Programs & Services
Newsletter - October 2022
In This Issue
- President's Message (Daphne Hitchcock, BLC President)
- Braille Literacy Canada Endorses the Mi'kmaw Braille Code
- PRCVI and BLC team up to produce Braille Bites video series
- Upcoming workshop on October 22: Advocating for Braille
- Becoming a BLC Member or Renewing your Membership!
- A Note From Your ICEB Rep (Jen Goulden)
- Maintenant disponible : Financement pour aider à l'acquisition ou à la production de livres en braille de langue française pour enfants
- South Africa Media Release: Constitutional Court Judgment on Copyright Act a Momentous Victory for Persons who are Blind and Their Access to Books
- News From the Braille Display Users Group (Betty Nobel)
- Social Media Links
By Daphne Hitchcock, BLC President
Dear BLC Members and Friends,
September tends to be a busy month as we shift from our lazy days of summer back into routines, programming and projects. Braille Literacy Canada is no exception, throughout September we proudly posted a press release to announce the endorsement of the Mi'kmaw Braille Code (included in this newsletter as well). BLC celebrates the development of this notable achievement and its importance towards the preservation of Indigenous languages.
International Literacy Day, September 8th, was marked with the much anticipated release of the first Braille Bites video clip coordinated by the Teaching and Learning Committee chair, Adam Wilton. Stay tuned, there are many more videos to follow.
Our Zoomers' group reconvened in September. We are expanding this program to include a mentoring opportunity for our Braille Zoomers. It is not too late to register or become involved. Our thanks to Betty Nobel for taking the lead on this mentoring initiative. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
In October we are looking forward to a workshop hosted by our Braille Promotions Committee (announcement included in this issue). The panel will discuss how to advocate for braille. Read on to learn more about this important topic. Also in the month ahead, BLC will be participating in CNIB's Connecting the Dots virtual conference on October 25th. We will host a panel discussion on the importance of braille and tactile graphics, exploring access and equity in STEM.
It is literacy that brings us together, and it is specifically braille literacy that enables us to interface on a daily basis. We want to make sure you have the support to access braille, your way. Whether you are just beginning to read braille or you are a seasoned braille reader, BLC aspires to provide programming to meet your needs and support for all of our members.
Do you have questions about braille, suggestions for future workshops or do you want to share an important braille related tip? We would love to hear from you, drop us a line at email@example.com.
Braille Literacy Canada is made stronger when our members actively engage in sharing their ideas. My heartfelt thanks to our wonderful board and members who give freely of their time and expertise. Indeed, we are six dots strong.
All the best during these lovely Autumn Days.
President, Braille Literacy Canada
Braille Literacy Canada Endorses the Mi'kmaw Braille Code
A French translation follows
September 19, 2022 - Braille Literacy Canada, the governing braille authority of Canada, is pleased to announce the endorsement of the Mi'kmaw Braille Code.
Atlantic Provinces Special Education Authority (APSEA) certified braille transcriber, Christine Muise worked in tandem with Dr. Bernie Francis, Membertou Linguist, native speaker of Mi'kmaw, and co-creator of the Francis-Smith print orthography currently used for the Mi'kmaw language to develop the Mi'kmaw Braille Code. This work was completed in consultation with Dr. Robert Englebretson, Carol Begay Green and Justin M.H. Salisbury.
The Mi'kmaw braille code in its current form has the support and approval from both Dr. Bernie Francis and Chief Terry Paul. Chief Terry Paul, OC, the elected chief and CEO Membertou declared, "Creating a braille code that represents our language plays an important role in communication and accessibility to Mi'kmaw cultural education for future generations of Indigenous students." Membertou is an urban and progressive Mi'kmaw community located on Unama'ki - Cape Breton Island.
The code is meant to ensure that all blind readers of Mi'kmaw have a standardized, consistent braille code available to them and will be made available to transcribers across North America. We commend Christine Muise on her contribution to the development of this braille code.
BLC celebrates this notable achievement and the important work towards the preservation of Indigenous language being accomplished.
To download copies of the Mi'kmaw Braille Code standards, please check out our Standards page on the web site.
