Braille Technology in Everyday Life (Extra 42)

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In this session, Matthew Horspool explains how braille is still relevant in the 21st century and demonstrates how free and low-cost braille technology is significantly improving the independence and productivity of blind and partially sighted people of all ages. We paid particular attention to Braille Screen Input and the Orbit Reader, both of which are relatively recent additions to the braille technology landscape and are being used by thousands of people all over the world.

This session was presented by the Braillists Foundation on behalf of Visionary: Linking Local Sight Loss Charities on Tuesday 8 February 2022.

What Happened at CSUN? (Episode 38)

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The annual CSUN Assistive Technology Conference took place in March in California, and there were lots of exciting braille and tactile graphics announcements.

We assembled a line-up of braille-using panellists who attended the conference who talked us through what was announced and gave their first impressions of the new products they saw.

Braille Around the World (Episode 37)

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We know about braille in the UK, of course, and we regularly hear about braille in other developed English-speaking countries – the US, Australia, New Zealand and so on. But there are many other countries in the world about which we hear much less. How is braille taught? How is it produced? How easy is it to obtain? What braille technology is in use?

On Tuesday 4 January, to mark World Braille Day, we explored these issues in detail with three panellists:

  • Adrijana Prokopenko is a teacher of English and English braille in a school for the blind in Macedonia.
  • Yanan Yu from China has a Master’s degree in Disability Studies and is currently an intern at Bristol Braille Technology. Prior to this, she worked for a year as an Editor at China Braille Press.
  • Christo de Klerk is a founding member of Braille SA, the first President of the South African Braille Authority and the Immediate Past President of the International Council on English Braille. He is a former student of the Pioneer School for the Visually Impaired (formerly the School for the Blind in Worcester), where he later returned as a staff member, teaching law and braille and establishing computerised braille production. He qualified in law and practiced as a lawyer before retraining as a computer programmer, and has developed braille tables for ten South African languages in Duxbury, eight in Liblouis, and one for Afrikaans for the Embraille iOS app. His last job before retirement was as an IT Specialist in one of South Africa’s banks.

Care and Usage of your Perkins Brailler (Extra 41)

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The Perkins Brailler has been a staple in the lives of braille users ever since the first one was manufactured in Watertown, Massachusetts in 1951. To this day, the Perkins is widely considered to be the most durable braille device on the market, with machines over 50 years old still going strong.

They are so popular, in fact, that it is easy to forget that we need to teach new braillists how to use them! Furthermore, even established braillists do not always know how to diagnose faults when they arise, or how to take the best care of their machines so as to minimise the risks of faults arising in the first place.

On 15 March, we were joined by Alan Thorpe of Eyecan, a certified Perkins Brailler Repair Centre. Alan took us on a tour of the Perkins Brailler, introducing us to the proper names of all of the parts! He explained how to insert paper and write braille, and described some common faults and how to overcome them. He also explained when a professional service or repair may be required and briefly explained the differences between the different models of Perkins Brailler available.

For further information please visit the Braillists Foundation Media Page.

Braille on iOS, Part 3 (Extra 40)

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We were delighted to be joined by Scott Davert, one of the most well-known authorities on the use of iOS with a braille display, for the third and final part of his exploration of this winning combination. Scott is the Coordinator at the Technology, Research and Innovation Center, part of the Helen Keller National Center for DeafBlind Youths and Adults, and serves on the editorial team at AppleVis.

In this session, he explained how to re-assign braille display commands and demonstrated web browsing with a braille display in Safari.

This session was recorded on Tuesday 1 March 2022. For further information please visit the Braillists Foundation Media Page.

Braille on iOS, Part 2 (Extra 39)

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Following the first successful Masterclass, we were delighted to have been joined once again by Scott Davert, one of the most well-known authorities on the use of iOS with a braille display, to continue his exploration of this winning combination. Scott is the Coordinator at the Technology, Research and Innovation Center, part of the Helen Keller National Center for DeafBlind Youths and Adults, and serves on the editorial team at AppleVis.

