Guest Post: Press Release; World Braille Day, January 4, 2019, Braille Literacy Canada

Braille Literacy Canada Commends the United Nations adoption of World Braille Day and Canada’s Accession to the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

January 4, 2019 – Toronto – Braille Literacy Canada/Littératie braille Canada (BLC), as the Canadian braille authority, celebrates the United Nations’ recent adoption of World Braille Day, recognizing it as an official day to be celebrated annually on January 4th around the world, to coincide with the birth date of Louis Braille. Official recognition of World Braille Day on the international stage brings with it a strong message to both raise awareness and celebrate the importance of braille literacy for the generations of blind people who continue to benefit from it around the globe.

“Braille represents literacy, freedom and equality for the millions of blind people who use it around the world. It is as important as print is to the sighted,” explains Natalie Martiniello, president of Braille Literacy Canada. “It enables blind children to acquire literacy, raises employment and income levels, enables people who are blind to independently vote and exercise their citizenship, and to read personal and professional communications independently. We commend the United Nations for recognizing the importance of braille by designating January 4th as World Braille Day, and we celebrate alongside braille readers everywhere.”

BLC also commends the Government of Canada which has recently announced that Canada will accede to the optional protocol to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). The UNCRPD sets guidelines to bolster the rights of persons with disabilities and calls for the abolishment of laws and practices that perpetuate discrimination. Importantly to BLC, the treaty also affirms and reinforces the importance of equal access to information for those unable to read print, including those Canadians who are blind or who have sight loss and who use braille.

Though Canada ratified the treaty in 2010, it only recently agreed to also be bound by the Optional Protocol, allowing the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to consider complaints against Canada and providing a further level of recourse at the international level for Canadians with disabilities facing discrimination.

“Access to information is not a privilege, but a right,” explains Martiniello. “We applaud the Government of Canada for acceding to the optional protocol. We hope that the Optional Protocol will provide an additional protective layer where gaps in accessibility remain and that the introduction of the Accessible Canada Act will usher in an era of increased accessibility.”

* * *

Braille Literacy Canada / Littératie braille Canada is a national charitable organization that is dedicated to the promotion of braille as the primary medium of literacy for those who are blind or visually impaired and is recognized by the International Council on English Braille as the authority for the development and adoption of standards relating to braille in Canada.

For more information, please contact Natalie Martiniello, President, at 1-877-861-4576 or email president@blc-lbc.ca.

 

Guest Post: Braille Literacy Canada Newsletter, November 30, 2018

November 2018 Newsletter

In This Issue

  1. Message from the President (Natalie Martiniello, BLC President)
  2. Braille is …
  3. Helping Santa Deliver Braille Letters: A T-Base Tradition (Cassandra Peterson)
  4. Report on the 2018 CNIB Braille Conference (Kim Kilpatrick, BLC Secretary)
  5. CELA Braille Services Update (Lindsay Tyler, Senior Manager, CELA)
  6. Titres en impression relief et en braille français (Rebecca Blaevoet (BLC Director) and Emmanuel Blaevoet)
  7. Braille Transcription Free of Charge!(CNIB Brailleroom)
  8. UEB Christmas Trees? (Jen Goulden, Past President)
  9. Braille and Technology Together: Braille Screen Input in iOS (Ashley Eve Shaw Galbraith)
  10. Social Media News Links

Message from the President

By Natalie Martiniello, BLC President

Dear BLC friends,

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

This is a quote by Anne Frank that often comes to mind when I observe a gesture – even a small one – that has an impact on someone else. When a hundred small gestures take place at once, then each one contributes to the end result – which is positive change of some kind. And surprisingly, sometimes there are trickle down effects that end up having positive impacts in ways one could not have imagined.

I am a firm believer that few things are “impossible” if you dream big enough, remain committed, and collaborate with the talented and equally passionate people around you.

Just over four months ago, BLC embarked upon a quite ambitious goal for a small volunteer-run organization – Raise $6,500 by November 30th, and a private donor would match every dollar. With this amount in hand, we would have enough to establish a permanent endowment to offer the Edie Mourre scholarship on an annual basis to those pursuing careers as braille transcribers and educators.

Today, as that campaign draws to a close, we have not only met that goal, but have surpassed it. This is a reflection of what is possible when we come together. With $14,000, the Edie Mourre fund will be self-sustaining for the years to come. What a wonderful legacy to Edie Mourre who committed so much of her time to the braille community, and what a wonderful example of how many small gestures could lead to a lasting wave!

The BLC board would like to thank every individual, both within and outside the organization, who supported this initiative in different ways. We would also like to thank two of our corporate members – T-Base Communications for donating $300 and Crawford Technologies for donating $2,500, ensuring that we’d speed through that finish line with a great big triple dot six!

