Programs & Services
Newsletter - November 2018
In This Issue
- Message from the President (Natalie Martiniello, BLC President)
- Braille is ...
- Helping Santa Deliver Braille Letters: A T-Base Tradition (Cassandra Peterson)
- Report on the 2018 CNIB Braille Conference (Kim Kilpatrick, BLC Secretary)
- CELA Braille Services Update (Lindsay Tyler, Senior Manager, CELA)
- Titres en impression relief et en braille français (Rebecca Blaevoet (BLC Director) and Emmanuel Blaevoet)
- Braille Transcription Free of Charge! (CNIB Brailleroom)
- UEB Christmas Trees? (Jen Goulden, Past President)
- Braille and Technology Together: Braille Screen Input in iOS (Ashley Eve Shaw Galbraith)
- Social Media News Links
Message from the President
By Natalie Martiniello, BLC President
Dear BLC friends,
"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world."
This is a quote by Anne Frank that often comes to mind when I observe a gesture - even a small one - that has an impact on someone else. When a hundred small gestures take place at once, then each one contributes to the end result - which is positive change of some kind. And surprisingly, sometimes there are trickle down effects that end up having positive impacts in ways one could not have imagined.
I am a firm believer that few things are "impossible" if you dream big enough, remain committed, and collaborate with the talented and equally passionate people around you.
Just over four months ago, BLC embarked upon a quite ambitious goal for a small volunteer-run organization - Raise $6,500 by November 30th, and a private donor would match every dollar. With this amount in hand, we would have enough to establish a permanent endowment to offer the Edie Mourre scholarship on an annual basis to those pursuing careers as braille transcribers and educators.
Today, as that campaign draws to a close, we have not only met that goal, but have surpassed it. This is a reflection of what is possible when we come together. With $14,000, the Edie Mourre fund will be self-sustaining for the years to come. What a wonderful legacy to Edie Mourre who committed so much of her time to the braille community, and what a wonderful example of how many small gestures could lead to a lasting wave!
The BLC board would like to thank every individual, both within and outside the organization, who supported this initiative in different ways. We would also like to thank two of our corporate members - T-Base Communications for donating $300 and Crawford Technologies for donating $2,500, ensuring that we'd speed through that finish line with a great big triple dot six!
I mentioned trickle down effects. In addition to raising funds, the campaign served as a powerful public education tool. The events held as a consequence educated members of the general public who, beforehand, new little or absolutely nothing at all about blindness and braille. After our storytelling fundraiser in Montreal (performed by our fabulous board Secretary, Kim Kilpatrick) we received a letter from someone who had attended our show and said that they had learned so much about braille, equal access and literacy for people who are blind. These moments are great triumphs - because every time we tackle misconceptions, we are chipping away at the inaccuracies that may exist about blindness, and which sometimes lead to questions like "is braille really important, anyway?" A few more people out there can now answer - Yes, of course it is! Right alongside us.
So, as we approach the holidays, the BLC board would like to thank all of you for your commitment and dedication - and may this serve as a reminder of what is possible when we come together!
You will find many treasures in the coming pages. Among them, T-Base tells us about their partnership with Santa himself and how blind children can receive a letter in braille from Santa this holiday season. Tactile Vision Graphics shares with us their French braille resources for children. Jen Goulden, Past President, tackles another transcription conundrum. Kim Kilpatrick, Secretary, gives us a recap of the 2018 CNIB Braille Conference. Over the past month, we've asked members to tell us what words and thoughts come to mind when they hear the word "braille". The collection of responses is found in this issue, and the power of literacy rings true in every word!
Finally, remember that BLC runs on a calendar year from January 1st to December 31st, which means it is soon time to renew your membership. To learn more about membership options (annual, lifetime and corporate) and member benefits, visit our website at www.brailleliteracycanada.ca or write to us at email@example.com. Members who are due for renewal can expect to receive an invoice from PayPal in the coming days to make the process easy and painless.
From the entire BLC board to you, happy holidays! Here's to another year of endless possibilities.
President, Braille Literacy Canada
Braille is ...
We've asked BLC members and friends to complete the sentence "braille is...". Here is what they had to say!
