dutch Reformed Church in SA in 1880 led to the establishment of the Institute for the Blind and Deaf in Worcester. The School for the Blind was established in 1881 to attend to the needs of blind learners. The first learners were admitted on 15 June 1881 and from then onwards they needed learning and reading material. During these early years the blind learners and teacher had to write braille notes for use in the classroom.
The School for the Blind started braille transcribing and printing on a “stereo maker” and the first braille printing press was purchased in 1903. In 1904 a braille newsletter/magazine “De Pionier” was published. The second electronically driven stereo machine was bought in 1932. The braille printing press was called “Die Môreligpers” and in 1939 a new stereo machine and printing press were bought on which the braille transcribing of the Afrikaans Bible started. The transcribing of the first Afrikaans Bible in braille was completed in 1940. Braille music notation has been printed for the SA Braille Music Library since 1943.
In 1948 the first separate class for the partially sighted was formed and only later, in 1964, large print literature was initiated.
The first experiments with audio recordings were made in 1956 and in 1958 a small studio was built. In 1959 the first audio book was recorded and it was called “Oupa Landman se viool”. Later during that year audio production on open reel tapes started.
In 1980 the braille, the large print and the audio recording departments moved into a new building. This newly formed unit with all three departments together was called the “Literature Production Unit”. In 1988 the building was named after “Victor Hugo Vaughn”. In 1995 the name “Literature production unit” changed to “Pioneer Printers” the literature production unit of Pioneer School for the visually impaired.
FIT IN TODAY
Pioneer Printers operated as the literature production unit of the Pioneer School, which is a government school, within the Western Cape Education Department (WCED).
Pioneer Printers has a separate budget from Pioneer School and the budget is based on a break-even principle. The only government subsidy that Pioneer Printers receives from WCED is in the form of salaries for almost 50% (20) permanent staff members. In 2011 Pioneer Printers became a non-profit organisation generating its own funds and working in close relation with Pioneer School and Kaleidoscope SA (Institute for the Blind)