I mentioned trickle down effects. In addition to raising funds, the campaign served as a powerful public education tool. The events held as a consequence educated members of the general public who, beforehand, new little or absolutely nothing at all about blindness and braille. After our storytelling fundraiser in Montreal (performed by our fabulous board Secretary, Kim Kilpatrick) we received a letter from someone who had attended our show and said that they had learned so much about braille, equal access and literacy for people who are blind. These moments are great triumphs – because every time we tackle misconceptions, we are chipping away at the inaccuracies that may exist about blindness, and which sometimes lead to questions like “is braille really important, anyway?” A few more people out there can now answer – Yes, of course it is! Right alongside us.

So, as we approach the holidays, the BLC board would like to thank all of you for your commitment and dedication – and may this serve as a reminder of what is possible when we come together!

You will find many treasures in the coming pages. Among them, T-Base tells us about their partnership with Santa himself and how blind children can receive a letter in braille from Santa this holiday season. Tactile Vision Graphics shares with us their French braille resources for children. Jen Goulden, Past President, tackles another transcription conundrum. Kim Kilpatrick, Secretary, gives us a recap of the 2018 CNIB Braille Conference. Over the past month, we’ve asked members to tell us what words and thoughts come to mind when they hear the word “braille”. The collection of responses is found in this issue, and the power of literacy rings true in every word!

Finally, remember that BLC runs on a calendar year from January 1st to December 31st, which means it is soon time to renew your membership. To learn more about membership options (annual, lifetime and corporate) and member benefits, visit our website at www.brailleliteracycanada.ca or write to us at info@blc-lbc.ca. Members who are due for renewal can expect to receive an invoice from PayPal in the coming days to make the process easy and painless.

From the entire BLC board to you, happy holidays! Here’s to another year of endless possibilities.

Yours truly,
Natalie Martiniello
President, Braille Literacy Canada

Braille is …

We’ve asked BLC members and friends to complete the sentence “braille is…”. Here is what they had to say!

Braille is…

…Independence (Tammy, braille reader)

…An excellent tool (Walter, Low Vision Therapist/Researcher)

…Fun to read in the dark under the covers so I don’t get cold! (Steph, adult braille learner)

…A necessity (Chantal, braille reader)

…rough! (Albert, blind technology trainer)

…magical (Kim, braille reader)

…A true “feeling” of beauty (Veena, Low Vision Therapist)

…Literacy (Elizabeth, braille reader)

…fun! I like playing braille bingo and braille memory games! (Ainsley, Grade 3)

…The best way to teach and learn!

…Memorizing

…The best way to help me learn

…Useful on elevators, money and medication (Ahmad, ESL student)

…Reading, writing and math

…Information

…Entertainment

…Helping (Santiago, ESL Student)

…The best way for blind people to study

…An international language for blind people

…Like a secret code! (I think you’re smarter if you can read braille, because not everyone on the street can read Braille!) (Fatlum, ESL student)

…the gateway to Middle Earth, Narnia, Hogwarts, Regency England, Green Gables … and so much more! (Jen, lifelong braille reader: so many books, so little time!)

…a lifetime of memories of storybooks, campfires, bedtimes, make-believing and library adventures (Natalie, lifelong braille reader)

…what print is to you: a door and a window to everything!

…B – Believing
R – Reaching
A – Achieving
I – Imagining
L – Limitless
L – Learning
E – Empowering

Helping Santa Deliver Braille Letters: A T-Base Tradition

By Cassandra Peterson

Editor’s Note: T-Base is a corporate member of BLC and Jessica Blouin sits on the BLC board as our T-Base representative. This article is reprinted with permission and can be found on the T-Base website at https://www.tbase.com/helping-santa-deliver-braille-letters-a-t-base-tradition/?fbclid=IwAR3KkhcZpniRS_3fqjkYemW5Th_av0GfFEi5oqr5LTKjvxAQe30UvpJFpo4.

Cassie Peterson, Marketing Coordinator at T-Base Communications, sat down with Jessica Blouin, Manager of Transcription Services, to talk about an initiative near and dear to our hearts here at T-Base: the Santa Letter Program. Every year we help Santa deliver braille letters to children who are blind or have low vision.

C: How long has T-Base been participating in the Santa Letter Program?

J: T-Base has been participating in the Santa Letter Program for over a decade.

C: Please tell us about the process.

J: Every year in the fall we receive a call from Kris Kringle himself. He tells us how many children he needs to respond to in braille, plus how many of those need a response in English and how many need a response in French. Santa provides us with his print response to each child’s letter, and then our Transcription team gets to work! As is the case with all documents we transcribe into braille (or other alternate formats), Santa’s letters go through rigorous quality assurance checks to ensure nothing is amiss and that the transcribed documents meet Santa’s high expectations. Finally, we help pack up the letters for Santa to deliver.

