Programs & Services
Newsletter - December 2021
In This Issue
- President's Message (Natalie Martiniello, BLC President)
- Press Release: ICEB compiles adult braille instruction resources from across English-Speaking countries (The International Council on English Braille)
- A Note From Your ICEB Rep (Jen Goulden, Past President)
- Ontario Regional Braille Challenge 2022
- Celebrate World Braille Day 2022 With Us!
- Becoming a BLC Member
- Exciting support group for users of Electronic Braille devices (Kim Kilpatrick, BLC Secretary)
- Become a Braille Zoomer: Next Virtual Get-Together for Adult Braille Learners in February 2022
- Getting to know your BLC board: Kim Kilpatrick, Secretary
- Social Media Activity
By Natalie Martiniello, BLC President
Dear BLC members and friends,
I am sending this message with the warmest holiday greetings from all of us on the board of BLC to you. Wherever you are and whatever the season brings, we hope it is a safe, happy, healthy one, and wish you a year of the same -- plus lots of access to braille of course! -- in 2022.
BLC has a lot to celebrate as another year draws to a close and a new one begins. Here is an overview of some of the exciting things going on:
Braille Zoomers and Starter Kits
Our Braille Zoomers monthly workshops for adult braille learners continues to be a time for braille users to share tips, resources and encouragement related to adult braille learning and to chat about tons of topics related to braille literacy in adulthood. Some of the themes we've covered this year include:
- Accessible and inclusive libraries and how this can support your braille learning goals
- Braille in the kitchen
- Braille for leisure and games
- Strategies for learning braille in adulthood
- Tips to improve your braille reading speed
- Ideas for practicing braille and using braille in daily life
This year, we also launched a new feature in the Braille Zoomers program -- a drop-in hour where adult braille learners can drop in with any braille related questions they have.
We also launched our braille starter kit program, thanks to generous donors and grants, which adult braille learners across Canada can apply to receive free of charge (while supplies last). To learn more and to request a kit, visit https://www.brailleliteracycanada.ca/en/programs/zoomers/kits
Financial Support for French print-braille books
BLC is thrilled to share that we have launched a new program where parents, teachers and others working with children from across Canada can request financial support for the purchase of print-braille books published in French. Learn more and apply here: https://www.brailleliteracycanada.ca/en/news/now-available-funding-to-assist-with-the-acquisition-or-pro
We are calling on all TVIs and others to spread the news about this program!
With the launch of our new website this year, we have been busily working on the French version of the website as well. We are looking forward to launching these pages in the coming weeks. I want to take this time to thank all the volunteers who are helping with these efforts. We are also looking forward to launching a new webpage with French braille resources. If you have resources you'd like us to include or are able to volunteer to proofread pages on the french website, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our Braille Promotions committee has been busily planning braille workshops throughout the year. Some of the themes covered include:
- Transcription of early literacy materials into braille
- Duxbury for braille readers
- Update on accessible library funding
- Braille, adulthood and aging
- Pairing braille devices with mobile tablets
- Remote braille teaching strategies for TVIs
You can find audio recordings and transcripts for our previous workshops on our website at https://www.brailleliteracycanada.ca/en/programs/workshops Of special interest to transcribers and producers is the most recent workshop on guidelines for transcribing early literacy materials into braille, presented by Bonnie Read, one of the authors of the guidelines. We thank Bonnie for sharing her expertise and invite all those interested to visit the BLC website for the recording and transcript.
Also, stay tuned because our Teaching and Learning committee has some very exciting projects in store for teachers of students with visual impairments in 2022 (shhh, don't tell them I told you!)
Celebrating World Braille Day!
Along with many others from around the world, we celebrate the birth of Louis Braille on January 4th each year, and 2022 is no exception! Did you know that as of 2019, World Braille Day has been officially recognized by the United Nations as a global day of celebration?
You may have seen our announcements about a social media campaign BLC is hosting in collaboration with the CNIB Foundation called #BrailleMyWay, where braille users share what braille means to them. Although the submission deadline has passed, we encourage everyone to share their #BrailleMyWay thoughts on twitter beginning on January 4th and throughout the month of January, using the hashtag #BrailleMyWay -- And watch the BLC twitter page @BRLLitCan for other submissions!
In this newsletter, you will also learn about an exciting line-up of virtual events we've organized in partnership with the Canadian Council of the Blind, the Centre for Equitable Library Access (CELA), the National Network of Equitable Library Services (NNELS), and the Provincial Resource Centre for the Visually Impaired. It's time for you to register for any or all of these events -- so read below for all the details!
