Programs & Services
Newsletter - March 2023
In This Issue
- President's Message (Daphne Hitchcock, BLC President)
- Save the date: BLC's Third Annual Virtual Braille Symposium is June 2nd, 2023 from 1-5pm EDT
- Save the date: BLC's 2023 Annual General Meeting is June 3, 2023 at 1pm EST
- What is the "eBRF Revolution"? (Jen Goulden)
- What's in a Name? (Rhianna McGregor Hajzer)
- A braille heart
- A Note From Your ICEB Rep (Jen Goulden)
- Brailler Basics: Maintenance for refreshable braille displays
- Specialty Braillers
- Social Media Links
By Daphne Hitchcock, BLC President
Dear BLC friends and family,
This month I have been reflecting on just how fortunate our organization is, as it has been the recipient of some incredible gifts from the community these past months.
As many of you know, we have an initiative called the Brailler Bounce, where we take in donated braillers that are broken or have fallen into disuse; and we in turn, have each of the braillers fully serviced and brought into A-1 condition. Then the braillers are re-homed to those in the community who need a brailler for day to day work at home, school or in the workplace. The viability of this program is dependent on two things: receiving donated braillers and funding to cover the costs of re-furbishing the equipment. Well, typical of a true Canadian winter BLC experienced a blizzard, a 'blizzard of braillers'. During the month of January we learned that we will be the recipients of 60, yes that is six zero, donated braillers. This incredible windfall is thanks to Glenda Parsons, Director of Student Programming with APSEA, who connected us with the APSEA department responsible for donating broken braillers. We are truly grateful for this amazing gift. Funds to repair these braillers are required, but there is more good news to share...
For the past year an anonymous donor matched monthly donations made to Braille Literacy Canada, dollar for dollar, to a maximum sum of $1000/month. This gift provided for us financial security to conduct our business, including the provision of programmes and resources to our membership and beyond. In the true sense of the word, this was an awe-some gift and came just at a time when we really needed it. The impact of this donation extends into the coming months, with the donor continuing the matching incentive to a maximum of $500/month. If you are in the position of being able to pledge a monthly donation to BLC, this would be the time to do it. Donations can be directed to towards our BLC Endowment Fund, directly through our BLC website, or through Canada Helps. Our heartfelt gratitude goes out our loyal donors for their wonderful support.
And there are other ways that our community supports us. I would be remiss if I forgot to mention how thankful I am for the service and support of Canada Post. Their commitment to providing free delivery of materials for the blind enables us to send braillers and Zoomers Braille Starter Kits all over the country at no cost. Yesterday I mailed a brailler (a whooping 4.8kgs) from my home in British Columbia to a recipient in New Brunswick, and it is arriving tomorrow! Wow, coast to coast, who said that braillers don't fly? Thank you Canada Post!
Support for BLC also comes through making connections. During January BLC collaborated with colleagues from CCB, NNELS, CELA, PRCVI, AERO and CNIB: Beyond Print, to present several workshops on braille, braille resources and services. The first of these presentations, ABCs of Braille: Basics for Beginners, is now available to view online. Be sure to check back for the posting of subsequent presentations.
All of this to say, thank you for your support of Braille Literacy Canada. Your memberships, donations of time and funding, and your expressed interest in participating in programming keeps us moving ahead with the goal of improving access to information in braille for all. The vital work of BLC continues because of you.
I am looking forward to the coming months; stay tuned for information on upcoming workshops and save the date for our next Braille Symposium, June 2, 2023.
All the best,
Save the date: BLC's Third Annual Virtual Braille Symposium is June 2nd, 2023 from 1-5pm EDT
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 third annual virtual braille symposium on Friday June 2nd, 2023 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 2022
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 at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more!
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
Réservez la date ! Troisième symposium virtuel annuel de Braille Literacy Canada!
Où que vous soyez, la communauté internationale du braille est forte. Alors que nous nous tournons vers l'avenir prometteur de l'alphabétisation en braille, il y a beaucoup de choses à célébrer et à partager.
Braille Literacy Canada (BLC) tiendra son troisième symposium virtuel annuel sur le braille le vendredi 2 juin 2023, de 13 h à 17 h HAE. Cet événement intéressera les lecteurs de braille, les éducateurs, les transcripteurs, les parents et tous ceux qui se passionnent pour l'alphabétisation en braille !
