Festive Fun: More Christmas Pictures with a Perkins Brailler (Extra 47)

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In our last Masterclass before the Christmas break, we’re delighted that Kim Charlson, Executive Director of the Perkins Library (part of Perkins School for the Blind), was able to join us again. 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 Christmas-themed drawings 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 festive pictures made entirely of braille dots!

And don’t worry: if you heard Kim’s excellent session last year, this year’s pictures are brand new!

Braille in the Technology Industry (Episode 43)

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On Tuesday 15 November 2022, we hosted an incredibly informative panel discussion around writing software and working in the technology industry in general when using a braille display.

We heard from people in a variety of different IT rolls about the techniques they use, when they use braille and when they use speech, and left plenty of time for audience questions.

Braille for Beginners On-Demand (Episode 41)

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Find out all about the Braillists Foundation’s new Braille for Beginners On-Demand programme in this archive of the launch event which took place on Monday 10 October 2022.

How Perkins Braillers are Made (Episode 40)

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In April 2022, our Chairman, Dave Williams, travelled to Boston Massachusetts in the US to run the Boston Marathon. While he was there, he took a trip to the Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown and recorded a tour of the facility where Perkins Braillers are manufactured.

What Happened at ICEB? (Episode 39)

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The International Council on English Braille held its Mid-Term Executive Committee Meeting from 5-9 June 2022. As well as transacting various items of business, there were lively discussions around the history of braille, braille music, braille technology and the braille code itself.

In this episode of Braillecast, we were joined by ICEB President Judy Dixon to discover the highlights of the Mid-Term and look ahead to how the discussions that took place will influence the future of braille around the world.

Getting to Know RNIB Reading Services (Extra 45)

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Connor Scott-Gardner is an avid reader, and on Tuesday 6 September 2022 he demonstrated how to download books from RNIB Reading Services, transfer them to a braille display and read them. He also explained how Reading Services differs from other offerings from RNIB and elsewhere.

For further information please visit the Braillists Foundation Media Page.

Formatting Your Braille (Extra 43)

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It’s often said in the industry that garbage in = garbage out, but what does this mean in practice?

On 17 May 2022, our Chairman Dave Williams held a conversation with Kawal Gucukoglu, who worked for many years as a braille transcriber at RNIB. They discussed the principals of effective braille layout – headings, paragraphs, lists, tables and so on – and how to implement them in electronic file formats to achieve optimum quality.

What Happened at CSUN? (Episode 38)

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The annual CSUN Assistive Technology Conference took place in March in California, and there were lots of exciting braille and tactile graphics announcements.

We assembled a line-up of braille-using panellists who attended the conference who talked us through what was announced and gave their first impressions of the new products they saw.

Braille Around the World (Episode 37)

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We know about braille in the UK, of course, and we regularly hear about braille in other developed English-speaking countries – the US, Australia, New Zealand and so on. But there are many other countries in the world about which we hear much less. How is braille taught? How is it produced? How easy is it to obtain? What braille technology is in use?

On Tuesday 4 January, to mark World Braille Day, we explored these issues in detail with three panellists:

  • Adrijana Prokopenko is a teacher of English and English braille in a school for the blind in Macedonia.
  • Yanan Yu from China has a Master’s degree in Disability Studies and is currently an intern at Bristol Braille Technology. Prior to this, she worked for a year as an Editor at China Braille Press.
  • Christo de Klerk is a founding member of Braille SA, the first President of the South African Braille Authority and the Immediate Past President of the International Council on English Braille. He is a former student of the Pioneer School for the Visually Impaired (formerly the School for the Blind in Worcester), where he later returned as a staff member, teaching law and braille and establishing computerised braille production. He qualified in law and practiced as a lawyer before retraining as a computer programmer, and has developed braille tables for ten South African languages in Duxbury, eight in Liblouis, and one for Afrikaans for the Embraille iOS app. His last job before retirement was as an IT Specialist in one of South Africa’s banks.

Care and Usage of your Perkins Brailler (Extra 41)

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The Perkins Brailler has been a staple in the lives of braille users ever since the first one was manufactured in Watertown, Massachusetts in 1951. To this day, the Perkins is widely considered to be the most durable braille device on the market, with machines over 50 years old still going strong.

They are so popular, in fact, that it is easy to forget that we need to teach new braillists how to use them! Furthermore, even established braillists do not always know how to diagnose faults when they arise, or how to take the best care of their machines so as to minimise the risks of faults arising in the first place.

On 15 March, we were joined by Alan Thorpe of Eyecan, a certified Perkins Brailler Repair Centre. Alan took us on a tour of the Perkins Brailler, introducing us to the proper names of all of the parts! He explained how to insert paper and write braille, and described some common faults and how to overcome them. He also explained when a professional service or repair may be required and briefly explained the differences between the different models of Perkins Brailler available.

For further information please visit the Braillists Foundation Media Page.