Our social media committee has spread the word about #braille on Facebook and Twitter throughout the year, creating a buzz about braille on family literacy day, international literacy month, teacher's appreciation day, and really, every day in between! The first ever BLC braille transcriber's appreciation week (held during the week of June 6th) was also a huge success! We are looking forward to hosting this event each year.
The new membership year will begin on January 1st and it's time to renew your membership if you haven't already!
Personal membership is $20 per year (or $200 for life!) and corporate membership (for organizations) is $250.
Members of BLC have access to many benefits, including a regular newsletter, free access to our workshops and an opportunity to vote at our annual general meeting. While these benefits are great, there is something even more important about becoming a BLC member.
As the governing authority for braille in Canada, your membership in BLC gives you a voice on braille matters both within Canada and on the international stage, through BLC's membership within the International Council on English Braille.
You can learn more about membership benefits and become a member by visiting our website https://www.brailleliteracycanada.ca or by writing to us at email@example.com if you'd like assistance by phone.
Thank you to all our members, and a special welcome to all those who are joining us for the first time!
We have continued to provide braillers to people from across Canada, and thank our incredible talented repair supporters, Francois Ouelette and the Canadian Helen Keller Centre, for helping us with these efforts. We also thank all those who have donated braillers in the past.
We are now in need of more brailler donations for this program to continue. If you have any lonely braillers lying around, please let us know by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org. We can have these shipped for repair and rehomed to waiting braille users, at no cost to the donor or recipient.
So much can happen when we work together. These updates are possible thanks to the many volunteers both on and off the board, alongside so many generous donors and supporters, who continue to help us achieve our mission to promote and support braille for all those who use it.
From all of us to you, thank you for all that you do!
Natalie Martiniello, Ph.D.
President, Braille Literacy Canada
Press Release: ICEB compiles adult braille instruction resources from across English-Speaking countries
By The International Council on English Braille
August 11, 2021 -- The International Council on English Braille (ICEB) recognizes that as the global population continues to age, there is a growing prevalence of adults and older adults who experience vision loss later in life and who would benefit from braille instruction. For almost 200 years, braille has continued to level the playing field for blind people around the world. Adults use braille for functional tasks such as labeling household items, writing phone numbers and lists, personal record-keeping, engaging in leisure activities, reading elevators and public signage. Braille is also vital for more extensive reading tasks in education and employment. Braille provides blind adults with greater privacy, allowing them to access personal information without the assistance of others. Adults can and do learn braille, but there is a need to better understand the current state of available resources for adult braille learners.
"Practitioners in English-speaking countries are developing and using innovative tools to support adult braille learners and it is important that we share this with others," explains Dr. Natalie Martiniello, Chair of the ICEB Research Committee. "There are also gaps in adult braille learning that need to be addressed as we prepare for the future. The first step is compiling what is already available. ICEB is committed to facilitating this process alongside others from around the English-speaking world."
A list of available curricula and learning resources for adults will be compiled and made publicly available on the ICEB website. ICEB invites both individuals and organizations to share information about the learning tools being used to teach braille reading and writing to adults in their respective countries. This includes:
- names of organizations that provide adult braille instruction in different English-speaking countries
- information about textbooks for adult braille learners and/or available self-paced curricula
- adult braille assessment guidelines and resources
- available websites, games and other strategies used to teach braille to adults
- information about workshops and courses on teaching braille to adults designed for practitioners
- peer-support programs for adult braille learners in English-speaking countries
If you have information or items to contribute to this list, or to learn more, please write to email@example.com.
The International Council on English Braille (ICEB) was formed in 1991 and provides a forum for international cooperation among those countries that use English-language braille by assisting countries to establish standard-setting bodies in relation to braille codes and practices; working towards the development and adoption of international minimum standards for the production and teaching of braille; and facilitating the exchange of braille materials between member countries. Its members currently include braille authorities from Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States. To learn more about ICEB, visit http://www.iceb.org or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To celebrate World Braille Day 2022, CNIB and BLC (Braille Literacy Canada) would like to invite you to participate in #BrailleMyWay - a braille social media campaign!
Whatever your age, no matter how often you use braille, we want to hear your spin on what braille helps you do. Embossed braille, refreshable braille, braille input on your iPhone, we want to hear your stories!
