January 9, 2020
Embracing Braille group member Kelly Sapergia shared his experience on learning braille in a small school setting.
- American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults offers free braille calendars to blind children and adults. Limit of 3 per request. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (410) 659-9315.
- Find books on braille music on NLS's website.
- Find books on braille music on the National Braille Press website or call (617) 266-6160.
January 2, 2020
This week we celebrated World Braille Day, which is held annually on January 4 to commemorate Louis Braille's birthday. We discussed braille literacy, and how learning braille has impacted our daily lives.
- About Louis Braille and the Braille System from World Braille Foundation
- World Blind Union's Statement for World Braille Day - January 2020
- What is World Braille Day? from BrailleWorks
December 19, 2019
Hadley Learner Allen Kmiotek, and other group participants, shared tips on how to increase finger sensitivity, an important part of reading tactile braille.
December 12, 2019
Hadley Learning Expert Elyse Heinrich presented this week on games available in braille. The group shared their favorites and learned some new ones!
- Uno Braille from Target
- Plastic Dice with Raised Dots from The Braille Superstore
- Braille Playing Cards from The Braille Superstore
- Adaptive Chinese Checkers Board Game from Amazon
- Jim Kitchen Mega Games for the blind
- Adaptive Dreidel Game
Online Games and Smartphone Game Apps:
- Blindfold Games for iPhone, iPhone or iPod
- Blind Games from Omninet - free computer games for sighted, vision-impaired and blind players.
- GMA Games - free computer games, including dice-rolling program
- BlindGames.com offers 40 free accessible games
December 5, 2019
This week we discussed many of the changes that Unified English Braille (UEB) brought from English Braille American Edition (EBAE).
- Overview of Changes from Current Literary Braille to UEB from Braille Authority of North America (BANA)
- International Council on English Braille (ICEB)
- UEB Online Accessible Braille training. Note: Any North American student taking this literary UEB course should be aware that the formatting rules follow Australia's rules, not the Braille Authority of North America's rules. A new training course for UEB Introductory Mathematics has been added. It is 10 lessons and covers what an elementary school child might encounter. A 10-lesson UEB Extension Mathematics course is planned for later in 2019 and is intended to cover the symbols and expressions encountered in high school.
- Braille 3 of 3: Introduction to UEB (Unified English Braille) YouTube video from The Maryland School for the Blind
November 21, 2019
This week's discussion was an open-ended question and answer session. We discussed sending materials through Free Matter for the Blind, as well as sharing tips on correct hand positioning.
November 14, 2019
Katie Malloy, an Outreach Librarian at the Wisconsin Talking Books and Braille Library shared information on the National Library Service (NLS) and Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD) services.
- National Library Service: find your state supporting library online or call 1-888-657-7323. Application is available online or over the phone. You will need to be certified by competent authority to verify disability.
- Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD)
- NLS Talking Book Topics Bi-monthly Catalog
- Foreign Language Materials from NLS
- LearningAlly is a resource for academic textbooks and professional manuals. Phone: 1-800-221-4792
- Bookshare for instructional materials
- Information about theMarrakesh Treaty
November 7, 2019
Hadley Learning Expert Elyse Heinrich and Learning Designer Diane O'Neill presented this week on Tactile American Sign Language (ASL).
- Deaf Blind Resource List, updated as of November 2019 (Word document)
- Definition of Deaf-Blindness from National Center on Deaf-Blindness
- What is American Sign Language? from the National Association of the Deaf
- ASL Linguistics
- How Pro-Tactile American Sign Language (PTASL) is changing the conversation (article and video)
- Center for Deaf Blind Persons, Inc.
- Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths & Adults (HKNC)
- DeafBlind Eligibility from the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired
- Large Print Caption Phones from CapTel
- What is a TTY?
- 711 for Telecommunications Relay Service
- About the Orbit Chat Communcation System for use with their braille display and smartphone or tablet
American Sign Language in Movies and TV Shows from Cultura Colectiva +
- The Shape of Water: film, deaf woman makes contact with a fish-man through sign language
- A Quiet Place: horror film, deaf actress has to survive with her family in complete silence
- The Big Bang Theory: TV show, one character dates a deaf girl and learns sign to communicate
- How I Met your Mother: TV show, characters use ASL in story about dating a new person
- The Silence: film, animals hunt humans by sound, so the story uses ASL to communicate and survive
- Pretty Little Liars: final season, has a deaf actress on show
- La Famille Belier: French film, most all of the family members are deaf
- Switched at Birth: show about teens daily life, with all the drama, ups and downs Hollywood can include
- Miami Medical: film, a deaf boy comes into ER, doctors must find a way to find out what's wrong and fast
- A Silent Voice: an animated film with deaf characters
October 17, 2019
Hadley Learner Darrin Cheney presented on making braille holiday gifts and cards. He also shared how to mail items using Free Matter for the Blind.
September 26, 2019
This week's discussion was an open-ended question and answer session. The group discussed how to use braille displays, how to access braille reading material, and how to help study your braille contractions.
- National Library Service (NLS) - Phone: (888) 657-7323
September 19, 2019
It's never too early to start shopping for the holidays! This week, we discussed the usability and accessibility of braille in holiday gifts. We also shared ideas of where to buy these holiday gifts, from a variety of organizations and crafters.
Resources shared during the presentation:
- American Printing House for the Blind sells braille books, braille/print jewelry making kits, braille and large print art calendars, alphabet cards, and teaching materials. Phone: (800) 223-1839
- Braille Design sells jewelry, dog tags, charms, and t-shirts. No phone number, but you can email email@example.com.
