We know about braille in the UK, of course, and we regularly hear about braille in other developed English-speaking countries – the US, Australia, New Zealand and so on. But there are many other countries in the world about which we hear much less. How is braille taught? How is it produced? How easy is it to obtain? What braille technology is in use?
On Tuesday 4 January, to mark World Braille Day, we explored these issues in detail with three panellists:
Adrijana Prokopenko is a teacher of English and English braille in a school for the blind in Macedonia.
Yanan Yu from China has a Master’s degree in Disability Studies and is currently an intern at Bristol Braille Technology. Prior to this, she worked for a year as an Editor at China Braille Press.
Christo de Klerk is a founding member of Braille SA, the first President of the South African Braille Authority and the Immediate Past President of the International Council on English Braille. He is a former student of the Pioneer School for the Visually Impaired (formerly the School for the Blind in Worcester), where he later returned as a staff member, teaching law and braille and establishing computerised braille production. He qualified in law and practiced as a lawyer before retraining as a computer programmer, and has developed braille tables for ten South African languages in Duxbury, eight in Liblouis, and one for Afrikaans for the Embraille iOS app. His last job before retirement was as an IT Specialist in one of South Africa’s banks.
In Using Braille on Windows, we introduced you to the basics of making a braille display work with various screen readers. In this session, we took this to the next level in the first of an occasional series of Masterclasses looking at the braille settings of a particular screen reader.
This time it was JAWS. There are lots of settings and we weren’t able to cover all of them in an hour, so instead we reviewed some of the most common questions we’re asked, found the settings that relate to them, and explained what they do.
Adding and selecting your braille display
Choosing your braille code and grade
Status cells and their use in structured mode
Reversing panning buttons and panning by paragraph
This week’s Masterclass has a more low tech flavour as we take a wander into the heart of the household. If you’ve ever wondered how to read braille recipes without ruining them or what to do when the label is too big for the jar, this session is for you.
Emma Williams led the session – teacher of Independent Living Skills at New College Worcester, and a familiar voice to many from our Clever Cooking events last year. She drew on a wealth of personal experience of using braille in the kitchen, as well as things which have worked well (and maybe some which haven’t) for her peers and her students.
If you’re a blind Android user, you’re bound to have come across Steve Nutt at Computer Room Services. He’s blind himself, been in the accessible smartphone business for over 20 years, and has a vast amount of knowledge and experience when it comes to using smartphones with braille displays.
We’re delighted that he joined us on Tuesday 18 May to present an introduction to using an Android device with a braille display. He covered which braille displays work with Android, how to connect them, how to navigate the operating system, other key concepts, and how to use braille input.