Le 19 septembre 2022 - Littératie braille Canada, l'autorité canadienne du braille, a le plaisir d'annoncer l'approbation du code braille micmac.
Christine Muise, transcriptrice de braille certifiée par la Commission de l'enseignement spécial des provinces de l'Atlantique (CESPA), a travaillé en collaboration avec Bernie Francis, Ph. D., linguiste de Membertou, locuteur natif du micmac et cocréateur de l'orthographe Francis-Smith actuellement utilisée pour la langue micmaque, afin d'élaborer le code braille micmac. Ce travail a été réalisé en consultation avec Robert Englebretson, Ph. D., Carol Begay Green et Justin M.H. Salisbury.
Le code braille micmac, dans sa forme actuelle, a reçu le soutien et l'approbation de Bernie Francis et du chef Terry Paul. Le Chef Terry Paul, OC, chef élu et PDG de Membertou a déclaré : « La création d'un code braille qui représente notre langue joue un rôle important dans la communication et l'accessibilité à l'éducation culturelle micmaque pour les futures générations d'élèves autochtones. » Membertou est une communauté micmaque urbaine et progressiste située à Unama'ki, sur l'île du Cap-Breton.
Le code vise à garantir que tous les lecteurs aveugles de langue micmaque disposent d'un code braille normalisé et cohérent. Il sera mis à la disposition des transcripteurs de partout en Amérique du Nord. Nous félicitons Christine Muise pour sa contribution à l'élaboration de ce code braille.
LbC célèbre cette réalisation remarquable et l'important travail de préservation de la langue autochtone.
Pour télécharger des copies des normes du code braille mi'kmaq, veuillez consulter notre page [Normes] (https://www.brailleliteracycanada.ca/fr/braille/standards) sur le site Web.
PRCVI and BLC team up to produce Braille Bites video series
British Columbia's Provincial Resource Centre for the Visually Impaired and Braille Literacy Canada have joined forces to produce and distribute a series of short, "bite-sized" videos demonstrating simple "recipes" for activities that will help to develop early braille literacy skills for young children with visual impairments.
As of this writing, the first four videos in the series are available, and new videos will be coming each week for the rest of the year.
Videos released so far include:
- Braille Bites - Season 1 Introduction
- Paper Growth Chart - Braille Bites: Season 1 Episode 1
- Colouring Screen Board - Braille Bites: Season 1 Episode 2
- Magnet Fishing Game - Braille Bites: Season 1 Episode 3
- Magic Bag - Braille Bites: Season 1 Episode 4
Check out the playlist on PRCVI's YouTube channel for the latest videos!
Upcoming workshop on October 22: Advocating for Braille
Join a panel of experts to explore how we can advocate for braille for ourselves.
Saturday October 22nd, 2022 @ 1pm Eastern, 10am Pacific, 11am Mountain/Saskatchewan, 12pm Central, 2pm Atlantic.
This session will be recorded and live captioning will be available.
How do you get your documents and information in braille? What is the process like from the producer's side? Join us for tips and tricks and discussion.
- Jen Goulden from Crawford Technologies
- Debbie Gillespie (Past President BLC and major advocate for all things braille)
- Rob Sleath (Access for Sight Impaired Consumers)
To register and receive the Zoom call details, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org no later than October 21, 2022.
Becoming a BLC Member or Renewing your Membership!
Want to join us or are you already a member of BLC? As we approach the end of the year, the time is coming to join or renew your membership for 2023.
The easiest way is to fill out our online membership form. You can then pay online with PayPal, send an Interac email transfer, or get instructions for sending a cheque.
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 website and donate online.
If you have any questions about BLC or need any assistance, you can contact us any time at email@example.com. We always love hearing from you!
Here's to another year full of braille!
A Note From Your ICEB Rep
By Jen Goulden
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).
ICEB produces a quarterly newsletter under the excellent direction of Mary Schnackenberg of New Zealand. We invite you to subscribe to our one-way announce list by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow us on Twitter at @ICEBbraille.
Maintenant disponible : Financement pour aider à l'acquisition ou à la production de livres en braille de langue française pour enfants
An English translation follows
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 !
