Where Have All The Braille Books Gone? (Episode 16)

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James Bowden is the Braille Technical Officer at RNIB, whose hard copy braille library is currently out of action due to COVID-19. We asked him what alternatives might be available.

RNIB Services

Libraries

Software

Dean Martineau (Episode 15)

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For many in the blind community, Dean Martineau will be a household name. Prolific in the technology sphere, he’s perhaps best known for his Top Tech Tidbits newsletter, which has been published every Thursday for over ten years. In the past, he was also the voice behind the Sound Computing audio magazine, and delivered bespoke technology training under the brand of Top Dot Enterprises. Towards the end of 2018, he started a new initiative which uses a combination of audio tutorials, electronic braille files and the Orbit Reader 20 to deliver personalised, long-distance instruction in the braille code. We caught up with Dean to find out more about the project, as well as the person behind it, just after it launched. We didn’t manage to bring the interview to you at the time, but thought we’d bring it to you now.


To contact Dean, please email [email protected].

In other braille news:

  • The UKAAF AGM has been moved online
  • The ICEB General Assembly has been postponed to the week of 19 October
  • Visit www.braillists.org/staysafe for information related to Coronavirus for blind and partially sighted people

BrailleSense, ElBraille and Canute (Episode 13)

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This episode features a couple of interviews that we recorded at the recent Sight Village South East exhibition. We also hear one person’s perspective on the ElBraille.

  • Jenny Axler, Technical Support Manager at Hims and Stuart Lawler, Manager of Sight & Sound Ireland, join us to discuss the BrailleSense Polaris and Polaris Mini, QBraille XL, and the fifth generation Focus line of braille displays from Freedom Scientific.
  • Sean Randall from New College Worcester was loaned an ElBraille in 2017, to be tested by himself and his students. His thoughts were captured in this interview which, in spite of being a few years old and based on an older model of the product, is still broadly relevant. For a snapshot of ElBraille as it was in 2017, listen to episode 141 of the FSCast podcast, or for a demonstration of the 5th generation version, listen to episode 16 of the Sight & Sound Technology Podcast.
  • Finally, Liam Smyth from Bristol Braille Technology CIC brings us the exciting news that Canute 360 is now available for purchase from Techno-Vision Systems for £1895. We also find out a bit more about the user interface and hear what it sounds like when it refreshes.

Chapter markers have been inserted throughout this episode to aid navigation.

Braille Art Competition (Episode 12)

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4 January is Louis Braille’s birthday (he would have been 211 this year if he was still alive). It’s no coincidence, then, that, since 2019, the United Nations has formally celebrated this date as “World Braille Day”, an international day of observance “… to raise awareness of the importance of Braille as a means of communication in the full realization of the human rights for blind and partially sighted people.” In spite of its recency, it already feels firmly established in the calendars of the sight loss industry, attracting a great deal of online publicity this year. Perhaps that’s because, for many, the significance of Louis Braille’s birthday predates the UN’s intervention: organisations in the United States of America have observed National Braille Literacy MOnth in January since at least 2011, and Royal Blind’s National Braille Week in the UK was held in the week containing 4 January until 2013. (It’s now held in the second week in October to coincide with the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness’s “World Sight Day”, held on the second Thursday in October.)

One of the more creative announcements to spring from this year’s World Braille Day came from VICTA, a national charity in the UK that provides support to blind and partially sighted children and young adults (aged 29 or under) and their families. They’ve launched their first ever competition to challenge children and young people to push the boundaries of their creativity and use the braille system to produce a piece of art. Blind and partially sighted 0-10-year-olds are invited to present a creative way of displaying their name in braille using different objects, whilst 11-29-year-olds should find a way to use braille to create a picture. £50 and £25 Amazon vouchars are up for grabs respectively for the winners and the runners up in each category, and chosen finalists will be displayed in a booklet and an online gallery. Entries close at 5:00 PM on 31 January 2020.

We spoke with Luke Wakefield, Head of Activities & Strategic Programmes at VICTA, about the competition and the charity as a whole.

Advent Of Change (Episode 11)

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We hear from Kristina Salceanu, founder of Advent Of Change about their braille advant calendar. It’s available for £29.95 online via both Advent of Change and John Lewis and it’s also available at John Lewis’s Oxford Street store.

Braille News Roundup (Episode 10)

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We’re back! And we start our new series with an overview of the braille landscape, including:

Holly Scott-Gardner (Episode 9)

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In this episode, we talk with Holly Scott-Gardner about studying Spanish, living abroad and the impact of braille on these pursuits.

we also discuss:

ICEB Mid-Term Executive Meeting (Episode 8)

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Where do new Braille signs come from? Who decides? Do we need a new Braille file format?

We hear from James Bowden, a highly regarded Braille Specialist with RNIB. James is a member of the UK Association for Accessible Formats (UKAAF) and represents the UK on the International Councel on English Braille (ICEB), which met at ChildVision”>, the National Education Centre for Blind Children in Ireland, this April for its mid-term executive meeting. We discuss the new sign for a tick, requirements for reading electronic braille files and the 2018 Braille Essay Writing Contest.

CSUN Special (Episode 7)

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California State University of Northridge held their 33rd International Conference on Technology and Disability in San Diego this March. BrailleCast made a whistle stop tour of the exhibit hall to discover what new braille and tactile reading products could be making waves in 2018.

We’ll hear about the tactile graphics Display that enabled blind students to touch a total solar eclipse, we learn about a metric braille caliper, we hear about the latest low cost braille tech from India, and we get hands on with a paperless braille slate from South Korea.

We’ll also learn about Spanish product Braibook, hear about improvements to the Mountbatten Brailler, discover a new 20 cell braille notetaker from HIMS, play Braille music with HandyTech and, following mixed response to the Dot Watch, what’s next for the Dot Corporation?

In Other Braille News from CSUN:

  • VFO has refreshed their Focus line of refreshible braille displays.
  • Brailliant BI14 from Humanware is now released.

Scott Davert (Episode 6)

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In this episode we hear from Scott Davert from the US. Scott is a braille advocate and deafblind specialist and sits on the Disability Advisory Committee of the Federal Communications Commission. As well as this, he actively promotes braille in the Applevis community, and has recently written a series of braille display reviews which have been published by Accessworld from the American Foundation for the Blind. In the UK, his expertise are shared through the RNIB Connect website. The conversation covers a wide range of braille issues including the state of braille, quality control issues faced by blind students, and a round-up of some recent braille products.

Links of Interest