Sight Village Exhibitions

Thanks to support from Bristol Braille Technology, Braillists will be participating at the following Sight Village exhibitions this year:

  • Birmingham – 18th & 19th July
  • Manchester – 27th September
  • London – 7th & 8th November

We will be demonstrating and talking about some of the projects we are involved in and letting people know about our activities. The exhibitions are always fun and interesting events to be part of, producing much discussion and new connections.

We are looking for Braillists to help run the stands. If you’d like to volunteer please do get in touch and we’ll let you know further details. Even if you can spare just a few hours we would very much appreciate your support.

We will also endeavour to run our popular Braille and Beer get-togethers at the end of the first exhibition day at each event – a great way to meet and converse with fellow Braillists in the convivial atmosphere of a pleasant establishment.

Technology Day in Birmingham

Braillist Paul Sullivan attended an introduction to assistive technology in Birmingham, UK with fellow Braillists Stephanie Seargent and Dave Williams. They were also joined by Braillist and Braille technology developer Ed Rogers of Bristol Braille Technology. Here is Paul’s report on the day:

On Tuesday 28th February Ed Rogers and I travelled to Birmingham City University, where we rendezvoused with Stephanie Sergeant. We were there to take part in a Technology Day for the final year FdSc Rehabilitation Studies (Visual Impairment) students. Later we were joined by Dave Williams who stood in for Ed who had to return to Bristol in the afternoon. The event organiser, Kirsty Jackson, made us very welcome and kept us supplied with tea and coffee throughout the day.

A number of other organisations had been invited to participate, including Orcam, Ultra Cane, Synaptic, GiveVision, Sight and Sound and Optelec. We were based in three rooms which the students circulated round. Ed and Dave demonstrated the Canute MK10, while I showed the students a range of older Braille equipment, including a Braille slate and a Stainsby. Steph demonstrated a Braille Sense U2 mini, a Victor Reader Stream, and an iPhone. All bits of kit not on display by the other exhibitors. Dave and I also demonstrated our different electronic Braille displays, which the students seemed to find very interesting. Their assignment was to learn more about the technology on display, and find out the advantages and disadvantages of each device.

During the day we had in-depth, one-to-one conversations about Braille and Braille technology with around fifteen students. They all knew Braille and were really enthusiastic about its potential for enhancing the lives of visually impaired people. Having got your comments on the value of Braille via the forum, I was able to give the students specific examples of just how important it is for our independence, education, employment and social opportunities.

Stephanie took the student’s contact details and we will be writing to them individually to thank them for their interest. Some of them are already members of the Braillists and we will be inviting the others to join our community.

Prior to attending Paul had asked the Braillists’ forum for input on what Braille meant to them and insights into learning Braille, etc so they could pass on more views to the students. This inspired a lot of amazing and compassionate feedback – you can read all the responses on the forum thread here.

Newsletter and Forum subscriptions

Our newsletter now reaches more than 250 subscribers! We’re still small and would like to reach more of the community so if you know someone who would be interested do let them know. The easiest way is through the sign up form on our website.

We also run a friendly forum that discusses our projects and other Braille related news. By signing up you’ll be better informed of the latest happenings in Braille and have a voice in our online community. To get it directly in your inbox simply reply to this email, send an email to [email protected] or go to the web form. It’s still fairly low volume so you won’t get inundated but you can easily control how many emails you receive or unsubscribe at any time. Alternatively you can read it online through our website.

Please let us know of any problems signing up to the newsletter or forum. We’ve recently resolved an issue with CAPTCHA fields and screen-readers/braille devices on our Newsletter sign up form but can only do this if we’re aware of the problem. Just email [email protected].

We would like to wish you all a very merry Christmas, a happy New Year, and very much look forward to your input on more, exciting braille developments in 2017.

Funding Won!

Skipton Building Society has donated £500 to the Braillists to help promote our group’s growth as a pro-active force for promoting Braille use. It comes at a perfect time, with our renewed focus on projects, and it is great to have their support.

Calling Braillists in Worcestershire, West Midlands and Beyond

New College Worcester, Royal National College for the Blind in Hereford and Queen Alexandra College in Birmingham are just some examples of organisations doing great work to teach and produce braille to high standards. However, we are sure there are many others in the same region with an equally strong interest in the value of braille. Through the Braillists, An opportunity exists to share expertise, develop skills and grow relationships between braille enthusiasts.

If you would like to connect with Braillists in Worcestershire, the West Midlands and surrounding areas, please contact Dave Williams. Email [email protected] or call 03335552084 (calls charged at your local rate and normally included in bundled minutes).

Calvin Cheung

We’ve had a great proposal from a university project on the Braillists forum. Calvin is looking to test his tactile graphing and images concept in a Braillists group over the next couple of months. Calvin is looking to test the idea at the next group that meets in Bristol. Watch this space for the next meeting date.

A Shift of Focus for the Braillists

We’ve had a great year for the Braillists in 2016, seen membership tip over 250, and lots of expressions of interests from a variety of new projects. Therefore Braillists groups will now have a much greater project focus rather than restricted to geographic location. For example, groups will come together to test the Canute for Bristol Braille Technology, support the development of other braille-related technologies that come along, develop innovative approaches for teaching braille, advocate for braille generally, etc. Groups will still be able to meet together if the members live near to one another, but they will also include members who participate remotely, using Skype for example.

BBC Micro:Bit

The BBC have been developing a new miniature computer to teach children how to code. Its a little like a Raspberry Pi (not a pie, mind), but with its own small screen, cheaper and simpler to program.

The Braillists will be assisting the BBC to develop blind and VI accessible add-ons to the Micro:Bit and to run trials to test accessibility for blind users. Watch this space…

Braille Calliper

Ed Rogers visited Squirrel Devices in Boston, MA, who have designed amazing Braille callipers. They are using an innovative non-digital technology for rendering refreshable Braille numbers on the head of the callipers.

They sell in America for around $20, and they’re planning on bringing them to the UK and Ireland as well. They have sent the Braillists eight sample units, six of which we’ve already distributed to teachers of Braille to trial in educational settings.

They are keen to work with the Braillists; be that helping distribution or a series of brain storms to come up with alternative uses for their very exciting technology.

Sight Village London

With SV London coming up, now’s the moment to start planning. Its not too late to book a stall, but we’ll need volunteers to man it. Alternatively we could do another Braille and Beer in the Elephant and Castle pub, like last year.