News

Introducing BrailleBlaster, Tuesday at 7:30 PM

According to its website, “BrailleBlaster™ is a braille transcription program developed by the American Printing House for the Blind to help transcribers provide blind students with braille textbooks on the first day of class.” It uses markup from source documents to automate formatting, and provides “tools to make advanced tasks quicker and easier.”

Although it is “Designed primarily for editing textbooks that meet the specifications published by the Braille Authority of North America,” the adoption of Unified English Braile in most English-speaking countries makes it suitable for use in a wide variety of applications in many parts of the world. It is free of charge and compatible with virtually all braille embossers.

On Tuesday, we are delighted to be joined by two representatives from APH to introduce us to BrailleBlaster and demonstrate some of its features:

  • Willow Free is the Tactile Technology Product Manager and based in the United States
  • Michael Whapples is the Lead Developer of BrailleBlaster and based in the United Kingdom

Register for the Masterclass here.

To join by phone, please use these details:

  • Phone number: 0131 460 1196
  • Meeting ID: 865 1081 2046
  • Passcode: 123456

A Message from Duxbury Systems: In Loving Memory of Our Dear Friend and Colleague

Dear Duxbury Community,

This week brings sad news for our Duxbury Systems family. Our colleague, David Holladay, passed away in a hospital on Thursday, February 15th, following an accident at home that morning. David was a cancer survivor and valiantly battled multiple medical problems over his last five years.

David was an early innovator in braille software. Together, he and his wife, Caryn Navy, founded Raised Dot Computing (later Braille Planet) in 1981. David’s early work on Apple II computers was groundbreaking in support of accessibility for blind users through speech and production of braille and of print from braille input. He went on to support production of print math from Nemeth Code mathematics braille. Later work at Raised Dot Computing culminated in the introduction of MegaDots, an innovative product with unparalleled support for braille formats.

David and Caryn joined Duxbury Systems in 1999 and have been part of the family ever since. David’s work at Duxbury focused largely on extending the reach of DBT to many, many countries and languages around the world. Though confined to bed over the last several years of his life, David’s passion for braille wouldn’t allow him to rest. He was working until his very last day.

It is our belief that the larger braille world will miss David as much as we do here at Duxbury.


David’s funeral will be at Congregation Shalom in Chelmsford Massachusetts at noon Eastern Standard Time on Monday, with burial at 1 PM at Beth El Cemetery in Chelmsford.


I am responding to the devastating announcement about my dearest husband David Holladay’s passing, to add the information on streaming his funeral service.

Streaming of the service, scheduled for noon Eastern Standard Time on Monday, Feb. 19, will be available during or after the service at: congregationshalom.org/worship-2/.

Press the Play button just after the level 3 heading “Live streaming of services is now available!” Note that if your screen reader does not recognize that as a button, you can use an alternative, such as a simulated left click.

With warmest regards for the community that meant so much to David,
Caryn

Reminder: Braille Display Usage Survey from the European Blind Union

Dear braille users,

the period for data collection in our questionnaire is comming to its end. We would like to ask you to help us to collect as much information from braille users as possible regarding the braille display usage. Those, who are still considering to add their answers to this collection, please, do so until the 29TH of February.

Thank you in advance for your help.

Original text of the invitation:

the European Blind Union (EBU) invites you to take part in a survey to enhance the use of braille displays.

Braille displays become more and more important to read and edit text in an electronic way. But the performance of electronic braille should get better.

So EBU wants to talk to braille display and screen readers producers to improve the access to electronic braille.

For this we ask you about your experiences, needs and suggestions in the use of braille displays with computer, smartphone and braille display as a stand—alone device.

Answering the following questions takes you maximum 10 minutes.

Please answer our questionnaire until 29th February 2024.

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdTwXqIiE018k3wMOeTqALmMaggvd1sGqOm3VCkbrDUIzHu7A/viewform?usp=sf_link

And please forward this invitation to other persons.

Other versions of the questionnaire in French, Spanish, German and Czech you can find here: https://www.livingbraille.eu/braille-display-usage-survey/

More information on braille of EBU and the EBU braille working group: https://www.euroblind.org/campaigns-and-activities/current-activities/braille-promotion

Take part in exchange about braille in our forum: www.livingbraille.eu

Best wishes from the EBU braille working group

Introducing Musescore accessibility for blind musicians, 7 February at 2:00 PM GMT

Webinar Wednesday from Sight and Sound Technology Ltd:

The Musescore Editor is an easy-to-use application that helps musicians to learn, create, and edit musical notation. The Editor is an open source desktop software application which supports more than 50 languages and is available for PC, Mac and Linux.

