Judy Dixon on Braille, More Braille, and the World’s Largest Collection of Slates and Styluses (Episode 23)

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Judy Dixon is something of a braille icon. She is Consumer Relations Officer at the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled, part of the Library of Congress in the United States; President of the International Council on English Braille; and has written a myriad of books for National Braille Press relating to braille and assistive technology. She also owns what is widely considered to be the largest collection of braille slates and styluses, containing over 280 unique designs.

On Friday 7 August 2020, the Braillists Foundation joined the dots on Judy’s incredible story as part of its series of Stay Safe: Stay Connected calls. This episode is an archive of that call.

An Introduction to the Abacus (Extra 9)

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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 Music (Extra 7)

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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)

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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)

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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.

Getting Around the Orbit Reader 20 (Extra 4)

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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.

Stuart Lawler (Extra 2)

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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.