Tell us what #BrailleMyWay means to you. Here's how:
- Make a 'show and tell' video. Tell the world why you love braille or how braille helps you.
- Keep it simple and most importantly, keep it short! 10-30 seconds max.
- channels. Get creative and have fun! Your video could be:
- Reading after lights out!
- Making sure you get off the elevator on the right floor.
- Labelling clothes or makeup, so your look is always on point.
- A family game night using accessible board games.
We'd love to see your photos or messages about the importance of braille literacy. While the deadline for submission has passed, you are very welcome and encouraged to share them on your own social media account in January! If you're sharing an image, don't forget to add/include Alt Text and describe your image.
Whatever you do, make sure you tag your posts with the hashtag #BrailleMyWay so CNIB and BLC can like, share or retweet them!
The fun starts in January, on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook! Help us make World Braille Day 2022 a social media success. And of course, don't forget to follow us!
Questions? Email Karen.Brophey@cnib.ca.
A Note From Your ICEB Rep
By Jen Goulden, Past President
As many of you are aware, the International Council on English Braille (ICEB) brings together English-speaking countries from around the world and is the body responsible for Unified English Braille (UEB).
The ICEB Executive holds a face-to-face meeting about halfway through its four-year term. Canada is hosting the upcoming midterm meetings, which will take place from June 5-9, 2022. Due to international travel restrictions and the unpredictability of the current situation, we have regretfully decided that the meetings will take place via Zoom. Observers are welcome, and we will share more details about this event in the coming months.
If you'd like to learn more about ICEB there are several ways to do so. You can visit http://www.iceb.org for more information. You can also sign up to the ICEB announce list by sending an email to email@example.com. Finally, you can follow ICEB on its social media platforms - on Twitter: @ICEBbraille and on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ICEBbraille/.
Each of the ICEB countries has a voting member on the UEB Code Maintenance Committee listserv, but observers are also welcome. Please write to firstname.lastname@example.org, if you are interested.
Ontario Regional Braille Challenge 2022
What is the Braille Challenge?
- thousands of students (in the United States, Canada and the UK) challenge themselves and test their braille literacy skills, each year, between January-March!
- the Braille Challenge motivates students to practice and perfect skills essential to academic and employment success
Why should my student join the Ontario Regional?
- we help TVI's coordinate ordering and marking of tests, and communication of results to Braille Institute
- we can help your students and families prepare for testing!
- your student(s) will be eligible for prizes at the Regional level
- your student(s) will be invited to participate in our fun virtual awards ceremony at the end of March
- Permission Form deadline for the Ontario Regional: Jan. 10
- Ontario Regional Remote Testing Window: February 28 - March 11
Want an Ontario Regional permission form? Need more info about proctor training? Contact email@example.com
Have a student not quite ready to compete? Did you know, CNIB Foundation offers braille-themed fun and games year-round. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more!
Celebrate World Braille Day 2022 With Us!
In celebration of World Braille Day, Braille Literacy Canada (BLC), the Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB), the CNIB Foundation, the Centre for Equitable Library Access (CELA), the National Network for Equitable Library Service (NNELS), and the Provincial Resource Centre for the Visually Impaired (PRCVI) are organizing a series of online events.
This celebration of braille is open to people of all ages who are curious about braille, either practically, professionally, or somewhere in between! Target audiences include all braille readers, library staff, and educators. The celebration will be conducted virtually on Zoom.
For more information or to register for some or all of these events, please visit http://nnels.ca/world-braille-day.
Becoming a BLC Member
Not a member of BLC?
We'd love for you to join us! Your support will help us promote literacy and increase access to braille across Canada. To become a member please fill out our online membership form.
If you don't wish to become a member but would still like to support the work of BLC we invite you to visit our web site and donate online.
Exciting support group for users of Electronic Braille devices
By Kim Kilpatrick, BLC Secretary
In my role as coordinator of the Canadian Council of the Blind's (CCB) Get Together With Technology (GTT) Program, I started a new group in the spring of 2021.
I started it partly because I love braille and braille displays. I also love helping others with their braille technology. However, I do not own or know about every braille display on the market. So, we started this group to help and support each other and learn from each other. It has been going ever since, with a break in the summer.
We talk about various displays and have small groups to learn a specific display. We also have discussed the following:
- Using a braille display with NVDA, IOS, and JAWS;
- Pairing braille displays with various devices;
- Hosting Zoom calls using braille displays; and
- Many other relevant topics.