Un grand nombre d'intervenants passionnants et de renommée mondiale donneront des présentations d'une demi-heure (commençant au début de chaque heure), suivies d'un temps de questions-réponses et de discussion, avec des prix de présence intéressants disséminés tout au long de la journée !
L'année dernière, cet événement international a rassemblé des passionnés de braille du monde entier, ainsi qu'une brochette d'orateurs exceptionnels : consultez les enregistrements ici : Braille Symposium 2022
Le symposium est gratuit pour les membres et 20 $ pour les non-membres. Vous souhaitez devenir membre de la BLC ? L'adhésion annuelle est de 20 $ - Écrivez-nous pour en savoir plus ! email@example.com
Plus de détails sur le thème, l'inscription et le programme seront bientôt disponibles - Notez la date dans vos calendriers ! Ce sera un événement à ne pas manquer.
Votre équipe de Braille Literacy Canada
Save the date: BLC's 2023 Annual General Meeting is June 3, 2023 at 1pm EST
NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that the annual general meeting of the members of Braille Literacy Canada / Littératie braille Canada (the "Corporation") will take place on Saturday, June 3rd, 2023 from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. Eastern Time (10am Pacific, 11am Mountain/Saskatchewan, 12pm Central, 2pm Atlantic) via the Zoom platform.
This meeting will be held for the purposes of:
- Approving the minutes of the 2022 Annual General Meeting of members;
- Receiving the financial statements of the Corporation; and
- Electing the board of directors.
To vote, you must have been a member of Braille Literacy Canada (and paid your annual membership dues) as of May 12, 2023. For those unable to attend the meeting, electronic ballots (along with complete AGM materials) will be sent to members on or before May 12, 2023.
If you hold both a personal membership and you are a corporate representative, recall that you may submit two ballots: one for you personally, and one on behalf of your organization.
Do not hesitate to write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or concerns.
Secretary, Braille Literacy Canada
AVIS EST PAR LES PRÉSENTES DONNÉ que l'assemblée générale annuelle (AGA) des membres de Littératie Braille Canada/Braille Literacy Canada (l'« organisme ») aura lieu le samedi 3 juin 2023 de 13 h à 14 h 30, heure de l'Est (10 h heure du Pacifique, 11 h heure des Rocheuses/heure de Saskatchewan, 12 h heure du Centre, 14 h heure de l'Atlantique) sur la plateforme Zoom.
La réunion a pour objectif :
- d'approuver le procès-verbal de l'AGA des membres de 2022;
- de prendre connaissance des états financiers de l'organisme;
- d'élire les membres du conseil d'administration.
Pour avoir le droit de vote, vous devez être membre de Littératie Braille Canada (et avoir payé votre cotisation annuelle) en date du 12 mai 2023. Pour ceux qui ne peuvent pas assister à la réunion, les bulletins de vote électroniques (ainsi que les documents complets de l'AGA) seront envoyés aux membres au plus tard le 12 mai 2023.
Si vous êtes à la fois membre à titre personnel et représentant d'un organisme, rappelez-vous que vous pouvez remplir deux bulletins, soit un bulletin personnel et un bulletin pour le compte de ce dernier.
Si vous avez des questions ou des préoccupations, n'hésitez pas à communiquer avec nous à email@example.com.
La secrétaire de Littératie Braille Canada,
What is the "eBRF Revolution"?
By Jen Goulden
If you own a notetaker or a refreshable braille display you likely read BRF files on a regular basis. BRF (or Braille Ready Files) can be created using software such as Duxbury or BrailleBlaster, or by means of a refreshable braille device. This file type has been around for decades and it's a game-changer for those of us who grew up with only hard copy braille. That said, BRF files have a major disadvantage when compared to other electronic formatss: they are not navigable by elements such as headings, and they're only searchable if you know the exact text you want to find. The reason for this is that BRFs are basically text-only files, even though the text in this case is actually braille.
