Updates to our Website

As is becoming customary of late, we have taken the opportunity to continue to refine our website over the Easter holidays. Here are the highlights:

  • We have significantly streamlined the design of our Projects page, corrected errors and added new content.
  • Our Groups page has been similarly redesigned, so the overall structure of the website is much less complex and menus should be easier to navigate.
  • Our Partners and Sponsors page now reflects our grant from the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, alongside a number of other small changes.
  • There is no longer a technical error on our Forum page.
  • Our Newsletter Archive has been brought up-to-date.

In addition, a few months ago, we quietly added a search facility to the website which a few users have been testing for us. It seems to be working well on the whole, so we would like to take this opportunity to formally announce it.

Finally, we are making significant changes to our content database and hosting infrastructure behind the scenes which will make search results even more relevant, allow pages to load faster, and pave the way for exciting upgrades to our website in the not too distant future. Watch this space for more announcements soon!

In the meantime, although we don’t expect our changes under the hood to have an adverse impact on visitors, things do inevitably go wrong from time to time. If you do experience any problems, please write to us at [email protected] so we can put them right.

We hope you enjoy browsing our website and look forward to hearing your feedback.

Announcing Our New Braille Clinic

Taking place on the second and fourth Tuesday of every month at 7:30 PM

Have you read a sign in braille, but dont’ know what it means? Have you needed to write a sign in braille, but don’t know which dots to use? Are you struggling to tell one braille sign from another?

We’ll be able to help you with all these problems and more in our new Braille Clinic: an opportunity to talk to our in-house braille experts and have your braille questions answered.

Our first clinic takes place this coming Tuesday, 13 April, at 7:30 PM in the UK. Future clinics will take place on the second and fourth Tuesday of every month.

No registration is required, and the clinic is open to beginners and advanced braillists alike.

As well as the braille code itself, we also invite questions on braille equipment, technology, paper and other consumables, reading material and anything else related to braille. If we can’t answer your question straight away, we’ll try to find an expert who can follow up with you afterwards.

Our Braille Clinics will not be recorded, but if you can’t make the session and you have a particular question you’d like answering, you’re welcome to email it to [email protected] and we’ll forward it to the appropriate person.

To join us on Tuesday at 7:30 PM, use this link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88035088878?pwd=NHdkR2s1aDZsV1RCUmpQNWh3YWNaQT09
Meeting ID: 880 3508 8878
Passcode: 123456

Listening to Braillecast on your Smart Speaker

We’ve been making some changes under the hood to try to make it easier for people to listen to our Braillecast podcast on smart speakers, especially those powered by Amazon Alexa.

Unfortunately, we still haven’t found a perfect solution. However, as a temporary workaround, we have added some more keywords to our feed title so that it now reads: “Braillecast: Connecting the Dots for Braillists Everywhere”.

Smart speakers should have now registered this change, so if asking for Braillecast doesn’t work, try asking for “Braillecast Connecting the Dots” or other permutations of keywords from the feed title.

On Alexa devices, the following phrase seems to work the most consistently: “Alexa, play the podcast Braillecast, Connecting the Dots for Braillists Everywhere.”

We are continuing to work on a better long-term solution, but we hope this change makes our podcast more accessible in the meantime.

P.S. we’ve also received a message from HumanWare to say that they have fixed a known issue with our episodes not downloading properly on Victor Reader Streams. If you’re a Victor Reader Stream user and you’ve been having trouble with our podcast, please try again, and let us know at [email protected] if it still doesn’t work for you.

A New Chapter for Clever Cooking

Almost a year ago to the day, in the height of the first UK national lockdown, we launched our Clever Cooking group. A vibrant and enthusiastic community quickly emerged and, in spite of many changes, it’s still going strong today!

It’s now being facilitated independently by a group of Clever Cooking members, who are currently deciding when the sessions will take place and what topics will be covered. They are always on the lookout for new people to join the sessions, so if you’re handy in the kitchen or want to improve your culinary skills, please get in touch with them.

Their email address is [email protected]. Once they’ve heard from you, they can add you to their mailing list where they will announce the date of the next session once it’s been decided. If you provide your mobile number, they can also add you to their WhatsApp group.

We’re really pleased to see this community continue to flourish.

Happy cooking!