C: By which date should children send their letter to Santa?

J: Children should send their letters to Santa by the 10th of December. (If you send one after, he might not have enough time to respond before the big day!)

C: What address should children send their letters to?

J: Children should send their letters to Santa Claus at his North Pole address:

Santa Claus
North Pole HOH OHO
CANADA

C: Why is it important that T-Base participates in this program every year?

J: For children, receiving a letter from Santa Claus is a great joy during the holiday season, and it is one all children should have the opportunity to experience. I do remember how happy I was as a child receiving a letter back from Santa. Collaborating with Santa on this project is important to T-Base because we get to help ensure children who are blind or have low vision experience the same joy their sighted family members and friends experience. This is such a wonderful program.

C: What feedback have you received on this program?

J: T-Base has always received positive feedback on the Santa Letter Program. We have heard from both parents and teachers that children are always so happy and thankful to receive a braille letter from Santa in the mail.

C: In what other ways is T-Base committed to ensuring that people who are blind or low vision have access to information?

J: At T-Base, we believe that equal access to information is key to literacy and independent living, regardless of whether that information is in a simple letter from Santa Claus or a complex math textbook. Everyone has the same rights, and we are committed to ensuring that organizations have the resources they need to provide their customers who are blind or low vision with equal access to information. We produce statements, documents and textbooks in a wide range of alternate formats: accessible PDF, e-Text, audio, braille and reflowed large print. We also give $2,000 every year to one or two post-secondary students who are blind or low vision through the T-Base-AEBC Scholarship Program (in support of an accessible education).

C: What are some other holiday traditions at T-Base?

J: Typically, we host a potluck lunch at the office and Secret Santa gift exchange. This year we will have an ugly holiday sweater fashion show.

C: Wonderful! Thanks for letting our readers know about the program and T-Base’s involvement in it. Something else our readers might be interested in hearing about is your favourite memory from a T-Base holiday gathering.

J: My favourite memory from a T-Base holiday gathering is when Scott Bagshaw, Production Manager, dressed up as Santa Claus, sang karaoke and handed out candy canes to the team.

C: Before we wrap up, what is on your wish list this holiday season?

J: A puppy! Besides that, I know everyone here at T-Base wishes our readers a safe and happy holiday.

Report on the 2018 CNIB Braille Conference

By Kim Kilpatrick, BLC Secretary

The 2018 Braille conference took place for the first time at the Ontario Science Centre on October 18 and 19, 2018.

This was a wonderful venue and it was nice to have the braille conference in a public place where the many visitors saw people moving around with canes, guide dogs, and lots of braille in hand.

As usual, there were many workshops on a multitude of topics and several BLC board members presented on research, braille and technology, and more. Among these talks Past-President Jen Goulden and I (BLC Secretary) presented on the use of refreshable braille with iOS, President Natalie Martiniello presented the preliminary results from her qualitative study on the experiences of older adults who have learned braille, and director Rebecca Blaevoet presented on Tactile Vision Graphics. BLC board members also had the opportunity to circulate our new print-braille BLC bookmarks – available upon request!

The AMI Audio show Kelly and Companybroadcasted live from the conference on both days and several BLC members were featured on this show.

As usual, one highlight for me was hearing the winners of the braille creative writing contest for students in elementary and high schools from across Canada.

I was excited to touch for the first time, the first ever multi-line braille display (The Canute) which may be on the market within the next year or so.

As usual, it was wonderful and heart warming to be in a room filled with others who love braille as much as we all do.

CELA Braille Services Update

By Lindsay Tyler, Senior Manager, CELA

Braille readers who receive books from the Centre for Equitable Library Access (CELA) are receiving books in a new way. Since April 2018, we emboss a fresh copy of each braille book we send. This procedure allows us to offer as many copies of each book as needed, so readers do not need to wait for others to return a book before they can receive it. Each copy we send is fresh and crisp.

Instead of sending braille books in a cloth bag, we send them in a cardboard box which can be recycled along with the book. Readers may choose to keep books, if they prefer.

Printbraille books (children’s picture books with braille added) are the exception to this new system; readers must continue to return them.

The formatting of the books is different, too. Newly transcribed books are formatted as a single volume with continuous page numbers. The title will appear in the header as well as at the beginning of the book. Previously transcribed books are split into parts of about 80 pages each.

Looking forward, CELA staff are planning a new website that will bring even more books to Canadian braille readers. The new website will bring together Bookshare’s braille offerings with CELA’s in a single, accessible site.

