Programs & Services
Newsletter - May 2023
In This Issue
- President's Message: Get ready to learn! (Daphne Hitchcock, BLC President)
- Coming up on June 2nd: Braille Literacy Canada's 2023 Virtual Symposium
- Atelier (en français) - 2 juin 2023: Les albums tactiles illustrés des Doigts Qui Rêvent, presque 30 ans d'innovation
- Why the Slate and Stylus? (Jen Goulden)
- Dinosaurs of BC - Braille in the museum
- Celebrating our braille transcribers on 06/06 (Daphne Hitchcock, BLC President)
- The Six-Dot Security Method (Rhianna McGregor Hajzer)
- Workshop Round-Up (Kim Kilpatrick, BLC Vice President)
- Encore disponible : Financement pour aider à l'acquisition ou à la production de livres en braille de langue française pour enfants
- A Note From Your ICEB Rep
- Access to information at academic/scientific conferences: A survey of interest to braille users
- Social Media Links
President's Message: Get ready to learn!
By Daphne Hitchcock, BLC President
Dear BLC family and friends,
I am filled with excited anticipation for our upcoming virtual Braille Symposium - it promises to be a world class event, with presentations coming directly to you from Australia, USA, France, UK and Canada. Our speakers are passionate about the importance of braille and the need to make braille more available to the community and to individuals. On June 2nd, join us as our presenters share their expertise on all things braille. You still have time to register, and as a member of BLC, you can attend at no cost. Read ahead in the newsletter for more information.
We absolutely need more braille. Learning is a life-long process - we learn best when the content has practical relevance and can be directly applied into our routines. We learn best when we are supported by those who have already or are travelling along the same path and when we are comfortable with our situation, relaxed and having fun. Most importantly, we learn best when we can take both enjoyment and pride from our accomplishments. Whether you are seeking information on the technical aspects of the braille code or looking to grasp the fundamentals of tactile braille labelling, BLC wants to meet you on your quest. Our community is strengthened when we share ideas, listen to others and learn together. I am a big proponent of UEB, it is an amazing code. However, one doesn't need to get bogged down by the complexity of the braille code to use braille; its use and braille literacy can be immediate. Learning braille starts with the recognition of a single braille character, and builds from there. Braille literacy can be an option for all those who seek to learn - no doubt about it, braille works.
BLC is your organization and your voice is important to us. Comments, questions and suggestions received in the info box are valued. Thank you for taking the time to communicate with us - many of our workshops are a direct result of your suggestions. The board also welcomes those who plan to join us at the Annual General meeting on June 3 - to register follow the information provided in the AGM package emailed to you on May 12th.
A hearty welcome to those of you who have just become members of BLC. Our organization is pleased to have members in all 10 provinces, but there is always room to grow.
Please share the learning opportunities offered through BLC with your friends and colleagues. We are all about making connections and hope to see you on June 2nd at the Braille Symposium.
Wishing you every success in your braille journey, whether you are a lifelong reader or new to braille.
All the best,
Coming up on June 2nd: Braille Literacy Canada's 2023 Virtual Symposium
Braille Literacy Canada (BLC) will be holding its third annual virtual braille symposium on Friday, June 2, 2023 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 EST: Concurrent English/French presentations:
- English: About Braille Files (James Bowden, RNIB, Braille Technical Officer)
- French: Les albums tactiles illustrés des Doigts Qui Rêvent, presque 30 ans d'innovation (Sophie Blain, Les Doigts Qui Rêvent)
2:00pm EST: I-M-ABLE: Individualized Meaning-Centered Approach to Braille Literacy Education (Dr. Diane Wormsley, Brenda Brodie Endowed Professor, North Carolina Central University, Retired)
- 3:00 pm EST: Expanding the Frontiers of Literacy: Developing Braille Codes for Indigenous Languages (Jen Goulden and Christine Muise)
- 4:00pm EST: Unified English Braille Across Borders (Frances Gentle, Josie Howse, Craig Cashmore)
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, and details on how to register, are available on our web site here: https://www.brailleliteracycanada.ca/en/programs/workshops/2023-symposium.
Atelier (en français) - 2 juin 2023: Les albums tactiles illustrés des Doigts Qui Rêvent, presque 30 ans d'innovation
Les albums tactiles illustrés des Doigts Qui Rêvent, presque 30 ans d'innovation (en français)
Date : 2 juin 2023
Heure : 13h00 heure de l'Est (10h00 Pacifique, 11h00 Montagne/Saskatchewan, 12h00 Central, 14h00 Atlantique)
Durée de l'événement : 45 minutes (30 minutes de présentation, suivies de 15 minutes de questions).