...Independence (Tammy, braille reader)
...An excellent tool (Walter, Low Vision Therapist/Researcher)
...Fun to read in the dark under the covers so I don't get cold! (Steph, adult braille learner)
...A necessity (Chantal, braille reader)
...rough! (Albert, blind technology trainer)
...magical (Kim, braille reader)
...A true "feeling" of beauty (Veena, Low Vision Therapist)
...Literacy (Elizabeth, braille reader)
...fun! I like playing braille bingo and braille memory games! (Ainsley, Grade 3)
...The best way to teach and learn!
...The best way to help me learn
...Useful on elevators, money and medication (Ahmad, ESL student)
...Reading, writing and math
...Helping (Santiago, ESL Student)
...The best way for blind people to study
...An international language for blind people
...Like a secret code! (I think you're smarter if you can read braille, because not everyone on the street can read Braille!) (Fatlum, ESL student)
...the gateway to Middle Earth, Narnia, Hogwarts, Regency England, Green Gables ... and so much more! (Jen, lifelong braille reader: so many books, so little time!)
...a lifetime of memories of storybooks, campfires, bedtimes, make-believing and library adventures (Natalie, lifelong braille reader)
...what print is to you: a door and a window to everything!
...B - Believing
R - Reaching
A - Achieving
I - Imagining
L - Limitless
L - Learning
E - Empowering
Helping Santa Deliver Braille Letters: A T-Base Tradition
By Cassandra Peterson
Editor's Note: T-Base is a corporate member of BLC and Jessica Blouin sits on the BLC board as our T-Base representative. This article is reprinted with permission and can be found on the T-Base website at https://www.tbase.com/helping-santa-deliver-braille-letters-a-t-base-tradition/?fbclid=IwAR3KkhcZpniRS_3fqjkYemW5Th_av0GfFEi5oqr5LTKjvxAQe30UvpJFpo4.
Cassie Peterson, Marketing Coordinator at T-Base Communications, sat down with Jessica Blouin, Manager of Transcription Services, to talk about an initiative near and dear to our hearts here at T-Base: the Santa Letter Program. Every year we help Santa deliver braille letters to children who are blind or have low vision.
C: How long has T-Base been participating in the Santa Letter Program?
J: T-Base has been participating in the Santa Letter Program for over a decade.
C: Please tell us about the process.
J: Every year in the fall we receive a call from Kris Kringle himself. He tells us how many children he needs to respond to in braille, plus how many of those need a response in English and how many need a response in French. Santa provides us with his print response to each child's letter, and then our Transcription team gets to work! As is the case with all documents we transcribe into braille (or other alternate formats), Santa's letters go through rigorous quality assurance checks to ensure nothing is amiss and that the transcribed documents meet Santa's high expectations. Finally, we help pack up the letters for Santa to deliver.
C: By which date should children send their letter to Santa?
J: Children should send their letters to Santa by the 10th of December. (If you send one after, he might not have enough time to respond before the big day!)
C: What address should children send their letters to?
J: Children should send their letters to Santa Claus at his North Pole address:
North Pole HOH OHO
C: Why is it important that T-Base participates in this program every year?
J: For children, receiving a letter from Santa Claus is a great joy during the holiday season, and it is one all children should have the opportunity to experience. I do remember how happy I was as a child receiving a letter back from Santa. Collaborating with Santa on this project is important to T-Base because we get to help ensure children who are blind or have low vision experience the same joy their sighted family members and friends experience. This is such a wonderful program.
C: What feedback have you received on this program?
J: T-Base has always received positive feedback on the Santa Letter Program. We have heard from both parents and teachers that children are always so happy and thankful to receive a braille letter from Santa in the mail.
C: In what other ways is T-Base committed to ensuring that people who are blind or low vision have access to information?
J: At T-Base, we believe that equal access to information is key to literacy and independent living, regardless of whether that information is in a simple letter from Santa Claus or a complex math textbook. Everyone has the same rights, and we are committed to ensuring that organizations have the resources they need to provide their customers who are blind or low vision with equal access to information. We produce statements, documents and textbooks in a wide range of alternate formats: accessible PDF, e-Text, audio, braille and reflowed large print. We also give $2,000 every year to one or two post-secondary students who are blind or low vision through the T-Base-AEBC Scholarship Program (in support of an accessible education).