The new year will also bring the opportunity to exchange books with libraries for people with print disabilities in the United States and Europe, thanks to their recent ratifications of the Marrakesh Treaty. The goal of the Marrakesh Treaty is to remove barriers so that organizations like CELA can share accessible reading materials with other similar organizations in countries who have signed the Treaty.

As we work to improve our services and offer you greater access to books and information, we hope you will let us know how we are doing. Visit our website at http://www.celalibrary.ca, email us at help@celalibrary.ca or call 1-855-655-2273.

Those who are interested can also contact CELA to subscribe to the hard copy braille version of the BLC newsletter.

Titres en impression relief et en braille français

By Rebecca Blaevoet (BLC Director) and Emmanuel Blaevoet

Note: We’ve received several requests lately for information on where to purchase french print-braille books. In this article, Rebecca and Emmanuel from Tactile Vision Graphics describe their French collection. We will include an English translation of this article in the January issue.

Tactile Vision Graphics Inc. a toujours eu le but de produire toutes nos ressources et en Anglais et en Français. Notre entreprise est de très petite taille, donc nous n’avons pas encore été capables de produire en Français la totalité des titres qui existent en Anglais. Il nous a fallu faire des choix au départ. Il reste encore du travail.

Pour commencer, il nous a semblé que le domaine le plus important et celui par où il fallait commencer était les ressources pour le développement des concepts: la littératie et la numératie.

Chaque livre contient un peu de texte, en braille intégral, évidemment, et une image correspondante que les enfants peuvent toucher, (et même colorier) et discuter.

Les images tactiles enseignent des concepts importants:

  • Les formes de bases;
  • Accorder une image avec un mot qui le décrit;
  • L’orientation spatiale;
  • La directionalité;
  • La taille relative;
  • Le commencement de l’abstraction, qui est une connaissance critique pour le développement de l’enfant et la préparation à sa vie d’adulte;
  • Une représentation des choses qui sont plus difficiles à toucher en réalité (une maison par exemple)

Ainsi nous avons en catalogue un série de livres tactiles pour enfants, parmi eux « Mon Abécédaire », « Mon Livre des Chiffres » et « Discret Comme Une Souris: un Petit Livre des Similarités »

Au delà notre collection de livres pour enfants, nous avons aussi plusieurs cartes de vœux pour toutes les occasions et des livres à colorier avec les titres en impression relief et en braille français.

Nous vous invitons à visiter notre site web, chercher le “shop” et découvrir l’étendue de nos publications.

Vous pouvez aussi bien sûr nous appeler pour poser des questions ou pour placer une commande au (226) 221-8849

http://www.tactilevisiongraphics.com

Braille Transcription Free of Charge!

By CNIB Brailleroom

We’re all familiar with the adage “Nothing in life is free”; but the CNIB Brailleroom can braille just about anything, free of charge, for CNIB clients and their families.

  • Letters and greeting cards
  • Household labels
  • Music scores
  • Course materials
  • Prescription/medical information

Note that this is not an exhaustive list.

Email your text in a Word document to: brailleroom@cnib.ca

Mail or drop off your printed materials:

CNIB Brailleroom (Room 104)
1929 Bayview Avenue, Toronto, ON M4G 3E8

UEB Christmas Trees?

By Jen Goulden, Past President

It is that time of year again, and it really is beginning to look a lot like Christmas where I live. You might be wondering how I could possibly make a connection between Christmas trees and UEB, but whether you prefer to decorate a pine, spruce or Douglas fir, they are all conifers … or coniferous.

So here’s the question for transcribers: Are they con-i-fer-ous or co-ni-fer-ous trees?

Section 10.6.1 of the UEB rule book states the following: Use the lower groupsign for “be”, “con” or “dis” when the letters it represents form the first syllable of a word (such as concept or control … or contraction). According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary the first syllable of both conifer and coniferous is “co”. This means that the “con” contraction cannot be used.

I think the main cause of the confusion is that DBT does use “con” in these words. Ironically, there was no “con” in conifer or coniferous before UEB either. This is just another example showing that not much has changed in literary braille with the update to UEB.

Of course, we could just avoid the co-nun-drum altogether by simply calling them evergreens!

Braille and Technology Together: Braille Screen Input in iOS

By Ashley Eve Shaw Galbraith

People often ask me if braille skills are still useful, given the recent development of technologically advanced accessibility solutions. There are many reasons why braille is still necessary, but some of my favorite examples are the ways in which braille and technology intersect. Braille screen input, for instance, provides touch screen users with a typing method that is both fast and efficient.