To illustrate this point, let's say we have a document in MS Word that contains headings, lists, links and a table or two for good measure. Let's also assume (I know, never do that!) that the document author knows about accessibility and formatted the content using Word's built-in styles. Now the braille transcriber comes along and imports the file into Duxbury. The styles can be imported along with the content, and this often helps to speed up the transcription process. Once the transcription is done, the file can, of course, be embossed. It can also be saved as a BRF, at which point all of the styles are lost. The document will "look right" in the sense that headings will be centred and lists will begin in cell 1 with runovers in cell 3. But beyond that, there is no longer any way to navigate to a table, click on a link, or to efficiently search for the chapter in The Lord Of The Rings where Frodo finally reaches Mount Doom.
This brings us to an emerging format that is being referred to as eBRF. The American Printing House (APH), the DAISY Consortium, along with many other organizations and individuals, are working to develop a format that will combine the output of a BRF - in terms of code and formatting - with the structure and functionality of HTML or EPUB.
The eBRF is a new file type being developed by experts from over 17 different countries who represent every facet of our field, from braille users, libraries, and printing houses to software and hardware developers and transcribers. This file type will add new features to digital braille so that it is reflowable, easier to navigate, and includes digital tactile graphics integrated with text, for display on multiline refreshable braille devices.
This quote is taken from a post on the APH web site entitled "The eBRF Revolution". If you'd like to learn more about this exciting development in the world of braille literacy and technology, you can read the entire article at this link: https://www.aph.org/the-ebrf-revolution/.
What's in a Name?
By Rhianna McGregor Hajzer
Disclaimer: This article is in no way directed at any particular magazine or publication, but is merely a commentary on the greater issue of entitlement and the circumstance that started me thinking about it as a cultural issue that isn't often discussed.
I'm holding the printed copy of the magazine that arrived in the mailbox from the editor. At last, tangible evidence that my writing is no longer just a hobby or a dream, but a reality, right here in my hands. I am now a published author. I feel, in that way you imagine an actress feels stepping off the plane and taking their first breath of Hollywood -- the epitome of their dreams come true -- that I have arrived. Or, in the very least, that I am on my way.
But something's missing. The page is blank to my searching fingertips. I trail my fingers across its surface but it is glossy and flat. Despite what I know, that my name is indeed written in the by-line, there is no braille. And I am overwhelmed with an unsettling mix of disappointment, grief, sadness and, is that relief?
Despite the near one-quarter of the Canadian populace that identifies as disabled, the world continues to operate on able-bodied principles. Sliding aside the 500,000 blind Canadians, braille is hard to come by without special request. And in a culture that maddeningly equates entitlement with equality, I've become afraid of being labeled as "too much" for wanting equal access.
I know the arguments. It's too expensive. It would only serve a minority of the readership. Better to focus our energy and resources on what will serve the most people (don't you mean, make you the most money?) The answer is yes -- those arguments have merit. Does that mean that we forego advocating for equality and a level playing field? Do blind authors deserve the same satisfaction and pride of reading their names on a cover as sighted authors take for granted? I believe the answer is yes, and not simply because I am in such a position. But because that answer applies to a broader scope of equality that blind and visually impaired people have been fighting to achieve for decades.
Yet, the entitlement nags at me as I hold the magazine in which my first piece is published. Shouldn't I be grateful? Yes, and of course, I am. But let's not start mistaking a grateful heart for a settling of substandard practices. We still need to fight and bring about the equality that people of all disabilities deserve, but do so with gratitude of the progress that has been made and the people that are fighting for that change alongside us.
I didn't expect to mourn this. What's in a name, after all?
Mine has three words, 21 letters and 62 dots. But it's mine. It's a part of my identity in which I take immense pride, and all I long to do is run my fingers across those dots and know that the disabled part of my identity is worth it. Yes, it would cost extra money to emboss the magazine. And yes, it would only serve a minority of the readership. But what is more important -- catering to the majority or ensuring the marginalized have a place, too?
As much as I know in my heart the answer, it will be a balance I'll struggle to strike for the rest of my life.
Rhianna McGregor Hajzer AKA 62 dots
A braille heart
Tactile graphics are just another way of convening information. With the past month of hearts and flowers, here's how to make a mini brailled heart shape.
