An Introduction to Grade 3 (Extra 30)

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Most of us know about grade 2, of course, with its 180 contractions designed to make braille quicker to read and write and occupy less space.

Grade 3 extends this concept still further with over 300 additional contractions, rules to allow vowells to be omitted, and provisions for reducing spaces and new lines. Whilst it’s not an officially recognised code, it has a loyal following amongst long-time braillists, who have used it very successfully to take shorthand notes or transcribe passages of text for reading aloud. It’s especially useful in conjunction with a hand frame or slate and stylus.

James Bowden led a session exploring this code in more detail on Tuesday 20 July. Whilst he wasn’t able to cover all of the 300+ contractions in an hour, he did explain the concepts used to form them, introduce some of the most useful ones and the rules which govern their use, and signposted to resources with more information.

For further information please visit the Braillists Foundation Media Page.

JAWS and Braille: A Closer Look (Extra 29)

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In Using Braille on Windows, we introduced you to the basics of making a braille display work with various screen readers. In this session, we took this to the next level in the first of an occasional series of Masterclasses looking at the braille settings of a particular screen reader.

This time it was JAWS. There are lots of settings and we weren’t able to cover all of them in an hour, so instead we reviewed some of the most common questions we’re asked, found the settings that relate to them, and explained what they do.

We covered:

  • Adding and selecting your braille display
  • Choosing your braille code and grade
  • Status cells and their use in structured mode
  • Reversing panning buttons and panning by paragraph
  • Using JAWS Braille In ™

This session was recorded on Tuesday 6 July 2021. For further information please visit the Braillists Foundation Media Page.

Braille Music: Let’s Tackle the Basics, Session 3 (Extra 28)

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After a recap of octave signs and intervals, this session covered:

  • Word signs
  • Ties and slurs
  • Phrase marks

You can follow Stuart on Twittre (@stuartlawler)

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.

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.

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.