For users of Apple’s iOS, Braille Screen Input has been a standard feature of the screen reader VoiceOver for several years now. The option allows users to enter text by touching the screen with the combination of fingers associated with each Braille character, in either contracted or uncontracted Braille. Accessed through the Voiceover Rotor in any text field, this option allows Braille users to type much faster than with the touch screen’s qwerty keyboard. It also allows for a greater degree of discretion than the use of text dictation, and makes it possible to enter long passwords with ease and privacy. Since Unified English Braille is an available translation table, I’ve also been able to get a lot of practice with UEB whenever I use my iPhone.

Learning to use touch screen Braille takes a bit of initial effort. The user holds the device in landscape mode, either on a flat surface or with the screen facing outward. Touching and holding fingers on the screen will activate Explore Mode, and the device will report the corresponding combination of dots from the Braille cell. A single finger swipe to the right enters a space, a single swipe to the left erases the previous character, a two finger swipe to the left erases the previous word, and a two finger swipe to the right starts a new line. Swiping up and down after completing a word provides any alternative suggestions. After a bit of practice, the user will be able to type quickly and smoothly.

Before Braille screen input was available, I was stuck either carrying around a Bluetooth keyboard, or typing relatively slowly on the touch screen qwerty keyboard. Now I use Braille to type text messages, emails, web addresses and phone numbers. This is just one example of Braille’s versatility and efficiency when combined with technology.

Social Media News Links

Social Media Links

Here are just some of the gems posted on BLC social media platforms since the last issue: Follow us on twitter or like us on Facebook for more!

Time to celebrate – the United States ratifies the Marrakesh Treaty! https://benetech.org/united-states-ratifies-marrakesh-treaty/

Brick-A-Braille teaching system – available for testing: https://robotics.benedettelli.com/braille/?fbclid=IwAR3V7N-aUd-rKLS9NOBqO5vfW8NjDMM_vsPSg8c4pE9BX6WutB1Z9BHXQYA#download

A story about introducing braille to sighted children: https://www.wvnews.com/prestoncountynews/news/read-aloud-program-incorporates-fun-into-reading/article_d9588de6-f61d-5cdd-9bb3-5438a6cb1501.html?fbclid=IwAR0syl8PYUrtygJxvm-a4R3eZtbWbRuY1VNDREVLy2YgrOqucP2ghxCkvWI

Custom-made braille cards with your personalized messages – great for the holidays! https://www.sensorysun.org/blog/send-braille-cards/?fbclid=IwAR1j9358r3brESYoBBIjO7bbGF522Zb6ozirQDSqSpFeAi07y5Zmz6vxExI

Is braille still relevant in the 21st century workplace? spoiler alert Like print, the answer is… YES!! https://www.afb.org/blog/careerconnect-blog/is-braille-useful-on-the-job/12?fbclid=IwAR3uFG1xExtQzLj4nCUZjN0PBlxGZe01G-AMRbQzB7YI4fNvhF0wmtlsgbQ

Tips for teaching braille to students with decreased tactile sensitivity: http://www.pathstoliteracy.org/blog/12-more-ideas-teaching-braille-students-decreased-tactile-sensitivity?fbclid=IwAR0XO6_SSqFDL9510HlCjG5UMStxwLA9AvM9GUaeXQp3HC1P3x33vmCOg4s

French alphabet print-braille book available through Tactile Vision Graphics: http://tactilevisiongraphics.com/product/livre-en-braille-mon-abcdaire/?fbclid=IwAR2RMKDsHCjPoQhS1a5mhph3U-bzkVWBJhcAbOWiU3jzMSc23AGblC6rpU0

The SENSEsational Alphabet Book is back in stock at Seedlings! This popular book for ages 0-5 features the English alphabet in print, braille and sign language. Kids can press the buttons to hear each letter, as well as feel and smell pictures of items starting with each letter: http://www.seedlings.org/details.php?id=1353&cat=0&search=SENSEsational&fbclid=IwAR0c0uwhFaej9mUPV0ShdVyWb9T_yqa6NNivyhnhD5Or4L5UWtOEAOIUdd8

The Bank of Canada has announced that it will begin to phase out the bank note reader program. It has been determined “that there are more modern devices that can be used to denominate bank notes”. For example, did you know that all paper money in Canada has tactile markings to help blind and LowVision people identify each bill? For more information, visit: https://cnib.ca/en/news/bank-note-reader-program-and-recall?region=qc&fbclid=IwAR3B5sHXRMs28PioUSfxZ8YR1feDLF3p_tldayH_yqyHh0UlC15VhMxZ-8A

A collection of high-interest short stories from National Braille Press for adults who are learning uncontracted braille! Visit: http://www.pathstoliteracy.org/resources/short-stories-adults-learning-uncontracted-ueb?fbclid=IwAR2-MbIffsCryGdmfve9WQ-SAD1Tq1MUEC1UfnHw5Z7pl27V79MDjm81xT0


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Guest Post: NNELS/SDPP-D Federal Grant Updates, November 14, 2018

SDPP-D Federal Grant Updates – November 2018

 

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

 

*Note: This is a text version of the Federal Grant Updates page on the NNELS website, which can be accessed by activating this link.  We thank CCB staff and all the other partners who worked on this project, as well as those who will work on the next stage.  #AccessibilityMatters.