Thanks to many generous donations, Braille Literacy Canada (BLC) is pleased to facilitate access to French braille and print-braille books for children across Canada. BLC will reimburse applicants for the cost of books purchased for children in contracted or uncontracted French braille. Applications will be reviewed and decisions about the amount of reimbursement provided will be made on a case by case basis, subject to funding availability.
- This program is available to students across Canada, up to and including grade six.
- The student must either be a braille reader, or be in the process of learning braille.
- Priority will be given to Francophone students.
To apply, see the French Braille Book Reimbursement Program for complete details!
South Africa Media Release: Constitutional Court Judgment on Copyright Act a Momentous Victory for Persons who are Blind and Their Access to Books
BLIND SA and SECTION27 celebrate historical judgment, which finds the Copyright Act unconstitutional for unfairly discriminating against persons with visual disabilities, ending the Book Famine!
21 September 2022, Johannesburg - BLIND SA and SECTION27 celebrate the Constitutional Court's historic judgment which confirms that the Copyright Act of 1978 is unconstitutional for limiting access to reading materials in accessible formats for persons who are blind or visually impaired. This judgment vastly and immediately improves access to books in accessible formats for people who are blind. The judgment also vindicates their rights to equality, dignity, basic and further education, freedom of expression, language and participation in the cultural life of one's choice.
In a unanimous judgment written by Acting Justice David Unterhalter and delivered by Justice Jody Kollapen, the Constitutional Court found "that those with print and visual disabilities suffer from a scarcity of access to literary works that persons without these impairments do not" due to the Copyright Act, which therefore "constitutes unfair discrimination" on the basis of disability. Reflecting on the urgency of the need to accessibly formatted books, the judgment stated: "persons with print and visual disabilities should not have to wait further to secure a remedy."
The highest court in the country has therefore ordered Parliament to remedy the constitutional invalidity of the current Act within 24 months. As an interim relief the court has read-in - or included - a provision that immediately permits blind or visually impaired persons to convert books into accessible formats without requiring the authorisation of the copyright holder.
This judgment not only compels parliament to ensure that copyright legislation in South Africa provides for accessible format shifting within two years, but comprehensively affirms the rights of people living with disabilities and orders immediate relief so that they can access books in formats they can read from today.
A summary of the judgment was read out at the Constitutional Court by Justice Jody Kollapen to a gallery of elated activists from BLIND SA and SECTION27. This favourable judgment represents the culmination of years of activism from BLIND SA, SECTION27 and other partners to challenge South Africa's outdated copyright laws, which have for decades restricted access to reading materials for persons who are blind.
Jace Nair, CEO of BLIND SA, enthusiastically remarked after the judgment was delivered: "We are ecstatic that we have a judgment that provides for the exceptions that we have been advocating for so long. We would like to thank the Constitutional Court for recognising the impact this violation has had on the lives of blind and partially sighted persons for decades."
The Court categorically determined that the Copyright Act had, until now, "plainly infringed" the rights to equality, dignity, basic and further education, freedom of expression and the rights to language and to participate in the cultural life of one's choice. The paragraphs of the judgment which relate to the impact of copyright on the rights to dignity and education are particularly noteworthy:
Para 71: "... The challenge made by BLIND SA on the basis of the right to human dignity in terms of section 10 of the Constitution is well founded. Access to the vast universe of knowledge and imagination that is to be found in literary works is a condition for advancement. It also promotes an engagement with the world of ideas, and that is an important attribute of the well-being of persons. That those with print and visual disabilities should be so radically compromised in the access they enjoy to literary works by reason of the requirement of authorisation is to heap indignity upon the adversities these persons face."
Para 73: "Finally, the evidence marshalled by BLIND SA establishes that those with print and visual disabilities struggle to secure books in accessible format copies that they require for their education. Children, and especially poor children, cannot secure the textbooks they require. Others who are admitted to university cannot access the articles and books they need, a substantial impairment to the benefits of a higher education."
