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.

Leisure Reading with Refreshable Braille, Part 2 (Extra 34)

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We were delighted to have been joined by Sean Randall for the second in a two-part series. Sean is something of a computing and IT mastermind and now works at New College Worcester, training many of their students in the use of assistive technology including screen readers and braille displays.

This session covered sources of reading material that are more mainstream in nature, including apps or specialist software used to read. These included:

  • Amazon Kindle
  • Local libraries
  • Smaller publishers (e.g. Smashwords

This session was recorded on Tuesday 23 November 2021. For further information please visit the Braillists Foundation Media Page.

Focus Braille Displays, ElBraille and JAWS 2022 (Episode 36)

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Freedom Scientific is perhaps best known for its popular JAWS screen reader, but it also manufactures the Focus line of refreshable braille displays. The first generation of these well-known units was released in the early 2000s, and now the fifth generation is available in 14, 40 and 80-cell configurations, with the 40-cell version being an integral part of the ElBraille from Elita Group. To tell us more, I’m joined by Ron Miller, Blindness Hardware Product Specialist at Vispero.

UK Pricing

All products available from Sight and Sound Technology Ltd and all prices given ex VAT.Focus 14 £1275 Focus 40 £2950 Focus 80 £7850 ElBraille 40 £1535 with Intel M3 or £1825 with Intel I5

Links

The BrailleSense 6 (Episode 35)

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For at least the past 30 years, blind people have been well-served by notetakers: electronic, computer-like devices with a Perkins-style keyboard and speech and braille output. At their most basic level, they’ve functioned as an electronic brailler for composing documents and, of course, taking notes, but they’ve also included functionality such as a calculator, address list, scheduler and, latterly, internet connectivity. Over the past few years, there’s been a steady shift towards vastly increasing the capabilities of these devices, with many moving towards either Windows or Android.

The latest of this newer style of notetaker is the BrailleSense 6 from Selvis Healthcare (formerly Hims). It measures 9.65×5.67×0.87 inches, weighs 1.58 lbs (2.3 lbs with case), and is equipped with a 4590 mAh user-replaceable battery, wi-fi up to 802.11AC, Bluetooth 5.1, GPS and compass, USB C with display port functionality, full-size SD card slot, 13 MP rear camera, microphone and stereo speakers. It’s also just received its first software update.

Stuart Lawler is Head of Digital Content at Sight and Sound Technology Ltd, and Business Development Manager at Sight and Sound Ireland, and he joined me to tell us more about this update and the BrailleSense as a whole.

The BrailleSense 6 retails for £4395 excluding VAT.

Useful Links

Leisure Reading with Refreshable Braille, Part 1 (Extra 33)

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We were delighted to have been joined by Sean Randall for the first in a two-part series. Sean is something of a computing and IT mastermind and now works at New College Worcester, training many of their students in the use of assistive technology including screen readers and braille displays.

This session primarily discuss the various braille devices available to consumers. He then provided an overview of libraries and sources of materials specifically for blind people, including:

  • RNIB: reading Services, Bookshare and NTNM
  • The Seeing Ear National Accessible Library
  • Bibles for the Blind

This session was recorded on Tuesday 9 November 2021. For further information please visit the Braillists Foundation Media Page.

Braille in Spain and Translating for the Spanish Foreign Ministry with María García Garmendia (Episode 34)

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George Bernard Shaw, in his play Pygmalion, wrote that “the rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain.” That line has its roots in spoken language, though of course in English rather than Spanish! But what about written language?

We quite often talk about braille being useful as a tool when learning languages, but María García Garmendia of Madrid, Spain has taken things to the next level by qualifying as an official translator for the Spanish Foreign Ministry. As well as professionally translating to and from Italian and Portuguese, she’s also a fluent speaker of English, German, French and Russian.

She’s been blind effectively since birth due to Retinopathy of Prematurity, learnt braille from the age of three and, in addition to her translation work, she has a part-time job as a lawyer in one of Spain’s principal banks.

In this episode of Braillecast, we hear more about her legal and translation work, the availability of braille and braille technology in Spain, and the Spanish braille code. We also discuss her thoughts about grade 2 braille, scenarios in which braille is especially useful, and braille education.

Links

Kawal Gucukoglu on Being a Braille Transcriber and What Braille Means to Her (Episode 33)

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Transcription, for anyone who doesn’t already know, is the process of taking content in one format and converting it into another. In this case, print is being converted into braille, a process ubiquitous in the production of braille books, magazines, bills, bank statements, legal documents and much more. Humans have been at the heart of this process since its inception and, in spite of numerous technological advances, they remain so today.

Kawal Gucukoglu, herself blind since birth, was a braille transcriber at RNIB for over 23 years, and in this episode of Braillecast, she shares some of the highs and lows of this part of her career, as well as what braille means to her more generally. We discussed the change to Unified English Braille, the evolving role of technology, the division of labour within a large organisation, and unique opportunities afforded to her through her braille-related work.

Resources

Improving Reading Speed and Building Braille Mastery with Kit Aronoff (Episode 32)

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It’s a question we get asked all the time – how can I read braille more quickly? To answer it, we were delighted to be joined on Tuesday 19 October by Kit Aronoff of Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and founder of Main Line Accessibility Consulting. Kit has a background in elementary education and, using principals of teaching literacy to emerging readers and articles from the National Federation of the Blind, she has developed a series of strategies which are sure to benefit even the most competent of braillists.

Our Chairman Dave Williams led the discussion, and he started by asking Kit to describe her braille learning journey.

Resources

  • Braille Together Mingle is organised by the American Council of the Blind. For more information, email [email protected]

Braille: Connecting the Dots in 2021 (Episode 31)







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Perhaps you’re thinking about learning braille, but don’t know whether it’s worth it. Maybe you learnt braille as a child, but haven’t used it since. You might know braille and want to use it in your daily life, but can’t work out where it will fit. Or you could be bamboozled by braille technology, gadgets and gizmos.

A panel of passionate braillists met in front of a live audience on Tuesday 12 October 2021 to celebrate National Braille Week. They explored how to overcome common obstacles faced by people who could benefit from reading by touch, sharing a diverse range of perspectives from braille learners to braille experts, technology enthusiasts to people who just need to get on at home or in the workplace. The audience also had the opportunity to ask questions and contribute their own tips and suggestions.

Credits

Host
Dave Williams
Panellist
Claire Amoroso
Panellist
Darren Paskell
Panellist
Laurent Cadet de Fontenay
Moderator
Ben Mustill-Rose
Producer
Matthew Horspool

Resources Mentioned in this Episode

An Introduction to Computer Braille (Extra 32)







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What is computer braille? Are there different flavours? What are all the signs? Why would you want to use it? Is it still relevant now that we have UEB?

The latest occasional Masterclass from RNIB’s braille expert James Bowden answered all of these questions and more.

This session was recorded on Tuesday 21 September 2021. For further information please visit the Braillists Foundation Media Page.