 

Press Release from Employment and Social Development Canada: /Government

funds library network service expansion to make more published works

available in formats accessible for Canadians with print disabilities

 

*

 

From January to June 2018, NNELS worked on a series of special projects to enhance the production and availability of accessible-format material in Canada. The project was funded in large part by a grant from the Government of Canada’s Social Development Partnerships Program – Disability Component (SDPP-D). In September 2018, the BC Libraries Cooperative received an additional $1 million to carry out a series of new special projects to build on the momentum created from the previous grant work. New projects focus on three main areas: accessible publishing, accessible reading, and braille availability.

 

Summaries of these projects follow, and this page will be updated as the projects are carried out. For answers to your questions please write to

support@nnels.ca

 

 

  1. Accessible Publishing

 

NNELS continues to work with partners to support publishers in creating born accessible material.

 

 

  1. a) Accessible Publishing Summit

 

This invitation-only summit will be held in Toronto on January 28th and 29th, 2019, and will include stakeholders in the ebook production, distribution, and reading chain. We will create and distribute a set of best practices for accessible EPUB relevant to  communities along that chain; related documentation will be publicly available online. We are working with Laura Brady <https://twitter.com/LauraB7&gt; to organize this event.

 

 

  1. b) Accessible Publishing Workshops

 

In February, Lisa Snider of Access Changes Everything will host ten, two-day accessible publishing workshops across Canada. We have invited publishers and publishers’ associations to contact us if they would like to host a workshop in their city. The two-day workshops will allow the first day to offer a theoretical grounding for hands-on, practical experience on the second day.

 

 

  1. c) EPUB Accessibility Reports/Audits

 

We will be working with Lisa Snider, Farrah Little, and our stellar team of accessibility testers to create accessibility reports for 60 EPUB files from 30 Canadian publishers. In the first week of November, we sent an invitation to publishers and have received a great response, especially from Ontario publishers. We hope to have all 60 files by December 1st. Publishers can sign up here.

 

 

  1. d) DAISY Consortium Partnership

 

We are funding the DAISY Consortium to develop and enhance their open-source, user-friendly version of the Ace by DAISY. To date, Ace by DAISY has been a command-line tool, but the new release has a graphical user interface. DAISY is also preparing the Accessible Publishing Knowledge Base

<http://kb.daisy.org/publishing/&gt; and EPUBTest.org

<https://epubtest.org/&gt; website for language localization,

And translating both Ace by DAISY and EPUBTest.org into French.

 

On November 6th, we were invited by DAISY to a conference call to review their latest version of a test book used at EPUBtest.org to test different reading applications. One of our accessibility testers was able to attend and wrote afterward, “It was so much fun to just talk our lingo for an hour with them. I learned a lot, too. I’m able to present more refined recommendations to cover images in my reports now, and I’ve finally figured out how page navigation is supposed to work! I couldn’t believe it when people started signing off. I almost said, “Hey wait a minute, this was supposed to last an hour,” then I checked the time and was astonished to see that it indeed had.”

 

DAISY is actively including our team in their work: we are learning so much from them and so grateful for this opportunity!

 

  1. e) Plugins for Publishers

 

Publishers have asked for plugins they can use with their ebook editing software to automate repetitive tasks and improve accessibility. We posted an RFP for a plugin developer which closed on November 2nd, and we are working on next steps.

 

  1. Accessible Reading

 

 

  1. a) Purchasing

 

We have approached eBOUND to inquire about purchasing titles published since our last round of funding, and to invite participation from publishers who did not work with us in the spring. We also sent an invitation through Canadian publishers’ associations to purchase their material directly from them or through their distributors.

 

We have agreements in place with two major digital audiobook vendors to purchase jointly with CELA/CNIB. Purchasing is beginning mid-November. We have budgeted a total of $100,000 for new content.

 

 

  1. b) Testing Library Reading Apps

 

Our team of accessibility testers are exploring the accessibility of library reading applications, with input from DAISY and CELA. The purpose of this project is to give vendors specific feedback about their reading apps so that audiobooks and accessible ebooks are available to all readers through those platforms. The team is currently testing the OverDrive app on a variety of platforms. NNELS will share the results with the vendors and the Canadian public library community.

 

  1. c) Partnership with Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired

 

We are thrilled to continue working with the Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired <https://campbowen.ca/&gt; to further develop the beta version of their Production Tool, a tool that automates and streamlines the EPUB remediation process. As part of this process, Camp Bowen will create 18 accessible-format titles for the NNELS repository.