Prior to this landmark judgment, persons who are blind or visually disabled would have had to secure permission from copyright holders to convert books into accessible formats like braille. BLIND SA and SECTION27 took government to court for this difficult, time consuming and often costly process which created a 'Book Famine' for persons with visual disabilities and unfairly opened them up to criminal and civil liability if they converted books into accessible formats without securing permission.
One year ago, to the day, BLIND SA had their day in court to fight for access to books in accessible formats when the High Court of South Africa (Gauteng Division, Pretoria) found that the Copyright Act was unconstitutional for violating the rights of persons with disabilities. BLIND SA and SECTION27 then approached the Constitutional Court to confirm this finding of invalidity of the existing Act. On 12 May 2022, we argued for urgent changes to the Act so that persons with disabilities can easily convert books and other reading materials into formats they can read, such as braille, without needing the permission of the copyright holder.
Finding in our favour, the Constitutional Court has clarified various definitions concerning an exception to copyright for persons with disabilities and is, in effect, giving blind persons access to thousands of books with immediate effect. Our hope now is that government will follow on the lead of the Constitutional Court Judgment with all haste by finalising the Copyright Amendment Bill and ratifying the Marrakesh Treaty.
Editor of Spotlight, Marcus Low - who is blind and provided and a supporting affidavit for the case - remarked: "It is an historic judgement that will change lives by immediately improving access to books in accessible formats. The affirmation of the rights of persons with disabilities is moving and overdue. This judgment is a reminder of how the Constitution holds the better angels of our natures."
BLIND SA and SECTION27 intend to interrogate the judgment further. A more detailed analysis on the full impact of this judgment on the lives of persons who are blind or visually impaired will be released soon.
BLIND SA and SECTION27 thank our counsel in this case, Advocate Jonathan Berger, Advocate Faranaaz Veriava and Advocate Tauriq Moosa, as well as our legal advisor Dr Sanya Samtani.
This judgment continues the Constitutional Court's long history of protecting the rights of the vulnerable, and immediately grants persons with disabilities access to books in formats that they can read. This is a victory for communities of disabled persons and a vindication of many of the human rights that are central to our Constitution. The Court found that indeed, braille should be no crime, and has ended the book famine for persons who are blind or visually disabled!
You can read the Constitutional Court's judgment here.
News From the Braille Display Users Group
By Betty Nobel
I have decided to write a small piece about the Braille Display Users Group because it is very important to me. Kim Kilpatrick created this group under the umbrella of the Canadian Council of the Blind's Get Together With Technology program. Although most of us are Zoomed out, this group has continued during the summer. It is an extremely valuable resource for those of us who are using braille displays or notetakers. In between meetings, Kim shares news about braille developments like the proposed braille game console from Bristol Braille, updates to existing braille displays, podcasts about braille and more. When we meet, we talk about some of these things, but we also share tips about using braille displays for various tasks. Some members of the group have also done presentations about different displays and notetakers and their features. It doesn't matter what kind of display or notetaker you have because there will be someone in the group who knows how to use it or how to help you troubleshoot any problems.
The lower price for some braille displays and notetakers now means that more people than ever before are learning to use them. I have bookcases full of paper braille, but more and more, I am putting my fingers on electronic braille. This makes braille less bulky and I can store a lot of braille on my display to read at my leisure. Even if my display does not connect to the internet, I can connect it to my phone and have immediate access to more braille in the Books or Kindle app. I really love this!
So if you want to join a fun group of braille enthusiasts, contact Kim Kilpatrick at email@example.com. We meet on Thursdays at 2:30 Eastern time. Come and join us.
Social Media Links
Here are a few of the items we have posted on our social media platforms in recent weeks.
- Celebrate International Literacy Day and enrich your classroom library with dual media books in print and braille. Read 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/SXyZYy
- Have a braille display? Have an iPhone? Want to learn how to use one with the other? Check out the Braillists Foundation's Using Braille on iOS masterclass: https://braillists.org/media
- A key component to braille literacy is having the right tools. @BRLLITCAN's Brailler Bounce Initiative works to get unused Perkins Braillers out of dark and long-forgotten storage places and into the hands of braille users who need them and can put them to good use. Got a brailler to donate? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org