CSUN 2023 (Episode 48)

Dave Williams, Chairman of the Braillists Foundation, and Ed Rogers from Bristol Braille Technology discuss the braille products to emerge from this year’s event.

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Programming for the Canute Console (Extra 56)

There was a lot to cram into the last of our computer science-themed classes. We started with a quick refresher about what we’ve covered so far before taking a deep dive into what it takes to write software and build hardware with a particular focus on the accessibility elements of the process.

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Introducing Git (Extra 50)

According to Wikipedia, Git is a distributed version control system that tracks changes in any set of computer files, usually used for coordinating work among programmers collaboratively developing source code during software development. Luckily for us it’s far more interesting than it sounds on paper as it was the topic of the third in our series of computer science masterclasses.

We started off by cutting through some of the technobabble typically associated with tools such as this and then got hands on with some simple examples using the popular Liblouis project. We built on our Linux skills from the previous class along the way and even did a little bit of programming before ending the session with questions.

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Introducing Linux (Extra 48)

Linux: it powers everything from laptops to toasters, braille displays to coasters. You may have heard of the world’s most popular operating system if you follow technology related news, but what is it and how do you get started exactly?

In the second of our computer science themed Masterclasses, we explored how to get started using Linux with technologies that you’ll already be familiar with. We started by getting access to a test system to experiment with, then introduced everyone to a few basic commands that allowed us to perform some basic tasks.

For further information please visit the Braillists Foundation Media Page.

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Using Braille Displays with Phones and Tablets (Episode 45)

The Braillists Foundation recently held its first face-to-face event since the Coronavirus pandemic. In this episode, we catch up with some of the people who attended, and we also hear recordings of the three presentations which took place:

  • Reading multilingual text using an iPhone, the Kindle app and a Focus 14
  • Text entry with an iPhone and a Brailliant BI40X
  • Reading books with an iPhone, the Kindle app and an Orbit Reader 20
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An Evening With George Bell (Episode 44)

George Bell has been at the helm of Techno-Vision Systems for at least 35 years. In that time, he has brought many blindness products to the UK market, repaired numerous machines which would have otherwise been condemned, and provided countless hours of technical support. He is particularly well-known for his involvement with the Duxbury Braille Translator, not only as UK sales and support but also through his tireless oversight of the documentation. He also enjoyed a very fruitful relationship with Dancing Dots, and imported many of their products including the Goodfeel braille music translator.

As we approach the end of George’s long and established career, we thought it would be fitting to spend some time in conversation with him, picking out the highlights of the past three and a half decades and thinking about what the future might look like.

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Braille in the Technology Industry (Episode 43)

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.

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What Happened at CSUN? (Episode 38)

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.

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

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

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

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.

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