If you use Braille music, or if you enjoy composing music, then you’ll want to learn about some of the recent enhancements in the Musescore application which allow accessing and composing music while using a refreshable Braille display, and using six-key entry to input musical notes using the Braille music code.

We’re delighted to be joined for this session by Peter Jonas, who is a developer at Musescore, and who has been instrumental in driving the accessibility of this application.

This is a session not to be missed and we know it will be popular.

Please register here to attend this session.

New Nationwide Braille Courses from Braille IT

Braille courses developed by an East Lancashire charity have been launched nationwide.

Braille IT has worked with Liverpool’s Open Awards to launch three innovative new qualifications based around learning and teaching the tactile writing system used by people who are visually impaired.

Two qualifications cover the production and use of braille content, while the third programme qualifies students to support the teaching of braille.

Students can complete the qualifications in person, or receive materials by post to study via distance learning.

For more information, please see: Clitheroe braille charity founder celebrates national honour | Lancashire Telegraph

Fully Automated Braille Translation with RoboBraille, Today (Tuesday 30 January) at 7:30 PM

Sometimes, you just need a BRF file with no fuss, even though you know it might have the occasional error or won’t be formatted quite as you’d like.

RoboBraille is one solution to this problem. It works with a large variety of file formats including PDF, Microsoft Word and plain text, and converts them to braille within a matter of minutes. Best of all, it’s entirely online, so you don’t need to install anything. You can use it on computers even if you don’t have admin rights, smartphones, tablets and even braille notetakers.

Join us on Tuesday 30 January at 7:30 PM to find out:

  • When is fully automated translation appropriate (and when is it not)?
  • Translating files through the robobraille.org website
  • Translating files by emailing RoboBraille
  • How to evaluate the output
  • Where to find help

Register for the Masterclass here.

To join by phone, please use these details:

  • Phone number: 0131 460 1196
  • Meeting ID: 814 6621 6993
  • Passcode: 123456

VICTA Braille Art Competition 2024

Looking for something fun to do? Get creative with braille art and enter VICTA’s competition!

Open to young people with a vision impairment aged 0 to 29 years, there’s a competition category for everyone, and amazing prizes up-for-grabs.

Children aged 0 to 9 years are invited to send us their name created in braille in an imaginative way, for the chance to win a £40 Hobbycraft voucher. Young people aged 10 to 29 years are set with the challenge of creating a ‘time’ themed braille work of art, also for the chance to win a £40 Hobbycraft voucher! With runners-up prizes and extra prizes for schools and organisations, it’s well worth taking part.

Our entries will be judged by VICTA Patron and Blind Braille Artist, Clarke Reynolds and shared on our online gallery to inspire other budding VI artists.

The competition closes on 31 January, so make sure you get your entries in soon. We can’t wait to see what you create!

Find out more & enter!

RNIB World Book Day Creative Writing Competition for Children with Vision Impairment

Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) is inviting submissions from children with vision impairment for a piece of creative writing (prose or poetry in any form or style is welcome), centred around the theme of “Adventure”.

Taking the lead from RNIB’s motto, ‘See differently’, we want to celebrate different ways of seeing, beholding, and sensing an adventure that you’ve been on or one that you can imagine.

No previous experience of creative writing is required – we are keen to receive submissions from as wide a field as possible. Applicants from traditionally marginalised groups are particularly welcome.

Rules

The competition is open to any child or young person between the ages of 5-12 years with a vision impairment in the UK.
The competition runs from 9am on 1 January 2024, to midnight 18 February 2024.
Send in an original piece of writing up to 500 words in a Word document, MP3 audio or MP4 video, via email.  Or hard copy braille posted to RNIB, The Grimaldi Building, 154a Pentonville Road, London, N1 9JE.
The piece of writing must be based on the theme “Adventure”.
Submissions must be in English.
The use of AI, such as ChatGPT is not permitted.
One submission per author: this will be the first entry emailed to us.
Email all entries with the subject of “WBD competition” to [email protected]. Or if you are posting please address the entry to Lara Marshall.
The top three entries will be sent to award-winning author Michael Morpurgo for him to choose the final winner.
All entries submitted will be read and shortlisted by the RNIB library team.

Prizes

The winner will receive a signed set of ten of Michael Morpurgo’s books, in their preferred format.

Some suggestions to inspire you, but please feel free to come up with your own ideas too:

  • Travelling somewhere new on holiday.
  • Having a crazy dream.
  • Encountering a strange individual.
  • Finding an interesting artefact. Going on a quest to find mysterious treasure.
  • Finding yourself lost in a place you’ve never been before.
  • Having to save a friend in peril.

We can’t wait to read your submission and wish you the very best of luck!

More information can be found on the RNIB website – World Book Day page.