Sophie Blain, directrice générale des Doigts qui rêvent, présentera l'importance des illustrations tactiles dans la construction de la littératie et de la conscience de l'écrit pour les enfants aveugles ou ayant une basse vision dès l'âge de deux ans. Elle abordera ensuite les différents types d'illustrations tactiles conçues aux doigts qui rêvent, la façon de les produire, ainsi que les pistes de médiation proposées. Enfin, elle parlera brièvement de deux innovations : un livre numérique pour les enfants malvoyants où l'enfant peut paramétrer la lisibilité des illustrations et un livre tactile avec des tissus connectés permettant de déclencher des sons en fonction des manipulations tactiles de l'enfant dans le livre.
Sophie Blain, éditrice jeunesse spécialisée en édition accessible aux enfants déficients visuels, elle dirige les éditions benjamins media de 2001 à 2016 (album, livre audio, livre en braille, livre numérique au format epub3, illustration en relief), puis dirige les éditions Les Doigts qui Rêvent depuis 2018 (albums tactiles illustrés). Pour Les Doigts Qui Rêvent, en plus de la direction du projet associatif, elle pilote des projets de création de supports de lecture innovants, projets qui mixent lecture numérique et tissus connectés. Au fil des publications, son expertise en termes d'accessibilité au livre et à l'écrit des personnes en situation de handicap s'est accrue, tant en direction des publics avec handicap sensoriel (visuel, auditif) que cognitif, mental, mais aussi moteur. En plus de son métier d'éditrice, elle forme aussi à l'accessibilité des professionnels du livre et de la culture (formation continue) ou futurs professionnels (formation initiale).
Note : cet atelier est organisé dans le cadre du symposium 2023 de Littératie Braille Canada / Braille Literacy Canada, une série de présentations en anglais portant sur le braille selon diverses perspectives, avec des conférenciers exceptionnels. L'inscription au symposium en anglais est gratuite pour les membres de LBC et de 20 $ pour les non-membres. Plus d'informations ici: https://www.brailleliteracycanada.ca/fr/programs/workshops/2023-symposium
Les participants qui souhaitent uniquement assister à cette présentation en français peuvent le faire gratuitement en écrivant à l'adresse suivante: email@example.com
Why the Slate and Stylus?
By Jen Goulden
The question isn't so much "Why the slate and stylus" as it is "Why the slate and stylus when we now have so much refreshable braille technology available". Dr. Judy Dixon, President of the International Council on English Braille, gave an excellent presentation on the slate and stylus at our recent Braille Promotions workshop.
Judy provided an overview of her remarkable slate collection, but she also led a big picture discussion about the benefits of the slate for lifelong braille readers and learners of all ages. It's portable, lightweight, inexpensive, doesn't rely on batteries and has very few moving parts that might need to be repaired. You can carry it in a purse or a pocket and always have it on hand to jot down a phone number or grocery list.
Much of the presentation focussed on Judy's very extensive slate collection. She has divided it into eight categories, including pocket slates (14 cells or less), full-page slates, interpoint, upward writing, and specialty slates used for labelling or for signing cheques.
Judy's collection of roughly 290 slates contains those that can produce both six- and eight-dot braille, as well as some designed for Moon. Slates come in various sizes, but are also made with a wide variety of materials: plastic, metal, and even a cherrywood slate from Japan to commemorate the 100th anniversary of that country's adoption of braille.
Finally, the collection also covers the history of this device, from a slate used by Louis Braille to a paperless slate invented in the last few years. If you want to learn more about this fascinating resource, go to http://www.brailleslates.org.
Even if most people choose to take notes with a smartphone or other electronic device, the slate and stylus remains the braille reader's equivalent of a pencil or pen. As long as sighted people can justify the need to print or write, there should be no doubt about the value of the slate and stylus.
Dinosaurs of BC - Braille in the museum
The Royal BC Museum has a new travelling exhibition; Dinosaurs of BC. Dig into prehistoric British Columbia and get up close and personal with "Buster", the Iron Lizard of the Sustut River, and the other dinosaurs that once roamed the province's highest peaks, densest forests and most remote river basins.
