The Most Inexpensive Braille Reading Setup in the World? Introducing Braille on the Amazon Fire Tablet (Extra 27)

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Over the years, blind people have benefitted from incredible enhancements in the fields of electronic braille and accessibility in general. In fact, it’s now possible to purchase a fully accessible Amazon Fire tablet for under £50 which, pared with an inexpensive braille display such as an Orbit Reader, and Amazons Kindle store which offers access to quite literally hundreds of thousands of digital books, makes for an incredibly cost-effective braille reading setup. But how does it work?

In this masterclass, presented by Ben Mustill-Rose, we provided a general overview of the Fire tablet, the basics of setting it up, how to connect a braille display and how to navigate the device using it. We then purchased a book from the Kindle store and walked through how to read it on a braille display.

This session was recorded on Tuesday 15 June 2021. For further information please visit the Braillists Foundation Media Page.

Braille in the Kitchen (Extra 26)

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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.

This session was recorded on Tuesday 1 June 2021. For further information please visit the Braillists Foundation Media Page.

An Introduction to Braille on Android (Extra 24)

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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.

For further information please visit the Braillists Foundation Media Page.

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.

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.

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.

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