BANA Honors Dr. Lawrence R. Smith at 2017 Getting in Touch with Literacy Conference

Press Release
November 2017
For Immediate Release

Contact: Jennifer Dunnam, Chair
Braille Authority of North America

The Braille Authority of North America (BANA) will proudly honor Dr. Lawrence (Larry) R. Smith with its biennial Braille Excellence Award. Dr. Smith, a respected music braille transcriber and principal reviser of two music braille texts, has served as chair of two organizations' music braille committees and is a retired professor of music. This well-deserved tribute will be presented at the first general session of the 2017 Getting in Touch with Literacy Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, on Thursday morning, December 7.

Dr. Smith became interested in music braille when he taught a blind music student at Kalamazoo College. He learned both literary braille and music braille, becoming an expert music braille transcriber. Soon he assumed leadership positions in braille-related organizations, serving first as Chair of the Music Braille Committee of the National Braille Association (NBA) and then as NBA's President. Although he retired from Kalamazoo College as a full professor of music in 1996, Dr. Smith became Chair of BANA's Music Braille Committee and was principal author of BANA's most recent Music Braille Code revision, published in 2015. He was also principal reviser of the second edition of Introduction to Braille Music Transcription, published in 2005 by the Library of Congress' National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS). He continues to work in the field he loves, transcribing music braille for NLS and serving as a consultant in the preparation of the third edition of Introduction to Braille Music Transcription.

Dr. Smith's legacy will undoubtedly be his work on the 2015 edition of the Music Braille Code. Ruth Rozen, retired Senior Curriculum Designer for The Hadley Institute for the Blind and Visually Impaired and former member of the BANA Music Braille Committee, summed up this legacy in these words: "If it were not for Larry Smith's dedication and intense, detailed work on this project, BANA and the music world would not have a modern, complete manual from which to transcribe and read music braille."

A prolific composer, Dr. Smith has written pieces for orchestra, choir, and various solo instruments and ensembles. Although primarily a classical composer, he has also written some jazz scores and has experimented with electronic music.

BANA created its Braille Excellence Award in honor of Louis Braille's 200th birthday and awarded it for the first time in 2009. This will be only the fifth awarding of this prestigious award that recognizes people or organizations that have developed or contributed to a code, have developed code materials or software that supports codes, and/or who represent the highest standards of braille production.

The mission of the Braille Authority of North America is to assure literacy for tactile readers through the standardization of braille and/or tactile graphics.

You can follow the work of BANA by signing up for BANA-Announce, a one-way email list that disseminates news and information. To join this list, send a blank email message to and follow the directions in the confirmation email that will be sent in response. You can also follow BANA on Facebook and Twitter!