World Braille Day is January 4, in honor of Louis Braille's birthday. A lot has happened in the world of braille during the past year and in the final week of Braille Literacy Month we would like to review some of the highlights of 2013. This post features a number of developments in Canada, as I am an Accessibility Consultant at CNIB (Canadian National Institute for the Blind), where I am also a blogger.
January 2013 -- Updated “Celebrating Braille, A Canadian Approach” released
The Celebrating Braille, A Canadian Approach manual was updated to reflect Unified English Braille (UEB). This student manual is used to teach braille to new learners and provides Canadian examples of words and sentences in each lesson. It is available from Shop CNIB's Independent Living Specialists and other organizations across the country.
April 2013 -- Ireland joins International council On English Braille
The International Council on English Braille (ICEB) strives to coordinate and improve standards for braille usage for all English-speaking users of braille. The ICEB General Assembly meets every four years to talk about the rules and standards of braille and UEB. Ireland is the most recent country to join the council. Learn more about INBAF, the Irish National Braille and Alternative Formats Association.
April 2013 -- CNIB Moves forward with Unified English Braille (UEB)
As of April 1, 2013, all braille material originating from CNIB was produced in Unified English Braille, including braille books, circulated as part of our library collection materials and regional newsletters. This means a simpler process for those learning braille, particularly for those who have been print readers most of their lives.
June 2013 -- First Ever Braille Summit Held
NLS (the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped at the Library of Congress) and Perkins School for the Blind held a Braille Summit on the Perkins campus in Watertown, Massachusetts. The conference covered five major themes: Braille Readers, Library Selection and Collection Development, Braille Production, Braille Technology, and Promoting Braille Literacy and Awareness. See Proceedings from First-Ever Braille Summit. To learn more about the Summit, see also the review from AFB (American Foundation for the Blind).
June 2013 -- Launch of World Braille Usage (3rd edition)
Often described as "the braille bible," World Braille Usage is a compilation of braille codes for languages from around the globe. The new edition includes braille codes for 133 languages—up from 97 languages in the previous edition. Developed with support from Perkins, the International Council on English Braille, and the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, this third edition of World Braille Usage attempts to document the current state of braille around the world. More info can be found at: World Braille Usage
October 2013 -- Passing of Abraham Nemeth
The field mourned the loss of another icon on October 2, 2013 with the passing of Abraham Nemeth at the age of 94. Dr. Abraham Nemeth, the scientist who invented the Nemeth Braille Code for Mathematics and Scientific Notation, was a lifelong champion of braille and his contributions have made math and science accessible for blind people around the world. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame Read BANA’s press release.
October 2013 -- CNIB National Braille Conference
The CNIB National Braille Conference was held in Toronto, ON and offered a number of workshops for educators, transcribers, consumers and parents. It held sessions on Unified English Braille, technology for making braille accessible, and government policies relating to braille and accessibility.
October 2013 -- Launch of Braille Literacy Canada site
Formerly known as the Canadian Braille Authority, Braille Literacy Canada is a not-for-profit corporation committed to braille promotion and the right of braille users to equal access to printed information.
October 2013 -- BANA Forum UEB Transition Forum Held
BANA (Braille Authority of North America) convened a forum of the braille leaders to plan for the UEB transition. The Forum, organized and facilitated by BANA, provided the opportunity for delegates from various braille-related communities to meet face-to-face. The agenda focused on identifying specific actions and strategies required to develop plans for a smooth and effective implementation of UEB. Read the press release.
October 2013 -- Release of the supplement of examples to the Guidelines and Standards for Tactile Graphics
The Tactile Graphics Guidelines allow producers to standardize the way in which maps, charts and diagrams are produced for people who are blind or visually impaired. The examples of materials found in the guidelines are now available in print, Braille and accessible online HTML version: Guidelines and Standards for Tactile Graphics These guidelines were developed jointly by BANA and CBA, the Canadian Braille Authority, now known as Braille Literacy Canada. The current chair of the BANA Tactile Graphics committee is from Canada.
November 2013 -- UEB Rulebook Updated
The UEB (Unified English Braille) rulebook was updated to include additions such as: code switching – the difference between letters, numbers and punctuation, UEB signs for the music accidentals and the Nemeth Code indicator - the code for mathematics and scientific notation in North America. The new rule book is now available for download in print and braille from http://www.iceb.org/ueb.html.
December 2013 -- Getting In Touch with Literacy Conference
The Getting in Touch with Literacy (GITWL) conference was held December 4 – 7, 2013 in Providence, Rhode Island. The biennial GITWL conference draws a national and international audience, setting the standard for best practices, educational research, and teaching strategies that promote literacy for individuals with visual impairments. There were numerous presentations on braille literacy and UEB.
iOS Braille Apps Launched in 2013
Braille Touch and MBraille were both launched in 2013. BrailleTouch is a new app which offers users who are blind to type more quickly and easily on iOS devices, such as the iPhone or iPod Touch.
MBraille offers users a mobile braille keyboard. Both are available in the App Store.
Read more: Braille 2013: A Year in Review