News

You Are Invited To Receive The UKAAF Magazine “Format Matters”

The United Kingdom Association for Accessible Formats(UKAAF) is the official standard-setting body for Braille, Music Braille, Accessible Images, (and other accessible formats) in the UK

Three times a year, it publishes a magazine called “Format Matters”, designed to share updates about UKAAF’s work and highlight exciting news stories in the wider accessible format industry. Anyone can receive the magazine free of charge as a PDF file, and if you live in the UK, you can also opt to receive it in a range of accessible formats in hard copy through the post.

To receive the magazine, you need to join UKAAF as a member – but don’t panic! There is no charge for individuals. The form is very short and can be completed on the UKAAF website.

UKAAF membership form

When prompted, please answer as follows:

  • Membership Type: Individual
  • Organization Name: your name
  • Billing Address: leave blank – you only need to pay for organizational memberships, not individual ones
  • Category of Membership: Member – £Free

We hope you enjoy the magazine.

An Introduction To Arabic Braille, Tuesday 18 June at 7:30 PM

This session, presented by Saima Akhtar, is designed to give you a Whistlestop tour of the fundamentals of Arabic braille. Rest assured, it’s not nearly as complicated as you think. By the end of the session, you will have more insight into the following areas:

  • The origins of Arabic braille.
  • Common misconceptions around the structure and layout of Arabic braille.
  • How the Arabic alphabet is constructed. (Here we will tackle the puzzling conundrum surrounding how to identify consonants and vowels.)
  • Next steps for anybody looking to learn more after the session.

Please note, it will be much easier to follow along if you have a grasp of grade one English braille as I will be referring to similarities between English and Arabic braille throughout the session.

Register for the Masterclass here.

To join by phone, please use these details:

  • Phone number: 0131 460 1196
  • Meeting ID: 815 6532 8012
  • Passcode: 123456

When Is Braille Music Right For You? (A panel discussion on approaches to learning and composing music) Thursday 20 June at 7:00 PM

The Sound Without Sight initiative have asked us to share the following announcement:

We are excited to announce our next Monthly Meet-up and have something extra special lined up for this month! We will be hosting a panel of three very special guests:

  • Andre Louis, a renowned jazz composer and music technology accessibility consultant;
  • Kevin Satizabal, a composer and music journalist, who currently works for the BBC;
  • and Clare Gailans, a braille music teacher and transcriber, and advocate for accessible formats for music notation.

The panel will be comparing and contrasting different approaches to learning and creating music, such as using braille music notation, learning by ear, and using notation software to explore digital scores. Join us as we unravel the pros and cons of these approaches!

The session will be taking place on Zoom. Of course, everyone is welcome, but we believe this session would be particularly relevant to people interested in exploring new methods of learning, composing, or performing music, and people connected to music education.

Topics of discussion will include:

  • Advantages of each approach described above.
  • Potential difficulties of each approach and how to overcome them.
  • Suggestions of accessible software options that can support these approaches.
  • Tips for using each method when collaborating with sighted musicians.
  • Is braille music still relevant in the modern world?
  • Is there a ‘better’ method?

This will be a relaxed, informal discussion and audience participation is encouraged. We will be prioritising questions submitted in advance of the event, so we advise that you contact us with any questions you may have so that we can ensure that they are included in the discussion. We hope that there will also be time for Q&A, so that you have the opportunity to ask any questions that may occur to you during the session.

Please note that this session will be recorded and published on podcasting platforms, so if you contribute during the session, you are consenting to appearing in the recording. This session is open to all ages, but we advise that children or young people wishing to attend the session should be accompanied by an adult.

We hope to see you there!

Register for the braille music event here.

Join the UKAAF-Announce List and Stay Up-To-Date With Braille Standards

The United Kingdom Association for Accessible Formats(UKAAF) is the official standard-setting body for Braille, Music Braille, Accessible Images, (and other accessible formats) in the UK, and has recently launched a brand new channel for keeping you informed about its work.

UKAAF’s Braille Subject Area periodically publishes standards, guidelines and reference documents on the application of Unified English Braille in the UK. Recent examples include guidelines on best practice for formatting documents, transcription of foreign language material, binding and labelling documents, and a single-page reference document for UEB readers who need to read SEB publications. In addition, the Music Subject Area has recently published an introduction to automated braille music transcription.