C: What are some other holiday traditions at T-Base?
J: Typically, we host a potluck lunch at the office and Secret Santa gift exchange. This year we will have an ugly holiday sweater fashion show.
C: Wonderful! Thanks for letting our readers know about the program and T-Base's involvement in it. Something else our readers might be interested in hearing about is your favourite memory from a T-Base holiday gathering.
J: My favourite memory from a T-Base holiday gathering is when Scott Bagshaw, Production Manager, dressed up as Santa Claus, sang karaoke and handed out candy canes to the team.
C: Before we wrap up, what is on your wish list this holiday season?
J: A puppy! Besides that, I know everyone here at T-Base wishes our readers a safe and happy holiday.
Report on the 2018 CNIB Braille Conference
By Kim Kilpatrick, BLC Secretary
The 2018 Braille conference took place for the first time at the Ontario Science Centre on October 18 and 19, 2018.
This was a wonderful venue and it was nice to have the braille conference in a public place where the many visitors saw people moving around with canes, guide dogs, and lots of braille in hand.
As usual, there were many workshops on a multitude of topics and several BLC board members presented on research, braille and technology, and more. Among these talks Past-President Jen Goulden and I (BLC Secretary) presented on the use of refreshable braille with iOS, President Natalie Martiniello presented the preliminary results from her qualitative study on the experiences of older adults who have learned braille, and director Rebecca Blaevoet presented on Tactile Vision Graphics. BLC board members also had the opportunity to circulate our new print-braille BLC bookmarks - available upon request!
The AMI Audio show Kelly and Company broadcasted live from the conference on both days and several BLC members were featured on this show.
As usual, one highlight for me was hearing the winners of the braille creative writing contest for students in elementary and high schools from across Canada.
I was excited to touch for the first time, the first ever multi-line braille display (The Canute) which may be on the market within the next year or so.
As usual, it was wonderful and heart warming to be in a room filled with others who love braille as much as we all do.
CELA Braille Services Update
By Lindsay Tyler, Senior Manager, CELA
Braille readers who receive books from the Centre for Equitable Library Access (CELA) are receiving books in a new way. Since April 2018, we emboss a fresh copy of each braille book we send. This procedure allows us to offer as many copies of each book as needed, so readers do not need to wait for others to return a book before they can receive it. Each copy we send is fresh and crisp.
Instead of sending braille books in a cloth bag, we send them in a cardboard box which can be recycled along with the book. Readers may choose to keep books, if they prefer.
Printbraille books (children's picture books with braille added) are the exception to this new system; readers must continue to return them.
The formatting of the books is different, too. Newly transcribed books are formatted as a single volume with continuous page numbers. The title will appear in the header as well as at the beginning of the book. Previously transcribed books are split into parts of about 80 pages each.
Looking forward, CELA staff are planning a new website that will bring even more books to Canadian braille readers. The new website will bring together Bookshare's braille offerings with CELA's in a single, accessible site.
The new year will also bring the opportunity to exchange books with libraries for people with print disabilities in the United States and Europe, thanks to their recent ratifications of the Marrakesh Treaty. The goal of the Marrakesh Treaty is to remove barriers so that organizations like CELA can share accessible reading materials with other similar organizations in countries who have signed the Treaty.
As we work to improve our services and offer you greater access to books and information, we hope you will let us know how we are doing. Visit our website at http://www.celalibrary.ca, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-855-655-2273.
Those who are interested can also contact CELA to subscribe to the hard copy braille version of the BLC newsletter.
Titres en impression relief et en braille français
By Rebecca Blaevoet (BLC Director) and Emmanuel Blaevoet
Note: We've received several requests lately for information on where to purchase french print-braille books. In this article, Rebecca and Emmanuel from Tactile Vision Graphics describe their French collection. We will include an English translation of this article in the January issue.
Tactile Vision Graphics Inc. a toujours eu le but de produire toutes nos ressources et en Anglais et en Français. Notre entreprise est de très petite taille, donc nous n'avons pas encore été capables de produire en Français la totalité des titres qui existent en Anglais. Il nous a fallu faire des choix au départ. Il reste encore du travail.