The exhibit includes braille on the panel descriptions, 3-D touch artifacts, and audio descriptions. When paying admission, patrons who read braille, can request a copy of the braille guidebook, which provides detailed descriptions of the exhibit pieces and includes tactile graphics. For those with access to technology, BRF and PDF reader files of this handbook are available on the museum website.
When visiting the exhibit in person, patrons can follow the footsteps (in 3-D) of tyrannosaurs and ankylosaurs, see beautifully preserved marine fossils and meet the BC-born and bred Buster, the reigning resident ferrisaurus.
Celebrating our braille transcribers on 06/06
By Daphne Hitchcock, BLC President
June 6 is an important date: "06-06", a date to acknowledge a group of professionals who often don't get to share the limelight - braille transcribers.
The skill-set of this very select group of professionals is second to none; not only do they demonstrate proficiency in UEB and other braille codes, but they also show remarkable creativity in the preparation of tactile graphics. Their qualifications often include certification in multiple braille codes and knowledge of braille production software, complex graphics production software, as well as the use of embossers and other specialized equipment.
During my working days as a TSVI (teacher of students who have visual impairments), I had the privilege of working closely with several braille transcribers. Countless times, these champions of braille and tactile graphic production, provided perfect braille copy for my students in lightning speed - ensuring that the students could participate along with their peers in their classroom assignments. Often this was no easy feat, especially considering that students may have several teachers each producing resources without regard to the assignments being generated by their colleagues.
Braille transcribers also work outside of the school system - converting documents from print to braille for government sectors, financial institutions, health agencies, restaurants, utility providers, library services and others. Public and private agencies who require braille copy, each expect quality accessible braille copy that adheres to high standards, for the people they represent. Braille transcribers are there for them, producing and formatting braille files and hardcopy braille documents, with attention to detail, diligence and high professional standards. Where would we be without them?
Whether you are a braille reader, a parent, a TSVI or a professional working in the field, please take time to acknowledge the braille transcriber(s) in your community on June sixth.
Come join us in this shout-out, "Hooray for our braille transcribers - #6DotsStrong!" - Follow BLC @BrlLitCan on Twitter and the hashtag #6DotsStrong!"
The Six-Dot Security Method
By Rhianna McGregor Hajzer
"That sounds like a fun weekend." I spun around in my chair, not having realized that my desk partner was peering over my shoulder at my latest text message. I turned my phone off and never took it out during Philosophy 101 again. I wondered then how I could maintain my privacy yet still text, write, game and do all the things a normal university student did on their phone.
Braille is the answer I wish I had then and am thankful to have now.
As a VoiceOver user, I've found that the way I communicate through audio has made me a curiosity to be deconstructed by the sighted community. How can I understand it at that speed, they ask? It sounds like it's talking under water. My personal texts have become a puzzle to solve for the nosy -- under the guise of trying to understand my accessibility needs, of course. They aren't snooping... they're learning. But when a disabled person's privacy is so blatantly disrespected, there must be other measures that can be taken to protect it.
Braille connects all the dots [pardon the totally intentional pun]. As a tactile reading method, braille can only be read by one person at a time. Braille displays and notetakers are discreet, taking up no more space than a laptop or mobile phone, depending on the model. They're quiet and often go unnoticed in settings such as classrooms, church services, or community events. Connecting a display via Bluetooth to a phone [while also learning to toggle the screen on and off] offers the perfect means of preserving privacy and agency.
It is for me. With my QBraille XL braille display, I can take notes during church and Bible study. I can read, write, play games, text with friends, keep up with family and participate in my community on my terms in a way that works for my needs. It's fast, efficient and private. Of course, a major caveat is the price of many of these devices which often range in the thousands. However, there is a push for more affordable devices and they are starting to appear on the market which brings much hope for the future.
But with much of the blindness community turning to audio -- VoiceOver, TalkBack, screenreaders such as JAWS, NVDA and others -- as their primary means of communication, the loss of one's privacy cannot be considered too carefully. Technology is invaluable but we must learn to use it to our advantage. With lists abounding of security measures to keep our personal information private, there's one that has been all but forgotten, and for the blind, should be at the top -- braille.
By Kim Kilpatrick, BLC Vice President
In April, the Braille Promotions committee of BLC was delighted to welcome Dr. Judy Dixon to present for us on the slate and stylus. She led us through a fascinating discussion about the history of the slate and stylus, its benefits and uses, and described for us some of the many slates in her vast collection. I was particularly envious that she had the opportunity to write with Louis Braille's very first original slate when visiting his museum in France: La Maison Natale de Louis Braille.
