The Braille Shorthand Code (Extra 64)

“What’s wrong with grade 2?” In many cases, nothing. It strikes a good balance between compactness, readability and lack of ambiguity. However, in some cases, a code which is even more compact than grade 2 is extremely advantageous, especially when information needs to be written down at speed.

The Braille Shorthand Code was one attempt at creating such a system. Devised and used in the UK, it was last updated in 1959 and still has a loyal following.

In this event, we were joined by Dr Norman Waddington, a prolific user of the Braille Shorthand Code for many years. Norman explained the principals behind the Braille Shorthand Code and took us through some examples of some typical shorthand phrases. He also talked about the equipment which was traditionally used to produce braille shorthand and discussed who would benefit from using the Braille Shorthand Code.

To order The Braille Shorthand Code book from RNIB, quote archive number 513871.

A BRF version of The Braille Shorthand Code can be downloaded from the Shorthand Braille Codes page of the ICEB website.

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Tactile Diagrams at the Open University (Extra 62)

Getting tactile diagrams at University is often not as easy as it should be. However, the Open University has an excellent reputation for accessibility, and has developed robust processes for students to request diagrams and for those diagrams to be designed and produced.

This session was presented jointly by Jeff Bashton, former Visual Impairment Adviser at the Open University; and Andrew Whitehead, Graphics Media Developer within the OU’s Learner and Discovery Services. It briefly outlined what the Open University is, before explaining what gave rise to the tactile diagrams initiative and how it was developed.

Andrew illustrated how diagrams are prioritised, and described the tools and techniques he uses to design and produce them. We learnt how these techniques are applied to standard graphs and charts, as well as more complex images such as a cross-section of part of the brain!

If you are currently studying at University, or thinking of starting a University course soon, this session serves as a case study of how Universities can provide effective support in this area. We gave details of DSA funding models at the end of the presentation.

If you are interested in tactile diagrams in general, this session offered valuable insights into the tools and techniques available and the reasons for choosing them.

Decision Tree: Deciding if a Tactile Diagram is Necessary

  1. Start
  2. Is the information a repeat of the facts?
    Yes:
    go to 5.
    No: go to 3.
  3. Would the information be more meaningful in text form?
    Yes:
    go to 6.
    No: go to 4.
    Return to 2.
  4. Does the graphic require the reader to use visual discrimination or visual perception?
    Yes:
    go to 7.
    No: go to 8.
    Return to 3.
  5. Do not produce graphic.
    Return to 2.
  6. Create a figure description. Do not produce a graphic.
    Return to 3.
  7. Modify the graphic.
    Return to 4.
  8. Is the actual object unavailable, too small, too large, or too dangerous to examine by touch and perceived details?
    Yes:
    go to 11.
    No: go to 9.
    Return to 4.
  9. Does the reader need the information from a map, figure or graph to complete an assessment/task or to participate in discussions and/or answer questions?
    Yes:
    go to 11.
    No: go to 10.
    Return to 8.
  10. Do not produce graphic.
    Return to 9.
  11. Produce graphic.
    Return to 8.
    Return to 9.

Tactile Diagram Transcribers

Sources of Tactile Diagrams

Sources of Swell Paper and Heat Fusers

Other Links of Interest

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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 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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What Happened at ICEB? (Episode 39)

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.

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