Pour commencer, il nous a semblé que le domaine le plus important et celui par où il fallait commencer était les ressources pour le développement des concepts: la littératie et la numératie.
Chaque livre contient un peu de texte, en braille intégral, évidemment, et une image correspondante que les enfants peuvent toucher, (et même colorier) et discuter.
Les images tactiles enseignent des concepts importants:
- Les formes de bases;
- Accorder une image avec un mot qui le décrit;
- L'orientation spatiale;
- La directionalité;
- La taille relative;
- Le commencement de l'abstraction, qui est une connaissance critique pour le développement de l'enfant et la préparation à sa vie d'adulte;
- Une représentation des choses qui sont plus difficiles à toucher en réalité (une maison par exemple)
Ainsi nous avons en catalogue un série de livres tactiles pour enfants, parmi eux « Mon Abécédaire », « Mon Livre des Chiffres » et « Discret Comme Une Souris: un Petit Livre des Similarités »
Au delà notre collection de livres pour enfants, nous avons aussi plusieurs cartes de vœux pour toutes les occasions et des livres à colorier avec les titres en impression relief et en braille français.
Nous vous invitons à visiter notre site web, chercher le "shop" et découvrir l'étendue de nos publications.
Vous pouvez aussi bien sûr nous appeler pour poser des questions ou pour placer une commande au (226) 221-8849
Braille Transcription Free of Charge!
By CNIB Brailleroom
We're all familiar with the adage "Nothing in life is free"; but the CNIB Brailleroom can braille just about anything, free of charge, for CNIB clients and their families.
- Letters and greeting cards
- Household labels
- Music scores
- Course materials
- Prescription/medical information
Note that this is not an exhaustive list.
Email your text in a Word document to: email@example.com
Mail or drop off your printed materials:
CNIB Brailleroom (Room 104)
1929 Bayview Avenue, Toronto, ON M4G 3E8
UEB Christmas Trees?
By Jen Goulden, Past President
It is that time of year again, and it really is beginning to look a lot like Christmas where I live. You might be wondering how I could possibly make a connection between Christmas trees and UEB, but whether you prefer to decorate a pine, spruce or Douglas fir, they are all conifers ... or coniferous.
So here's the question for transcribers: Are they con-i-fer-ous or co-ni-fer-ous trees?
Section 10.6.1 of the UEB rule book states the following: Use the lower groupsign for "be", "con" or "dis" when the letters it represents form the first syllable of a word (such as concept or control ... or contraction). According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary the first syllable of both conifer and coniferous is "co". This means that the "con" contraction cannot be used.
I think the main cause of the confusion is that DBT does use "con" in these words. Ironically, there was no "con" in conifer or coniferous before UEB either. This is just another example showing that not much has changed in literary braille with the update to UEB.
Of course, we could just avoid the co-nun-drum altogether by simply calling them evergreens!
Braille and Technology Together: Braille Screen Input in iOS
By Ashley Eve Shaw Galbraith
People often ask me if braille skills are still useful, given the recent development of technologically advanced accessibility solutions. There are many reasons why braille is still necessary, but some of my favorite examples are the ways in which braille and technology intersect. Braille screen input, for instance, provides touch screen users with a typing method that is both fast and efficient.
For users of Apple's iOS, Braille Screen Input has been a standard feature of the screen reader VoiceOver for several years now. The option allows users to enter text by touching the screen with the combination of fingers associated with each Braille character, in either contracted or uncontracted Braille. Accessed through the Voiceover Rotor in any text field, this option allows Braille users to type much faster than with the touch screen's qwerty keyboard. It also allows for a greater degree of discretion than the use of text dictation, and makes it possible to enter long passwords with ease and privacy. Since Unified English Braille is an available translation table, I've also been able to get a lot of practice with UEB whenever I use my iPhone.
