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.

Getting the Braille you Need in Work or Education (Extra 17)

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This session covered how to obtain braille through the Access To Work and Disabled Students Allowance schemes. We talked about how to advocate for the braille you need and what options you have. We also looked at advocating for braille textbooks and braille signage in work or education.

This session was recorded on Tuesday 9 March 2021. For further information please visit the Braillists Foundation Media Page.

An Introduction to Unified English Braille (Extra 10)







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Led by James Bowden, Braille Technical Officer at RNIB, this session answered questions such as: How does UEB differ from Standard English Braille? Where can you learn about the changes? What tips and tricks are there for switching to UEB?

This session was recorded on Tuesday 19 January 2021. 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.

The Orbit Reader (Extra 3)







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This is an overview of the Orbit Reader 20, held as part of a Stay Safe: Stay Connected call on Monday 27 July 2020.

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.