UKAAF also works closely with the braille technology industry and has recently completed a large project updating the UK template for the Duxbury Braille Translator.

In the near future, guidance is expected on how to transcribe home nation languages in an English context, e.g. in study materials for an English person learning Welsh.

If you would like to receive an email whenever new standards, guidance and reference documents are published, as well as occasional notices of consultations, conferences and training events on accessible formats, please subscribe to the brand new UKAAF-announce mailing list on groups.io.

You may either use the link above or send a blank email to: [email protected]

UKAAF looks forward to welcoming you and sharing its work more widely through this channel.

BLC Braille Symposium – time to register! “Touch the future”

“Touch the future”

Braille Literacy Canada (BLC) will hold its fourth annual virtual braille symposium on Friday, June 14, 2024 from 1 – 5 PM EDT (10am-2pm Pacific/11am-3pm Mountain/Saskatchewan, 12pm-4pm Central, 2pm-6pm Atlantic, 5pm-9pm UTC).

The schedule of events is as follows

  • 1:00pm EDT: Teaching Braille to Adults: Beyond Just Knowing the Code (Jennifer Ottowitz, CVRT, National Research and Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision)
  • 2:00pm EDT: Where are We Now? An Update on the Monarch Dynamic Braille and Tactile Graphics Display (Peter Tucic, Humanware)
  • 3:00 pm EDT: What’s the Problem with Pre-Braille? Re-Visiting Early braille literacy (Adam Wilton, Ph..D, Provincial Resource Centre for the Visually Impaired)
  • 4:00pm EDT: Braille Music – using technology, how do we learn it, how do we find resources? (Jordie Howell, Vision Australia, International Council on English Braille)

Each presentation will be approximately 30 minutes long, followed by a 15 minute question-and-answer period, and then a 15 minute intermission. More information on our exciting line up of speakers will be provided soon!

Stay tuned – a presentation in French will also be announced shortly!

Thank you to our incredible sponsor!

We would like to take a moment to thank our sponsor, Humanware, who through their generous support, are helping to make this event a true success, including by donating an incredible door prize!

Registration

Registration will close on June 11th, 2024. Live automatic captioning will be provided for the presentations through Zoom, and written transcripts of the presentations will be made available after the event. Once you have submitted your registration, your request will be reviewed and a Zoom link will be e-mailed to you within a few days. Email any questions you have to [email protected].

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

This event is open to anyone in Canada and internationally with an interest in braille. It is free of charge to members of Braille Literacy Canada (or members of organizations who are corporate members of BLC) and $20.00 for non-members. Interested in becoming a BLC member? Annual membership (open to all Canadians) is $20 – check out our membership section (https://www.brailleliteracycanada.ca/en/membership) for more information

Presentation Information and Speaker Bios

Teaching Braille to Adults: Beyond Just Knowing the Code

Speaker: Jennifer Ottowitz, CVRT
Time: 1 PM Eastern

Adults of all ages who are blind or have low vision may benefit from learning braille. In addition to goals for using braille for extensive reading, even learning a few symbols can result in increased independence with identifying items or increased socialization through playing games. Whatever the braille goal, effective instruction involves more than just teaching the braille code. How do you get started and what approaches work best? Discover how to incorporate adult learning theory into assessment and instruction to make learning more meaningful and relevant. Information will be shared about a free resource that provides strategies and suggestions for how to approach braille learning with adults, how to use assessment and instructional strategies for reading and writing braille, and how to keep learners motivated. Customizing instruction for individuals with unique learning needs and additional comorbidities will also be discussed.

Objectives:
  • Identify how to positively address misconceptions about learning braille.
  • Explain how adult learning theory can be incorporated into braille assessment and instruction.
  • Describe the Teaching Braille to Adults course offered by the National Research and Training Center On Blindness and Low Vision.
Bio:

Jennifer Ottowitz is a Certified Vision Rehabilitation Therapist and Older Blind Specialist with the Older Individuals Who Are Blind Technical Assistance Center (OIB-TAC) which is part of the National Research and Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision housed at Mississippi State University. She received her Bachelor of Science in Education degree in Special Education for the Multiply and Orthopedically Handicapped from Kent State University and her Master of Science in Education degree in Special Education for the Visually Impaired from Northern Illinois University. She is co-editor of the Foundations of Vision Rehabilitation Therapy textbook and brings over 30 year’s experience providing direct service to adults who are blind or who have low vision. As a braille reader herself she understands firsthand the importance of braille as a tool for literacy and independence.