Learning to use touch screen Braille takes a bit of initial effort. The user holds the device in landscape mode, either on a flat surface or with the screen facing outward. Touching and holding fingers on the screen will activate Explore Mode, and the device will report the corresponding combination of dots from the Braille cell. A single finger swipe to the right enters a space, a single swipe to the left erases the previous character, a two finger swipe to the left erases the previous word, and a two finger swipe to the right starts a new line. Swiping up and down after completing a word provides any alternative suggestions. After a bit of practice, the user will be able to type quickly and smoothly.
Before Braille screen input was available, I was stuck either carrying around a Bluetooth keyboard, or typing relatively slowly on the touch screen qwerty keyboard. Now I use Braille to type text messages, emails, web addresses and phone numbers. This is just one example of Braille's versatility and efficiency when combined with technology.
Social Media News Links
Social Media Links
Here are just some of the gems posted on BLC social media platforms since the last issue: Follow us on twitter or like us on Facebook for more!
Time to celebrate - the United States ratifies the Marrakesh Treaty! https://benetech.org/united-states-ratifies-marrakesh-treaty/
Brick-A-Braille teaching system - available for testing: https://robotics.benedettelli.com/braille/?fbclid=IwAR3V7N-aUd-rKLS9NOBqO5vfW8NjDMM_vsPSg8c4pE9BX6WutB1Z9BHXQYA#download
A story about introducing braille to sighted children: https://www.wvnews.com/prestoncountynews/news/read-aloud-program-incorporates-fun-into-reading/article_d9588de6-f61d-5cdd-9bb3-5438a6cb1501.html?fbclid=IwAR0syl8PYUrtygJxvm-a4R3eZtbWbRuY1VNDREVLy2YgrOqucP2ghxCkvWI
Custom-made braille cards with your personalized messages - great for the holidays! https://www.sensorysun.org/blog/send-braille-cards/?fbclid=IwAR1j9358r3brESYoBBIjO7bbGF522Zb6ozirQDSqSpFeAi07y5Zmz6vxExI
Is braille still relevant in the 21st century workplace? spoiler alert Like print, the answer is... YES!! https://www.afb.org/blog/careerconnect-blog/is-braille-useful-on-the-job/12?fbclid=IwAR3uFG1xExtQzLj4nCUZjN0PBlxGZe01G-AMRbQzB7YI4fNvhF0wmtlsgbQ
Tips for teaching braille to students with decreased tactile sensitivity: http://www.pathstoliteracy.org/blog/12-more-ideas-teaching-braille-students-decreased-tactile-sensitivity?fbclid=IwAR0XO6_SSqFDL9510HlCjG5UMStxwLA9AvM9GUaeXQp3HC1P3x33vmCOg4s
French alphabet print-braille book available through Tactile Vision Graphics: http://tactilevisiongraphics.com/product/livre-en-braille-mon-abcdaire/?fbclid=IwAR2RMKDsHCjPoQhS1a5mhph3U-bzkVWBJhcAbOWiU3jzMSc23AGblC6rpU0
The SENSEsational Alphabet Book is back in stock at Seedlings! This popular book for ages 0-5 features the English alphabet in print, braille and sign language. Kids can press the buttons to hear each letter, as well as feel and smell pictures of items starting with each letter: http://www.seedlings.org/details.php?id=1353&cat=0&search=SENSEsational&fbclid=IwAR0c0uwhFaej9mUPV0ShdVyWb9T_yqa6NNivyhnhD5Or4L5UWtOEAOIUdd8
The Bank of Canada has announced that it will begin to phase out the bank note reader program. It has been determined "that there are more modern devices that can be used to denominate bank notes". For example, did you know that all paper money in Canada has tactile markings to help blind and LowVision people identify each bill? For more information, visit: https://cnib.ca/en/news/bank-note-reader-program-and-recall?region=qc&fbclid=IwAR3B5sHXRMs28PioUSfxZ8YR1feDLF3p_tldayH_yqyHh0UlC15VhMxZ-8A
A collection of high-interest short stories from National Braille Press for adults who are learning uncontracted braille! Visit: http://www.pathstoliteracy.org/resources/short-stories-adults-learning-uncontracted-ueb?fbclid=IwAR2-MbIffsCryGdmfve9WQ-SAD1Tq1MUEC1UfnHw5Z7pl27V79MDjm81xT0