In this Masterclass, he introduced some more advanced navigation commands, including using the rota, and then discussed and demonstrated text editing.

This session was recorded on Tuesday 15 February 2022. For further information please visit the Braillists Foundation Media Page.

Braille on iOS, Part 1 (Extra 38)

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Following our brief introduction to Braille on iOS last year, we’re delighted this year to have been joined by Scott Davert, one of the most well-known authorities on the topic, to explore this winning combination in more detail. Scott is the Coordinator at the Technology, Research and Innovation Center, part of the Helen Keller National Center for DeafBlind Youths and Adults, and serves on the editorial team at AppleVis.

In a series of three Masterclasses, he discussed and demonstrated how to make the most of using your iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch with a braille display, from basic exploration to text editing, web browsing and much more.

In the first Masterclass, he covered:

  • Supported braille displays and how to connect them
  • Braille settings in Voiceover
  • Exploring the home screen
  • Some useful braille display commands

This session was recorded on Tuesday 1 February 2022. For further information please visit the Braillists Foundation Media Page.

Choosing and Setting UP Your Embosser (Extra 37)

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In our first Masterclass of 2022, Matthew Horspool tackled the hows, whys and wherefores of braille embossers: choosing them, setting them up and making the most of them. The session covered:

  • The purpose and function of an embosser and why you might want one
  • Different types of embosser
  • Different types of paper
  • Connectivity options
  • The user interface
  • The relationship between embosser and computer
  • The role of translation software

This session was recorded on Tuesday 18 January 2022. For further information please visit the Braillists Foundation Media Page.

Drawing Stars with your Perkins (Extra 36)

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Happy Christmas! In this special episode, James Bowden talks us through drawing some stars. The instructions are provided in written form below:

Star 1

  • Line 1: ow sign (Dots 246); comma (dot 2)

Star 2

  • Line 1: o (dots 135; k (dots 13)

Star 3

  • Line 1: capital sign (dot 6); ar sign (dots 345); gh sign (dots 126); apostrophe (dot 3)
  • Line 2: dot 4; wh sign (dots 156); s (dots 234); a (dot 1)

Star 4

  • Line 1: space three times; letter sign or grade 1 indicator (dots 56); semicolon (dots 23)
  • Line 2: space three times; ar sign (dots 345); gh sign (dots 126)
  • Line 3: space twice; ar sign (dots 345); space twice; gh sign (dots 126)
  • Line 4: x (dots 1346) twice; space four times; x (dots 1346) twice
  • Line 5: space twice; wh sign (dots 156); space twice; s (dots 234)
  • Line 6: space four times; wh sign (dots 156); s (dots 234)
  • Line 7: space four times; dots 45; b (dots 12)

A Box

  • Line 1: p (dots 1234); c (dots 14); l (dots 123)
  • Line 1.5: l (dots 123); space; l (dots 123)
  • Line 2: c (dots 14) twice; a (dot 1)

Star 5

  • Line 1: space twice; capital sign (dot 6); i (dots 24); en sign (dots 26)
  • Line 1.5: space twice; comma (dot 2); space twice; comma (dot 2)
  • Line 2: dot 4; ed sign (dots 1245); space three times; dots 46; f (dots 124)
  • Line 2.5: space twice; semicolon (dots 23); dot 5; space; semicolon (dots 23)
  • Line 3: space twice; r (dots 1235); a (dot 1); e (dots 15); l (dots 123)

Drawing Pictures With Your Perkins (Extra 35)

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We were delighted to be joined by Kim Charlson, Executive Director of the Perkins Library (part of Perkins School for the Blind). Kim is author of the book “Drawing with your Perkins Brailler”, which includes step-by-step directions for creating 36 different drawings including shapes, animals and subjects with holiday and transportation themes.

In this session, she used a drawing of a Christmas tree to explain the concepts behind using braille cells to create pictures. Bring a Perkins and some paper and follow along and, by the end of the session, you will have your very own frilly Christmas tree made entirely of braille dots!

This session was recorded on Tuesday 7 December 2021. For further information please visit the Braillists Foundation Media Page.