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.

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.

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.

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.

Using Braille on the Internet (Extra 31)







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Dave Williams, Chairman of the Braillists, explored how to use braille displays with various combinations of screen reader and web browser, unpicked some of the jargon that appears on the display, and explained how to navigate without a QWERTY keyboard or touch screen.

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

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.