Where are We Now? An Update on the Monarch Dynamic Braille and Tactile Graphics Display

Speaker: Peter Tucic
Time: 2 PM Eastern

Join Peter Tucic, the Director of Strategic Partnerships at HumanWare, for a discussion on the Monarch tactile graphics and multi-line braille display. With the release being only months away, Peter will provide updates on availability, results of educational field testing and teacher trainings, and the feature set that will be ready for launch for this revolutionary device. Peter will also talk of what is to come, and will have time to answer participant questions.

Bio:

Peter Tucic graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in History. Peter is currently the Brand Ambassador of Blindness Products for HumanWare. He travels throughout the US and Canada, supporting teachers and students and presenting at state and national conferences. Peter has presented at such conferences as the National ACB and NFB, in addition to the CSUN and ATIA conferences amongst many others. Peter has also been published in Closing the Gap magazine and regularly creates written and video tutorials for a wide array of products.

What’s the Problem with Pre-Braille? Re-Visiting Early Braille Literacy

Speaker: Adam Wilton, Ph.D.
Time: 3 PM Eastern

This presentation looks critically at the skills and techniques generally referred to as “pre-braille” skills in the early literacy development of learners who are blind or partially sighted. We’ll look at how strategies and approaches have evolved to support the development of these skills in increasingly digital learning spaces. We’ll review the tactile strategies that are essential to early braille reading and writing and how they can be adapted for a range of learner profiles – using the Braille Bites series as a foundation. Finally, the presentation will provide a rationale and call to action for prioritizing tactile strategies for all blind and partially sighted learners. Join us for a lively discussion of tips and tricks about touch!

Bio:

Adam Wilton, PhD, is the Program Manager of the Provincial Resource Centre for the Visually Impaired (PRCVI) in Vancouver, British Columbia. He has been an educator for 17 years, working mostly as a Teacher of Students with Visual Impairments and Orientation and Mobility Specialist. Adam has numerous connections to the braille world – he is a Director for Braille Literacy Canada, the Coordinator of the BC Regional Braille Challenge, and the past Chair of the Canadian Association of Educational Resource Centres for Alternate Format Materials.

Braille Music – using technology, how do we learn it, how do we find resources?

Speaker: Jordie Howell
Time: 4 PM Eastern

It is incredible to think of Louis braille, a teenager in the 1800s geeking around with dots to create what we now call braille and braille music. In addition to literary braille, Louis Braille’s system for music in braille is still the only international braille code in existence. If you borrow a braille music score in Canada, Australia, Norway or Vietnam, you will recognize the note values, time signatures and fundamental signs. Formatting differs quite drastically though.

This presentation will be split into three parts:

  • Introduction: brief description of what braille music is and how does it work?
  • Resources available to learn braille music: books, YouTube videos and podcasts.
    I will direct participants to some online resources in different countries to assist them to begin their journey in braille music learning.
  • Demonstrations of braille music translation programs from a braille using perspective on how to convert print music into braille.
    Examples of conversions with Goodfeel, Musescore and SMB will be included as well as an overview of the DAISY Music Braille Project.
Bio:

Jordie is the Immediate Past Chair of the Australian Braille Authority, and the Australian representative to the International Council on English Braille for which she also chairs the music committee. She is a braille music transcriber for Vision Australia where she works with volunteers to convert print music to braille, as well as help develop automation processes in braille music translation. Jordie is also the music teacher with the Statewide Vision Resource Centre in Victoria where she enjoys working with children learning braille technologies along with braille music, and running professional development for teachers in braille music.

Braille music has been a vital tool in Jordie’s professional singing and teaching work.

Jordie is a classical soprano and sings professionally as a soloist and in choirs. A passionate advocate for braille and a lifelong braille user, Jordie is in her happy place when braille and music are in almost every aspect of her life.


Braille Literacy Canada / Littératie braille Canada, founded in 1990 as the Canadian Braille Authority, is a national charitable organization dedicated to the promotion of braille as the primary medium of literacy for those who are blind or visually impaired. BLC is recognized by the International Council on English Braille as the authority for the development, adoption, and establishment of standards relating to braille in Canada. With a membership comprising organizations and individuals, educators, braille transcribers, braille producers, parents of braille users and braille users themselves, BLC represents a broad cross-section of those working with or impacted by braille and is led by a volunteer board of directors elected by the BLC membership.