- Line one: space, dots 2-3-4 (letter s), dots 1-5 (letter e), dots 2-4 (letter i), dots 1-5-6 (wh)
- Line two: space, dots 1-2-6 (gh), dots 1-2-3-4-5-6 (full cell), dots 1-2-3-4-5-6 (full cell), dots 3-4-5 (ar)
- Line three: space, space, dots 1-5 (letter e), dots 2-4 (letter i)
Just for fun, you could put a hug and kiss in the center of the heart instead of 2 full cells:
- Line two variation: space dots 1-2-6 (gh), dots 1-3-4-6 (letter x), dots 1-3-5 (letter o), dots 3-4-5 (ar)
If you want to have more fun with brailler tactiles, check out Brailler Drawings on the Perkins website.
A Note From Your ICEB Rep
By Jen Goulden
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).
ICEB produces a quarterly newsletter under the excellent direction of Mary Schnackenberg of New Zealand. This newsletter is jam-packed with all sorts of braille-related events and information from around the world. If you'd like to receive the newsletter, UEB updates and other announcements directly into your inbox, we invite you to subscribe to our one-way announce list by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also follow us on Facebook, or on Twitter at @ICEBbraille.
Brailler Basics: Maintenance for refreshable braille displays
If you have weak braille happening on your display, brailler repair master, Rick, suggests the following:
- Make sure that the pins are retracted on the display panel
- Use a tooth brush and dip it into Fantastic with Bleach.
- Then flick the brush a few times to take off the extra liquid, all of the residual
- Use the flicked tooth brush to rub back and forth on the display. You can be quite vigorous with this action, but MAKE SURE that the display pins are retracted.
- Once you have really cleaned well using the toothbrush, use a Q-tip with 99% alcohol (available at any pharmacy). Shake off any excess liquid before cleaning with the Q-tip. Use the Q-tip to go over it line by line, each cell. Again, make sure that the display pins are retracted.
Cleaning using the above manner, may help to clean off surface dirt or a sticky pin. This method works well with any of the displays.
The Fantastic floats the dirt off the display, and the rubbing alcohol removes it.
Proactively, always make sure your hands are clean before you use your display. Dead skin and dandruff are both culprits in gumming up the works.
The original classic Perkins brailler is most familiar to us. But did you know that this tried and true piece of equipment is also available with some modifications?
- The Electric Perkins Brailler enables braille writing with much less force for longer periods of time. With the lighter touch on the keys, those who may experience painful arthritic fingers can braille with somewhat more ease.
- Another modification available on the Perkins is the use of extension keys. These modified keys make braille writing easier for individuals with limited hand strength and dexterity, including those with the use of only one hand.
Should you or someone who know benefit from one of these modified braillers, don't hesitate to let us know. Contact email@example.com specifying your need for a specialty brailler, and your name will be put onto our waitlist.
Social Media Links
Here are a few of the items we have posted on our social media platforms in recent weeks.
- The Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians (AEBC) is now accepting applications for the 2023 AEBC and Allyant Scholarship Program. The deadline to apply is now April 30, 2023 (extended from Friday, March 31, 2023). For more information, go to http://blindcanadians.ca/programs/scholarship
- Did you know that you can borrow dual media, print and #braille, books from #CELA and #NNELS? @Brllitcan
- Celebrate Family #Literacy Day and enrich your classroom library with dual media books in print and #braille. "My City Speaks" braille edition, KidsCan Press or choose braille edition print books from Groundwood Books. A Kid is a Kid is a Kid... http://dlvr.it/ShXC5l
- Earlier this month our very own Natalina Martiniello was interviewed on NOW with Dave Brown. You definitely want to check this video out! https://youtu.be/MbpWGCVjA_4 #Braille literacy is indeed alive and well.
- January 27th is Family Literacy Day! Celebrate by learning some fun songs about #braille literacy. https://aph.org/songs-to-celebrate-braille-literacy/?fbclid=IwAR1yEfbjcu-ee11Zy1MzzIRijXL1dQ2fb_Uq_y8FufD2LxGdbg2vzojpvuk
- #EndTheBookFamine Blind SA and SECTION27 launch a brochure titled #ENDINGTHEBOOKFAMINE For People Who Are Blind Or Visually Impaired, A Guide To Accessible Format Shifting. https://dropbox.com/s/8dvkdsqew1mp4wr/Ending-the-Book-Famine-Digital-final.pdf?dl=1