Dr Robert Englebretson on the International Phonetic Alphabet (Episode 25)

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Based in Houston, Texas, Dr Robert Englebretson is widely recognised for his contribution to braille research. In 2008, his work on updating the Braille International Phonetic Alphabet was published by the International Council on English Braille, and in 2019 the Braille Authority of North America made him a recipient of the Darleen Bogart Braille Excellence Award in recognition of this work.

More recently, in his role as Associate Professor of Linguistics at Rice University, he has begun to tackle misconceptions around how students learn to read and write braille from the perspective of the cognitive sciences, with a large research project due to be completed in 2024.

On Friday 3 June, we caught up with Robert as part of our series of Stay Safe: Stay Connected conference calls, and we started by asking him to describe the International Phonetic Alphabet.

Links of Interest

What has the Federation ever done for Us? with Everette Bacon (Extra 20)

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On Friday 28 August 2020, Everette Bacon joined a Braillists Foundation Stay Safe: Stay Connected call to talk about how the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) promotes braille literacy across the United States.

Everette is a member of the Board of Directors of NFB and President of the Utah State Division. He told us how he has personally pushed to make assistive technology more widely available and explained the kinds of resources and programmes that NFB provides for its members, including the work it has done to promote equality of distance learning for blind students during lockdown. We also heard about some of the most exciting projects NFB has supported through the Dr Jacob Bolotin Award.

Ed Rogers on Braille in Southern India (Episode 24)

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If you’ve been following Braillists Foundation events recently, you’ll be aware that we’ve been hosting a number of sessions thanks to a grant from the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust. But why is the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust interested in the Braillists Foundation?

In September 2017, Ed Rogers, Managing Director of Bristol Braille Technology CIC and himself a Fellow of WCMT, undertook a four-week trip around India to discover more about braille usage in that part of the world and to ask the question: What can we in Britain learn from the Indian experience with braille? The trip was well-documented at the time on the Braillists Forum, was presented in a paper at the CSUN conference in 2018, and subsequently reported back to WCMT.

Nearly four years on, the findings from that trip are continuing to shape the activities of the Braillists Foundation. We recently discovered an unpublished recording of Ed’s CSUN presentation in our archives, and are delighted to be able to present it on this episode of Braillecast, with apologies for the small amount of interference which can be heard from time to time.

Download Ed’s full report in PDF format.

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 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.

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.

Brian MacDonald (Episode 18)







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Based in Boston Massachusetts since 1927, National Braille Press is a global leader in producing high quality, affordable braille materials and developing innovative technologies advancing braille literacy for blind and visually impaired children and adults everywhere. In addition to its first class braille transcription facility, producing everything from standardised tests to restaurant menus, NBP has a unique specialism in publishing original books by blind authors expressly for blind people, from cookery to technology. It also provides braille transcription and production services to like-minded organizations and, through the Centre for Braille Innovation, overseas the annual Touch of Genius Prize for Innovation.

In adapting to public health guidelines designed to minimise the spread of COVID-19, National Braille Press has found safe ways to produce braille for the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled (part of the Library of Congress), is offering free digital downloads for both children and adults until 31 August 2020, and continues to supply original titles explaining food delivery and preparation options from a blindness perspective. On Friday 15 May, the Braillists Foundation was privileged to host Brian MacDonald, NBP’s President, on its weekly Stay Safe: Stay Connected conference call, and participants had the opportunity to ask questions about how more high quality braille is finding its way into the hands of more readers throughout these challenging times. We’re pleased to present a recording of that session on this episode of Braillecast, with sincere thanks to Brian and all of the contributors for their permission.

To contact Brian, email [email protected]. If you’re an aspiring author and would like National Braille Press to consider publishing your work, email [email protected] or view the Frequently Asked Questions on the NBP website.

Links of Interest

Books

Touch of Genius Prize Winners