We thank Judy for her wonderful presentation which will be available with transcript, recording, and notes on our web site very soon. We all agreed we would not be without our trusty slates and hope that all new and lifelong braille users take the time to learn slate and stylus.
This workshop is part of the series of bimonthly workshops that BLC offers to members of the braille community, including experienced braille users, teachers, parents and anyone else with an interest in braille. Have a topic you'd like us to consider for a future workshop? Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In early May, our adult braille zoomers had a lively discussion about braille around the house. Where do you find it? How can you use it? We covered everything from braille in our gardens, to labeling kitchen items, appliances, and food, to labeling CDs, credit cards, clothing and other items. We talked about how we can keep items organized with braille in our workshops and for our crafts. We talked about brailling addresses and contacts, and braille labels for playing games and cards. Even if you can just read a little braille, labelling helps you get things done, stay organized and independent, and is fun too. Labeling things in braille helps keep us reading, organized, and more efficient around the house and beyond.
While the Braille Zoomers program is taking a break during the summer months, you can always write to us at email@example.com if you would like to join our listserv for adult braille learners and stay tuned for the announcement of the next get together in September.
Encore disponible : Financement pour aider à l'acquisition ou à la production de livres en braille de langue française pour enfants
Grâce à de nombreux dons généreux, Littératie braille Canada (LbC) est heureux de faciliter l'accès aux livres en braille français et en imprimé-braille pour les enfants partout au Canada. BLC remboursera aux demandeurs le coût des livres achetés pour enfants en braille français abrégé ou non abrégé. Les demandes seront examinées et les décisions concernant le montant du remboursement seront prises au cas par cas, selon la disponibilité des fonds.
- Ce programme est offert aux élèves partout au Canada, jusqu'à la sixième année inclusivement.
- L'élève doit être un lecteur de braille ou être en train d'apprendre le braille.
- La priorité sera accordée aux élèves francophones.
Pour faire une demande, voir le Programme de remboursement des livres en braille français pour tous les détails !
A Note From Your ICEB Rep
By Jen Goulden, ICEB Representative
The 8th General Assembly of the International Council on English Braille (ICEB) will be taking place next year. The ICEB Executive Committee is still in the process of finalizing the date and location, so stay tuned for more details!
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.
Access to information at academic/scientific conferences: A survey of interest to braille users
Are you an individual who is blind, low vision, or deafblind/dual sensory impaired? Have you attended a scholarly conference or meeting in the past 10 years? If so, you are invited to participate in an online survey which gathers experiences related to the accessibility of scholarly conferences and meetings for attendees with visual impairments. This study is being conducted by a team of researchers (listed below).
In this research study, scholarly conferences and meetings refer to academic conferences and scientific meetings in any field of study.
To participate, you should be:
- 18 years of age or older
- Blind, low vision, deafblind or have a dual sensory impairment
- Have attended at least one scholarly conference or meeting in the past 10 years
- Able to understand English, French or Spanish (one of the survey languages)
Postsecondary students, trainees, faculty members and researchers with vision impairments in all fields of study and at all levels are encouraged to participate. The survey is expected to take approximately 30 minutes to complete.
You also have the option to enter a draw to win one of four Amazon gift cards each valued at $50 Canadian.
To learn more or to participate, visit https://concordia.yul1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_dnDtXmdEErIe0u2?Q_lang=EN
For questions, write to email@example.com.
- Natalina Martiniello, Ph.D., CVRT (Lead Researcher)
- Aaron P. Johnson, Ph.D.
- L. Penny Rosenblum, Ph.D.
- Walter Wittich, PhD FAAO CLVT
- JR Rizzo, M.D.
- Yueh Hsun Wu, Ph.D.
- Mahadeo Sukhai, Ph.D.
- Bonnielin Swenor, Ph.D., M.P.H. (Principal Investigator)
Social Media Links
Here are a few of the items we have posted on our social media platforms in recent weeks.
- The BrailleDoodle Kickstarter Project: https://www.pathstoliteracy.org/the-brailledoodle-kickstarter-project/
- Braillists Foundation - Braille for Beginners On Demand Office Hours + More News and Events: http://www.braillists.org
- Braille Literacy Canada: Visit http://www.brailleslates.org to learn all about the many slates out there, including how to write interpoint with a slate! Thank you to Dr. Judy Dixon for this fascinating presentation.
- Demo of the DotPad Braille Graphics Tablet and Braille display: http://davidwoodbr.podbean.com