Index Braille (Episode 20)

Index Braille is synonymous the world over with braille embossers. Founded by Bjorn Lofstedt and Torvald Lundqvist as Polar Print Production in Sweden in 1979, its first incarnation was as a university project to develop a braille typewriter with copy function. The company took shape in 1982 and, by 1984, a small batch of Index Computer Braille Printers (known as “Index 3.7” embossers after the firmware version) were manufactured in Bjorn’s garage. The current premises were obtained in 1985, financed by distributing assistive technology around Sweden. This distribution arm continued as Polar Print Production, and Index Braille became its own brand in the late 80s with the introduction of the Index Blue Bar, which took tractor fed paper. The Everest, for cut sheet paper, followed in 1992, then came the version 2 platform (Basic and Everest) in 1995, the 4X4 Pro for booklet printing in 1998, the version 3 platform with USB and network connectivity in 2002-4, the 4Waves Pro high speed production embosser in 2005, the version 4 platform with embedded translation and high speed cut sheet production in 2011, and the version 5 platform with wifi printing and printing directly from USB memory stick in 2016.

We caught up with Bjorn to find out more about Index Braille, its embosser line and its new annual Donation Programme, drawn on World Braille Day each year.

An Introduction to the Abacus (Extra 9)

What is an Abacus and why would you use one? In this session, led by James Bowden, participants learnt about the various features of the Abacus and why it is ideal for use as a blind person.

The session covered:

  • Physical description and orientation
  • The beads and their meaning
  • Setting numbers
  • Basic addition
  • Overflows and carries

If you have an Abacus, you might find it helpful to have it with you so that you can follow along.

This session was recorded on Tuesday 8 December 2020. For further information please visit the Braillists Foundation Media Page.

An Introduction to Braille Labelling (Extra 8)

This event introduced participants to the various types of braille labels available and how to create their own labels using a range of materials.

The session covered using a slate and stylus, a Perkins brailler and a braille labeller to produce labels, as well as tips for labelling various products around the home. It also took a look at writing greetings cards in braille.

This session was recorded on Tuesday 1 December 2020. For further information please visit the Braillists Foundation Media Page.

An Introduction to Braille Music (Extra 7)

This session was a practical introduction to braille music. We covered basic music notation and where to access braille music. This session was led by James Bowden, Braille Technical Officer at RNIB.

This session was recorded on Tuesday 24 November 2020. For further information please visit the Braillists Foundation Media Page.

Using Braille for Language Learning (Extra 6)

This session introduced participants to the many ways of using braille when learning a language. Knowledge of English braille would be helpful when listening, but is not essential.

We took a look at using braille in conjunction with various language learning apps, where to learn other language codes and accessing books in other languages. We also heard from blind people who have used braille when traveling and how this has helped them. The session was led by Holly Scott-Gardner.

This session was recorded on Tuesday 17 November 2020. For further information please visit the Braillists Foundation Media Page.

An Introduction to the Slate and Stylus (Extra 5)

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.

Letter From Santa and the Braille Challenge Skill (Episode 19)

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 Accessibility.net, inc.

Getting Around the Orbit Reader 20 (Extra 4)

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.

The Orbit Reader (Extra 3)

This is an overview of the Orbit Reader 20, held as part of a Stay Safe: Stay Connected call on Monday 27 July 2020.

Stuart Lawler (Extra 2)

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.