Text Transcripts Now Available

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been working with a local transcriber who’s been busy creating text transcripts of our Masterclasses. The first six – which took place before Christmas – are now available on our Media page:

  • Getting Around the Orbit Reader 20
  • An Introduction to the Slate and Stylus
  • Using Braille for Language Learning
  • An Introduction to Braille Music
  • An Introduction to Braille Labelling
  • An Introduction to the Abacus

A text transcript of our panel event for World Braille Day is also available.

These transcripts will be especially useful for DeafBlind individuals, but you might also appreciate them if you’d like to find a particular section of a Masterclass, English isn’t your first language, or simply if you find it easier to learn from text rather than audio. They are currently available in Microsoft Word format, but we’ll be adding more formats in the coming months.

If you have any feedback about these transcripts, we’d be delighted to hear from you. Please email [email protected]. The remaining Masterclasses in our “Braille for Academic and Career Development” series, which took place after Christmas, will be available soon.

And one more thing – the Media page is now completely up-to-date, so if you’re looking for a recording of, or handout from, any of our previous sessions, you can find them there.

Our Book Club Now Has an Advanced Group!

For some time now, we’ve been running our Book Club on a Thursday at 6:00 PM. The idea is that anyone who wants to improve their braille reading can come along, read a page or two of a book to the rest of the group, and get help from other fellow members when they get stuck.

The current book is “Kensuke’s Kingdom” by Michael Morpurgo, available in both grades 1 and 2 on the latest Orbit Reader SD card, and also available in hard copy via the RNIB library.

Numbers have been steadily increasing over time and, as such, we’re now able to divide people up according to reading speed – so quicker readers don’t feel held back, and more leisurely readers can keep reading at a pace that suits them. The two groups are called “Intermediate” and “Advanced” and, thanks to the magic of Breakout Rooms in Zoom, they both take place simultaneously using the same Meeting ID and join link.

When you come for the first time, you’ll be asked which group you’d like to join. If you’re not sure, you can always join one group and switch to the other one the following week if you think it would suit you better.

Everyone is made to feel extremely welcome, and there’s an opportunity for the two groups to meet together at the start and end of each session.

So whether you’ve given us a try before but didn’t get on with the format, or you’ve never heard of the Book Club before but think it sounds like something you’d enjoy, please consider joining us on Thursday at 6:00 PM GMT. Sessions last an hour and can be joined by computer, smartphone, tablet or telephone.

The Zoom Meeting ID is: 893 5322 0947
Join Link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89353220947

We look forward to seeing you!

33 Percent Discount on Perkins Brailler Servicing During the MOnth of February

Some of you may know Alan Thorpe, and his partner Sandra, from Zoom meetings. They are both guide dog users and owners of Eyecan, a small organisation that is here to help visually impaired people.

As part of their work, Eyecan service and repair Perkins Braillers. This normally costs £30. However, for the month of February, they are offering a specially discounted price of £20 to anyone who receives the Brailists newsletter. This offer is for the service of one Perkins per person.

To place your order, please ring Alan on 07961406739 or email [email protected], quoting “The Braillists offer of £20”. You will then be sent a personalised postage label.

Alan and Sandra look forward to hearing from you.

Have You Visited Our Website Recently?

The sustained downtime over Christmas allowed us to update several pages on our website and I thought I would take this opportunity to itemise the changes and, in so doing, draw some pages to your attention that you might not already know about:

We hope you enjoy browsing our website and very much look forward to welcoming you to a Braillists event soon.

A Statement from the UK Association for Accessible Formats

The UK Association for Accessible Formats (UKAAF) is saddened to learn of the recent death of one of its honorary members, Bill Poole.

Known to many of us, Bill served as Chair of the Braille Authority of the United Kingdom (BAUK) for many years prior to that organisation – with others – helping to form UKAAF. His commitment to the rightful place of blind and partially sighted people in society was tireless, along with his enormous contribution to BAUK, realising only too well the need to integrate braille and technology if braille was to have a secure future.

He was also active in his work on RNIB committees over five decades helping to influence its decision-making. In particular he was part of the National Federation team in the 1970s which fought successfully to increase the proportion of representative blind people on RNIB’s Executive Council.

There will be other ways in which UKAAF will remember Bill as a person and his work in due course.

Roger Firman, 18 January 2021