 

 

  1. d) National Requests

 

We are once again accepting nation-wide requests to produce books that are not currently available in accessible formats. A link to submit requests will be distributed and posted here soon.

 

 

 

  1. Braille Availability

 

 

  1. a) Print-Braille Childrens’ Books

 

In partnership with the Vision Impaired Resource Network (VIRN) in Manitoba, we are producing 5 titles in French to be distributed through every provincial and territorial Public Library Authority. Special thank you to staff at BAnQ for helping us select titles! This project builds on previous work done with VIRN to expand the Canadian print-braille collection.

 

 

  1. b) Hardcopy and Electronic Braille Pilot Project

 

Our Saskatchewan-based Braille Production Coordinator, Riane LaPaire, is coordinating the production of 50 hardcopy and 50 electronic braille titles for distribution through NNELS and Canadian public libraries. This pilot project will inform future decisions on choosing braille producers, braille quality, and distribution methods. This project is based on recommendations from the “Improving Braille Availability in Canadian Public Library.

 

 

You are invited to a teleconference hosted by Braille Literacy Canada on January 9 2016. 

You are invited  Teleconference – Braille In The 21st Century
Join Braille Literacy Canada for a teleconference on Braille in the 21st Century!

 

Are you currently learning, or thinking about learning braille? Are you an avid braille reader, or perhaps you use braille for specific tasks such as labelling household items? This workshop is for you! Listen to a panel of braille users discuss different themes related to “Braille in the 21st Century”, and learn what is new and exciting in the world of braille.

 

When: Saturday, January 9th, 2016 at 10 AM (Pacific), 1 PM (Eastern). The workshop will run for one hour.

Who: Both braille users and those learning braille

Where: By telephone. To register, write to info@blc-lbc.ca before January 4th, 2016, and we will send you the information to join us.

 

This workshop will be moderated by Betty Nobel, Past President and current board member of Braille Literacy Canada. Speakers will cover the following topics:

1. “A Toolbox of Solutions: Braille and Low Vision” (Jennifer Jesso): Do

you

have low vision and are wondering how braille can complement print, what braille might offer to someone with low vision, and how to use braille alongside magnification and other tools? Jennifer Jesso, a braille user with low vision who also uses magnification and a screen reader, will be discussing how braille fits into her toolbox of solutions and her experience as a braille user with low vision.

 

2. “What Braille Means to Me: Ideas for Braille in Daily Living”

(Marilyn Rushton): Listen to one longtime braille user (and teacher of students with visual impairments) talk about the role braille continues to play in her life, and why she says it is not obsolete, even in an ever-increasing technological world. As a user and educator, Marilyn will draw on her own experiences to provide tips and examples of how you can use braille in your daily life. Whether you are an avid reader of books, simply require a way to identify household items, or are thinking about learning braille, you’ll love the experiences and resources she has to share!

 

3. “Where We’ve Been and Where We Are: Evolution of Braille

Technologies” (Diana Brent): The ways in which we access and interact with braille have, in some cases, drastically changed over the past few decades

alone: from a time when the slate and stylus and Perkins brailler were the only tools available to those who use braille, to the present when technologies can provide instant access to braille on both your computer and mobile devices. Diana, a braille user and technology expert, will draw on her own experience to discuss how braille and technology can work together, and will give us a tour of braille technologies over the years. Join Diana to hear all about it!

 

4. “Looking Ahead: Future Innovations in Braille Technology” (Natalie Martiniello):

The future for those who read braille is limitless. In the past two years alone, numerous new technologies currently in development or at the prototype stage are gaining greater attention, and will revolutionize the ways in which we access braille. From smart braille watches to affordable multiline braille displays – you won’t believe what is coming in the future of braille! Join Natalie as she discusses all the new and exciting tools that you will want to keep a finger on in the world of braille! Both a braille user and educator, Natalie will discuss how such new technologies can enhance both the ways in which we learn and use braille.

 

To register, write to info@blc-lbc.ca by January 4th, 2016 

Article on Braille. Is it becoming outdated?

Is braille less relevant now?  I really hope not.

Posted by Kim Kilpatrick

GTT Coordinator

I learned braille when I was six years old.

I could not wait to do that!

Having others read to me was interesting but not totally satisfying as I wanted to read for myself.

Braille was wonderful.

I could read and write by myself.

I could read in the dark and not get caught.

I could read in moving vehicles and not get sick.

But, braille was bulky.

Huge books, braille machines that were noisy and heavy to carry.

For GTT, I have been able to play with several braille displays.

I’d like to thank the people from Aroga Technologies and from canadialog who have been letting me play with braille displays.

