Braillecast Extra, Episode 5 – An Introduction to the Slate and Stylus

This session was a practical introduction to the Hand Frame (also known as a Slate and Stylus). We covered inserting the paper, holding the stylus and writing some characters, as well as some basic types of frame and where to get them, and we answered many questions from participants. The session was led by James Bowden, Braille Technical Officer at RNIB.

This session was recorded on Tuesday 10 November 2020. For further information please visit the Braillists Foundation Media Page.

Braillecast, Episode 19 – Letter From Santa and the Braille Challenge Skill

Christmas is coming; the goose is getting fat; and some of Santa’s most trusted helpers have been sent, on secondment, to the Royal National Institute of Blind People, where they’re busy writing letters to visually impaired children in accessible formats. Co-ordinating this effort on behalf of RNIB is Racheal Jarvis, News Agent Team Leader, and she joined us to tell us more about this exciting project.

To request a letter from Santa, please fill out the form on this page, email [email protected] or write to Santa Clause, RNIB, Midgate House, Midgate, Peterborough, PE1 1TN. Deadline for receipt of postal requests is Tuesday 1 December 2020, or Monday 21 December for emails.

Also on this episode, we hear about the Braille Challenge Alexa skill from, inc.

Braillecast Extra, Episode 4 – Getting Around the Orbit Reader 20

Dave Williams, Brailleists Foundation Chair and Customer Experience Manager at RNIB talks us through the Orbit Reader. What is it, how does it compare to other displays on the market and how can you get one?

This session was recorded on Tuesday 3 November 2020. For further information please visit the Braillists Foundation Media Page.

Braillecast Extra, Episode 2 – Stuart Lawler

This episode is a recording of a Stay Safe: Stay Connected call with Stuart Lawler held on Friday 14 August 2020.

Stuart Lawler has co-hosted many a Dublin Braillists meeting since 2015. He became Specialist Lead for Braille Product Portfolio at Sight and Sound technology Ltd in September 2018 and has over 20 years’ experience working in the Assistive Technology industry, including as a member of the Irish National Braille and Alternative Formats Association (INBAF) and, prior to joining Sight and Sound, as Rehabilitation Centre Manager and Head of Technology Innovation at the National Council for the Blind in Ireland.

This session explained how various levels of braille technology, for example a note taker or display, might be advantageous for you in different situations. It also covered how mainstream technology has embraced braille to all our advantages.

Stuart focused particularly on the ElBraille with Focus 5th edition display, the Braille Sense Polaris and the QBraille from Selvas Healthcare.

Braillecast Extra, Episode 1 – The Bumpy Road

In this first episode of Braillecast Extra, we re-acquaint ourselves with Megan Paul, winner of the 2016 Onkyo Braille Essay Writing Competition. We’re treated to a complete reading of her winning essay, following our interview with her on the very first episode of Braillecast.

Braillecast, Episode 18 – Brian MacDonald

Based in Boston Massachusetts since 1927, National Braille Press is a global leader in producing high quality, affordable braille materials and developing innovative technologies advancing braille literacy for blind and visually impaired children and adults everywhere. In addition to its first class braille transcription facility, producing everything from standardised tests to restaurant menus, NBP has a unique specialism in publishing original books by blind authors expressly for blind people, from cookery to technology. It also provides braille transcription and production services to like-minded organizations and, through the Centre for Braille Innovation, overseas the annual Touch of Genius Prize for Innovation.

In adapting to public health guidelines designed to minimise the spread of COVID-19, National Braille Press has found safe ways to produce braille for the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled (part of the Library of Congress), is offering free digital downloads for both children and adults until 31 August 2020, and continues to supply original titles explaining food delivery and preparation options from a blindness perspective. On Friday 15 May, the Braillists Foundation was privileged to host Brian MacDonald, NBP’s President, on its weekly Stay Safe: Stay Connected conference call, and participants had the opportunity to ask questions about how more high quality braille is finding its way into the hands of more readers throughout these challenging times. We’re pleased to present a recording of that session on this episode of Braillecast, with sincere thanks to Brian and all of the contributors for their permission.

To contact Brian, email [email protected]. If you’re an aspiring author and would like National Braille Press to consider publishing your work, email [email protected] or view the Frequently Asked Questions on the NBP website.

Links of Interest


Touch of Genius Prize Winners

Braillecast, Episode 17 – UEB Online

The Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children (RIDBC) is Australia’s largest non-government provider of services supporting thousands of adults, children and their families with hearing loss or vision impairment. Established by an Act of Parliament in Australia in 1860, it now operates via a number of Centres, promoting the rights of all persons with vision impairment to inclusion in education, employment and society on the same basis as sighted persons – leaving no-one behind. Of particular note for this podcast is the Renwick Centre which, in partnership with the Macquarie University, is Australia’s leading centre for the provision of high quality teaching and learning opportunities for professionals in the area of Special Education for students with hearing or vision impairment, research in these same areas, and related community service.

In September 2014, the Renwick Centre launched UEB Online, an interactive website offering free training in the Unified English Braille code. An Accessible version followed in September 2016 and, since then, the website has reached over 15,000 people in 197 countries. Most recently, in 2020, it received an Award for Innovative Practice on Inclusive Education and ICT from the Zero Project. It is being continuously updated with new features and new content and now boasts a 2-part Literacy course based on the UEB Australian Training Manual (in turn edited from the RNIB Braille Primer) and two purpose-written Mathematics courses (Introductory and Advanced), with a further Extension Mathematics course due to be launched by the end of 2020.

To find out more, we’re joined by three members of the team behind the UEB Online website:

Braillecast, Episode 16 – Where Have All The Braille Books Gone?

James Bowden is the Braille Technical Officer at RNIB, whose hard copy braille library is currently out of action due to COVID-19. We asked him what alternatives might be available.

RNIB Services



Braillecast, Episode 15 – Dean Martineau

For many in the blind community, Dean Martineau will be a household name. Prolific in the technology sphere, he’s perhaps best known for his Top Tech Tidbits newsletter, which has been published every Thursday for over ten years. In the past, he was also the voice behind the Sound Computing audio magazine, and delivered bespoke technology training under the brand of Top Dot Enterprises. Towards the end of 2018, he started a new initiative which uses a combination of audio tutorials, electronic braille files and the Orbit Reader 20 to deliver personalised, long-distance instruction in the braille code. We caught up with Dean to find out more about the project, as well as the person behind it, just after it launched. We didn’t manage to bring the interview to you at the time, but thought we’d bring it to you now.

To contact Dean, please email [email protected].

In other braille news:

  • The UKAAF AGM has been moved online
  • The ICEB General Assembly has been postponed to the week of 19 October
  • Visit for information related to Coronavirus for blind and partially sighted people