The Most Inexpensive Braille Reading Setup in the World? Introducing Braille on the Amazon Fire Tablet (Extra 27)

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Over the years, blind people have benefitted from incredible enhancements in the fields of electronic braille and accessibility in general. In fact, it’s now possible to purchase a fully accessible Amazon Fire tablet for under £50 which, pared with an inexpensive braille display such as an Orbit Reader, and Amazons Kindle store which offers access to quite literally hundreds of thousands of digital books, makes for an incredibly cost-effective braille reading setup. But how does it work?

In this masterclass, presented by Ben Mustill-Rose, we provided a general overview of the Fire tablet, the basics of setting it up, how to connect a braille display and how to navigate the device using it. We then purchased a book from the Kindle store and walked through how to read it on a braille display.

This session was recorded on Tuesday 15 June 2021. For further information please visit the Braillists Foundation Media Page.

The Clearvision Project and the Typhlo and Tactus International Tactile Book Competition (Episode 27)

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Parents reading with their children: it’s an experience common to many households in virtually every country of the world. It’s a uniquely special experience for both the parent and the child, remembered for years to come, and often relived as children become parents themselves, and parents become grandparents.

For many blind people in the UK, it’s been facilitated for decades by the Clearvision project and its collection of over 14,000 books, each designed in such a way as to simultaneously enable blind and sighted people to read and enjoy them.

It’s been directed since 2013 by Alexandra Britten, and she joined me on the podcast to tell me more about the project and its involvement with a competition to find the world’s best tactile book.

Contact Clearvision

Email: [email protected]

Telephone: 0208 789 9575

Braille in the Kitchen (Extra 26)

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This week’s Masterclass has a more low tech flavour as we take a wander into the heart of the household. If you’ve ever wondered how to read braille recipes without ruining them or what to do when the label is too big for the jar, this session is for you.

Emma Williams led the session – teacher of Independent Living Skills at New College Worcester, and a familiar voice to many from our Clever Cooking events last year. She drew on a wealth of personal experience of using braille in the kitchen, as well as things which have worked well (and maybe some which haven’t) for her peers and her students.

This session was recorded on Tuesday 1 June 2021. For further information please visit the Braillists Foundation Media Page.

Braille Music: Let’s Tackle the Basics, Session 2 (Extra 25)

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In this session, we covered:

  • Rests: quaver, crotchet, minim, semibreve and dotted versions of the above
  • Clef signs: treble (G) and bass (F)
  • Octave signs and their use
  • Interval signs and their use

A mid-month clinic will take place on Monday 14 June at 8:00 PM in the UK and Ireland. The next teaching session will take place at the same time on Monday 28 June and cover hand signs, in accord, ties, slurs, articulation, fingering and maybe tongueing.

An Introduction to Braille on Android (Extra 24)

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If you’re a blind Android user, you’re bound to have come across Steve Nutt at Computer Room Services. He’s blind himself, been in the accessible smartphone business for over 20 years, and has a vast amount of knowledge and experience when it comes to using smartphones with braille displays.

We’re delighted that he joined us on Tuesday 18 May to present an introduction to using an Android device with a braille display. He covered which braille displays work with Android, how to connect them, how to navigate the operating system, other key concepts, and how to use braille input.

For further information please visit the Braillists Foundation Media Page.

New Braille Displays and Firmware Updates from HumanWare (Episode 26)

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You don’t have to have been in the blindness community very long to have come across HumanWare and their two flagship brands: Victor Reader and BrailleNote. Indeed, on the second episode of this podcast, we talked extensively about the BrailleNote Touch, which has since been succeeded by the BrailleNote Touch Plus.

BrailleNote is not the company’s only line of braille product, though. In 2003, thanks to an agreement with Baum, HumanWare launched its Brailliant line of refreshable braille displays. A braille input keyboard was added in 2011 and now, ten years on, the stakes have been raised still further with the launch of their most recent innovation, the Brailliant BI20X and BI40X.

The 20-cell and 40-cell displays have been shipping since mid-February, and a significant software update was released towards the start of May. Software version 1.1.1 also applies to the Mantis Q40 and Chameleon 20, which were released last summer and manufactured by HumanWare in partnership with the American Printing House for the Blind.

To discover more about this exciting new range of braille displays, and the new software update, we’re joined by HumanWare’s Andrew Flatres, Braille Product Manager; and Martin Roberts, Blindness Product Specialist for the UK.

Notes

To join the Brailliant BI X Users list, send a blank email to: [email protected]

If you have trouble subscribing, email [email protected]

To express your interest in beta testing new software from HumanWare, please fill out this Google form.

To contact HumanWare in the UK, call 01933 415 800 or email [email protected]

What is a BRF and Why would you Want one? (Extra 23)

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We’re starting to hear more and more about BRF files. They’re the default braille format on platforms such as RNIB Reading Services; they’re regularly used in the transcription industry to share braille versions of documents between producers; and notetaker users have used them to transfer files from one brand of braille device to another. But questions still prevail:

  • What, exactly, is a BRF?
  • Why would you use BRF files over more mainstream file formats?
  • What are the limitations of BRF?
  • How do you read BRF files?
  • How do you navigate through them?
  • How do you create them?

Matthew Horspool answered all these questions and more on Tuesday 4 May.

For further information please visit the Braillists Foundation Media Page.

Braille Music: Let’s Tackle the Basics! (Extra 22)

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Topics covered in this session:

  • Debunking some myths
  • Notes and note values – quavers, crotchets, minims, semibreves and dotted notes
  • Sharp, flat and natural signs
  • Time signatures and their placement – 2/4, 3/4, 4/4, common time, 6/8, 9/8
  • Key signatures and their placement – D major (2 sharps), A major (3 sharps), B major (5 sharps) and F sharp major (6 sharps)

Resources of interest:

Follow @stuartlawler and @roisindermody on Twitter

Join the next event on Monday 10 May 2021 at 8:00 PM in the UK and Ireland

Join the Braillists Foundation on Clubhouse

How to Choose your Braille Display (Extra 21)

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We were delighted to be joined by renowned braille display expert Jackie Brown. Jackie is a freelance writer, regular reviewer of braille technology, and author of “Braille ON Display” (published by Mosen Consulting), a comprehensive comparison of braile displays and guide to choosing the right one.

On Tuesday 20 April 2021, Jackie talked us through the process of choosing a braille display. She outlined which factors to consider and why, and the key features of the braille displays which are currently on the market. If you’ve ever wondered “Which braille display is the best one?” you are sure to have the answer at the end of this session.

For further information please visit the Braillists Foundation Media Page.

Dr Robert Englebretson on the International Phonetic Alphabet (Episode 25)

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Based in Houston, Texas, Dr Robert Englebretson is widely recognised for his contribution to braille research. In 2008, his work on updating the Braille International Phonetic Alphabet was published by the International Council on English Braille, and in 2019 the Braille Authority of North America made him a recipient of the Darleen Bogart Braille Excellence Award in recognition of this work.

More recently, in his role as Associate Professor of Linguistics at Rice University, he has begun to tackle misconceptions around how students learn to read and write braille from the perspective of the cognitive sciences, with a large research project due to be completed in 2024.

On Friday 3 June, we caught up with Robert as part of our series of Stay Safe: Stay Connected conference calls, and we started by asking him to describe the International Phonetic Alphabet.

Links of Interest