I have tried out the focus displays, braille note from humanware, braille edge, and braille sense.

It is such a pleasure to be able to read and write braille any time with my I devices.

I prefer it to anything else.

 

I have also started playing with the braille screen input mode built into IOS 8.

I am getting more used to it.

If any of you are using it or other braille displays and products, I would love to hear all about it.

So, I was delighted to read this article.

it is from June 2014 and I share it with you.

 

Braille isn’t [quote] embattled–we’re on the cusp of a golden age for blind
people

Far from heralding the death of a great medium, technology may be ushering
in a new era of access and greater independence

Ian Macrae, The Guardian (UK)
Thursday, May 22, 2014.

[photo caption:]  A cash machine keypad with Braille: ‘Braille has gone
digital.’

Imagine a situation where you walk into your favourite restaurant and ask
for the menu, only to be told it isn’t available. Chances are it wouldn’t
stay your favourite for very long.

As a braillist–someone who uses braille–the dream for me is when the
opposite happens. A small number of chain restaurants offer menus in
braille; sometimes, they’re even up to date.

It is difficult to over-express the sense of liberation at being able to
browse and choose your preferred pizza independently. And in Co-op
supermarkets, where some of the own-brand labels feature braille, there is
pride in being able to identify a bottle of wine from a label that few if
any other people in the store are able to read.

All too often, though, finding anything in shops is a matter of random
selection, peering in earnest, or asking for help. And just when it seemed
the situation couldn’t get any worse for braillists, along come headlines
suggesting the end is nigh for braille, that this communication lifeline is
about to be cut off.

This week, Dr Matthew Rubery, curator of an exhibition on alternative
methods of reading for blind people, described braille as [quote] embattled.
He went on to say its biggest threat [quote] is computer technology, which
makes it much easier not to have to learn it. A lot of people fear braille
won’t survive because it will be read by so few people. The use has declined
and there are concerns about funding to keep it going.

This seems to me a rather glass-half-empty view, although there is some
evidence to support his argument. Anecdotally, it is claimed blind children
are no longer being taught braille. This is said to be owing to sighted
teachers who believe computer technology, and in particular synthesised
speech, has rendered it redundant. Therefore, the teachers don’t need to
learn braille either.

If this is true, and no other factors were to come into play, then the
outlook might really look bad. But, like print, braille has gone through a
process of evolution. It started out in classrooms as the equivalent of the
slate – my five-year-old hands punched out each dot individually through a
sheet of thick manilla paper. We learned to write it backwards and read it
forwards.

Then Harold Wilson’s [quote] white heat  age of technology ushered in the
mechanical era. Classrooms echoed to the deafening collective rattle of 15
or more braille machines – the Stainsby, the Perkins, the Lavender –
pounding away at dictation or composition.

And now, like print with its tablets, Kindles and touch screens, braille has
gone digital. And it is my belief that this could well mean it becomes more
widely available and infinitely more useful. This is important because it
means all children in future will be able to enjoy the same degree of
literacy, not to mention the same levels of liberation and pleasure, as I do
now.

Think of this: I am writing and editing this piece on an Apple computer
using braille from an electronic display that drives pins into the correct
shapes to form a line of braille text. Once the piece is published I will be
able to go to the Guardian website on my iPhone or iPad, use Bluetooth to
connect up a portable braille device, and read it along with you. The main
problem currently is the cost of the braille-reading equipment: the cheapest
is 900 [pounds].

But, fellow reader, we are now in the age of the app and of haptic
technology, which communicates through vibration and touch. It is already
possible for me to download an app that will create on my touch screen a
virtual braille keyboard on which I can compose texts, emails, tweets and
Facebook updates in braille.

Meanwhile, the search is already on for the holy grail of braille–a means
of creating dots without using expensive mechanical cells that make the
shape of braille characters using pins. Then the world would truly be at our
fingertips.

What is needed is an app that would turn digital text on your device into
electronic impulses in the shape of braille characters, transmitted by the
screen of your iPad or other tablet, to be read by touch. To go back to my
restaurant quandary, all I would need to do would be to call up the menu
online, put it through my haptic braille app, and read it on my screen.

Add into that mix a scanning app, and I could point my device at what was on
the supermarket shelf and have the haptic braille app produce the package
information.

And if you think this is hopelessly optimistic pie in the sky, it’s worth
remembering that less than five years ago 96% of all books produced would
never be turned into forms accessible to blind people. But with the advent
of e-books and existing technology, I am now able to read pretty much any
book I want to in electronic braille.

So rather than seeing the end of braille, we could be entering a golden age
of access and communication. Here’s to more pizza, more wine, and more
braille.


from:
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/may/22/braille-golden-age-blin
d-people-technology