We also have regular Q&A sessions where people bring their questions and tips. We have some meetings on Saturday afternoons for those who are working, but our regular meetings are on Thursday afternoons at 2:30 PM Eastern Time.
If anyone is interested in registering for these groups, please email email@example.com.
Become a Braille Zoomer: Next Virtual Get-Together for Adult Braille Learners in February 2022
The next Braille Zoomers virtual get-together for adult and older adult braille learners will be held on Saturday, February 5, 2022. Whether you are in the process of learning braille now or you learned it as an adult at some point in the past, this group is for you!
Each virtual get-together is an informal opportunity to share resources, support and ideas for adult braille learners. While there is a general theme each month, participants will determine the direction of the discussion so that we can best support your braille learning journey. If you have specific braille learning or braille usage questions you'd like us to address, you can write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our next virtual gathering will take place on Saturday, February 5th at 1 PM Eastern (10am Pacific, 11am Mountain, 12pm Central/Saskatchewan, 2pm Atlantic).
To participate, write to email@example.com by Friday, February 4th and we will add you to the list. The details on how to join will be sent to you after you register.
(NOTE, even if you attended an earlier call, you will still need to register for this meeting, as the call-in details will have changed.)
We hope you can join us - let's get the virtual braille fun started!
Getting to know your BLC board: Kim Kilpatrick, Secretary
Who are you?
My name is Kim Kilpatrick (Kimberley actually or Kimbrailley to some) I live in Ottawa Ontario and am the secretary and the CCB representative on the BLC board.
When did you start learning braille? Tell us your favourite braille related memory.
I started learning braille around age 5 but more so in Grade 1 at 6. I loved braille right from the start and loved I could read every night under the covers and not get caught. I loved the smell and feel of braille books and creeking open the covers.
Is there anything about your braille background you'd like to share?
I have been volunteering in the community since I was a teen. I love volunteering and being a part of the community. I also love teaching people how to use their braille technology.
Tell us a bit about what you do for BLC and what you like about it?
I am the current chair of the Braille Promotions committee (helping to organize our workshops and teleconferences) I love that we are doing more of these and am also very excited about the Braille Zoomers and love to help with that too.
What do you want parents, classroom teachers or the general public to understand about braille?
Without braille, I would not be able to read announcements on the radio show I co-host. I would not be able to watch for hands, chats, in zoom. I would have more trouble chairing and following along in meetings and presentations. Braille is alive and even more important than ever. Because of braille, I can get lost in books and make up my own voices for characters in my head.
What are your thoughts about BLC as you look back on the past 30 years?
I am just so grateful for BLC and all it has done and continues to do.
What are your thoughts on braille and BLC as you look ahead to the next 30 years?
I am excited about Braille Zoomers, teleconferences and other new initiatives and am excited about the continued progress towards lower cost electronic braille devices.
Social Media Activity
Here are a few of the items we have posted on our social media platforms in recent weeks.
The Mighty River, by Ginalina and illustrated by Kelley Wills (Peppermint Toast Publishing, 2020), available in #braille and Tactile Illustration, and as an Audiobook with or without Image Descriptions: https://www.beautifulworldbooks.com/book. Also available in the NNELS catalogue: https://nnels.ca/items/mighty-river
Check out @PurdysChocolate Holiday Braille Box. Not only does this product promote #accessibility, but #braille and chocolate is just a great combination! https://www.purdys.com/braille-box-18-pc
ICEB has made updates to the #braille page on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Braille
Santa's elves read and write braille! Braille users, send your letters by Dec. 10! https://canadianstampnews.com/keep-an-eye-on-2021-holiday-mailing-deadlines-santa-letter-program/
Are you thinking of purchasing an Orbit Reader Braille display or do you have one but aren't quite sure what's what? Checkout our Getting Around the Orbit Reader 20 masterclass where we introduce the device: https://braillists.org/media
Sign up to get free teaching tips from The Foundation for Blind Children every Tuesday! https://pathstoliteracy.org/resources/teaching-tips-tuesday
Are you a lapsed braille reader wanting to refresh your skills? Sign up for the Braillists Foundation's Braille for Beginners course starting in January where we'll be covering all the fundamentals to get you back on track: https://braillists.org/beginners
You've probably heard of grade 1 and grade 2 #Braille, but did you know that there's also an unofficial grade 3? Learn more in the Braillists Foundation's An Introduction to Grade 3 Masterclass: https://braillists.org/media