Visit our web site at https://www.brailleliteracycanada.ca or join us on social media:
On X: @BrlLitCan
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BrailleLiteracyCanada/
On LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/3502741/

Fourth Annual Braille Literacy Canada virtual Symposium – Save the date!

Save the date! Fourth Annual Braille Literacy Canada virtual Symposium!

Wherever you are located, the international braille community is strong. As we look ahead into the bright future of braille literacy, there is much to celebrate and share.

Braille Literacy Canada (BLC) will be holding its fourth annual virtual braille symposium on Friday June 14th, 2024 from 1 – 5 PM EDT. This event will be of interest to braille readers, educators, transcribers, parents and anyone else who is passionate about braille literacy!

A host of exciting and world-renowned speakers will give half hour presentations (beginning at the start of each hour) followed by time for Q&A and discussion, with exciting door prizes sprinkled throughout the day!

Last year, this international event brought together braille enthusiasts from around the world, and a line up of exceptional speakers: check out the recordings here: Braille Symposium 2023 Playlist

The symposium will be free of charge to members and $20 for non-members. Interested in becoming a BLC member? Annual membership is $20 – Write to us to learn more! [email protected]

More details on theme, registration and schedule coming soon – Mark the date in your calendars! This will be an event you will not want to miss.

Your Braille Literacy Canada team

Notice of Upcoming Closure

Due to the half term holiday and the eighth General Assembly of the International Council on English Braille, the Braillists will be closed between Friday 24 May and Tuesday 4 June. There will be no Braille Bar on Tuesday 28 May and no Book Club on Thursday 30 May, and we will not be responding to emails during this time frame.

New College Worcester Vacancy: HEAD OF ACCESS TECHNOLOGY (AC239/0524)

View on the NCW Website

Salary commensurate with Teacher’s Terms & Conditions, for Unqualified Teacher pay spine 1-6 (currently £20,598 – £32,134 depending on experience and skills) plus SEN allowance (minimum currently £2,539).
Full time or part time by agreement, to start September 2024.

The purpose of this exciting role is to lead on the teaching and learning of Access Technology across the College. You will lead on training staff to support the effective use of Access Technology appropriate to the needs of our students, and to advocate for the accessibility needs of students and VI staff with the NW community.

The ability to read fully contracted Braille is a requirement of the post. The role would be particularly suited to someone with lived experience of VI, especially if they are a fluent Braillist. However, it is open to anyone with the commitment to become fully competent in Braille within the first year of employment. Because of the highly specialist nature of this role, we do not expect the successful candidate to be a qualified teacher, but experience of teaching or training would be an advantage.

In return, alongside their salary, the successful applicant will be welcomed into a busy and supportive school community. The teaching of Access Technology will be one-to-one, allowing for the specialist provision and individual attention that each learner will require. Our green and peaceful campus overlooks the Malvern Hills and has an onsite canteen with discounted lunches available, a state-of-the-art multigym and a full-sized swimming pool which can be used by staff. We also offer a Wellbeing Package to all staff and free car parking.

Candidates are strongly recommended to arrange a tour of the College by emailing . Please note that we close at 16.00 on Friday 24 May for half term the following week.

Closing date: 10am on Monday 3 June 2024
Interview will take place during w/b Monday 10 June 2024

We reserve the right to close this vacancy early should we receive an overwhelming response. All candidates are advised to refer to the job description and person specification before making an application. All applications will be acknowledged by email, but only shortlisted candidates will be contacted after the closing date.

NCW is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young adults and expects all staff and volunteers to share this commitment. This post is a regulated activity, and is conditional on two satisfactory and verified references, an enhanced DBS Clearance and Registration, a medical clearance and a six-month probationary period. NCW is an Equal Opportunities employer.

All candidates must complete an NCW application form, CVs alone will not be accepted.

NEW COLLEGE WORCESTER (NCW)

NCW is the only school of its kind in the UK. As a nationally regarded non-maintained special school, all the students here have one thing in common which is that they all have a vision impairment. Aside from that each young person is unique, individual and incredible in their own way. It is our mission to ensure that each child learning with us is able to reach their own potential, in order to leave NCW as an independent young adult in all aspects of their lives. The majority of our leavers go on to their chosen University, to further education or to apprenticeships and then on to rewarding and fulfilling careers.