- Braille Superstore sells books, games, clothes, greeting cards, wristbands, and more. Phone: (800) 987-1231
- Elegant Insights sells braille jewelry, zipper pulls, charms, and metal bookmarks. Phone: (702) 605-1265.
- National Braille Press sells books, magazine subscriptions, greeting cards, magnets, and jewelry. Phone: (888) 888-965-8965.
- Touched by Fantasy - Loving Touch Connection sells personalized mugs, wine glasses, tumblers, salt and pepper shakers, canisters, etc. Phone: (610) 657-9869.
Resources shared by participants:
- American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults - print/braille and braille-only books are provided free to children and adults who fill out an application, and donations are accepted. Phone: (410) 659-9315, extension 2287.
- Horizons for the Blind sells braille and large print cookbooks, books on plants and gardening, books and kits on crafts, knitting and crochet patterns as well as seasonal baking items with braille and large print instructions. They also offer braille and large print books on poetry, medical tips, and household hints. Phone: (815) 444-8800.
- Lutheran Braille Workers provides free, faith-based materials in braille, large print, and audio. Phone: (800) 925-6092.
- Seedlings Braille Books for Children - Their primary focus is braille books. Choose from UEB and EBAE formats. Books are available in Grades One and Two; with and without pictures, depending on grade level. They also have braille shirts, totes, jewelry, flashcards, playing cards, and alphabet blocks. Phone: (734) 427-8552.
- Two Blind Brothers - Primarily sells apparel, but has some braille jewelry. Phone: (917) 722-6284.
September 5, 2019
Mike Hudson, director of the Museum of the American Printing House for the Blind, presented on the history of braille, from 1784 to the modern day, and why we still use it.
- American Printing House for the Blind Home Page
- Museum of the American Printing House for the Blind
- News from NLS on the availability of braille displays in the future.
- Cubarithm Grid from APH, which can be used to set up mathematical problems.
August 29, 2019
This week's discussion was an open-ended question and answer session. The group shared several great resources for braille labelers and tips on learning dot spacing and alignment.
August 22, 2019
We discussed the limitations and opportunities you might encounter when it comes to your braille reading proficiency.
August 15, 2019
Dennis Sellers led a demonstration on creating a braille drawing of a sailboat. Keep a braille sheet and slate and stylus, or your braille writer, handy while you listen.
- "So What About Drawing?" - Instructions for Drawing with your braillewriter (PDF format) by Marie Porter, Published and produced by the Guild for the Blind (now known as Second Sense) in Chicago, IL
- Braille drawing instructions from Paths to Literacy
August 8, 2019
Hadley Learning Expert Linn Sorge presented this week, along with three other musicians, to talk about braille music.
- How to Read Braille Music by Bettye Krolick
- National Braille Press Music Resources
- Music Education Network for The Visually Impaired (MENVI)
- Music materials from NLS BARD
- Braille Music Division of NLS: Call 800-424-8567
- Braille Music Resources from the National Federation of the Blind
Contact Hadley Learning Expert Linn Sorge at firstname.lastname@example.org
July 25, 2019
This week's discussion was an open-ended question and answer session. The group shared many great resources for incorporating more practice into your day.
Sources of Braille Books and Magazines:
- National Library Service for the Blind produces books and magazines in uncontracted and contracted braille. Call 888-NLS-READ (888-657-7323)
- National Federation of the Blind publishes the Braille Monitor in contracted braille. Call (410) 659-9314
- American Council of the Blind publishes the Braille Forum in contracted braille. Call (800) 424-8666
- American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults sponsors a braille book sharing program.
- National Braille Press produces Syndicated Columnists Weekly ($24), and a women's magazine, Our Special ($15), in contracted braille. A catalog of titles in both uncontracted and contracted braille is also available. Call (800) 548-7323 ext. 520
- Seedlings Braille Books for Children produces books in uncontracted and contracted braille. Call (734) 427-8552
June 27, 2019
This week's discussion was an open-ended question and answer session. We also paid tribute to Helen Keller for her 139th birthday.
To commemorate Helen Keller's 139th birthday on June 27, here is a letter from Helen Keller to the National Braille Press founder, Francis Ierardi.
June 13, 2019
This week we discussed the hypothetical: what if Louis Braille had not become blind?
This week we talked about Louis Braille and braille literacy. More information about Louis Braille.
Braille Literacy Statistics:
The American Printing House for the Blind polls each state for data on children between the ages of 4 and 21. Their results are alarming, it is estimated that 60,400 students are attending public schools or public ran programs. Here is a breakdown of the literacy percentages for these children:
- 34.8% of students are identified as non-readers
- 9.2% of students are defined as auditory readers
- 18.3% of students are pre-readers (learning the reading basics)
- 29.2% of students are defined as print readers
- 8.5% are identified as Braille readers
Contributed by Michelle Boyd. Source: BrailleWorks
Notes from Sheila Gunn on what would have happened if Louis Braille had not become blind.
May 23, 2019
This week we talked about the role of braille embossers in promoting braille.
May 16, 2019
Let's talk about common braille errors that can occur in reading and writing.
This week we talked about common errors that can occur in reading and writing braille.
- Research study by Vassilis Argyropoulos and Vassilios Papadimitriou:
Braille Reading Accuracy of Students Who Are Visually Impaired: The Effects of Gender, Age at Vision Loss, and Level of Education
- Braille: The System of Dot Distance and Alignment
Word Document by Hadley Learning Expert Vileen Shah
May 9, 2019
Let's talk about the usability and affordability of Braille writers.
April 18, 2019
How can braille pen technology enhance your independence? Speaker Darrin Cheney will join us for this discussion.
Embracing Braille group participant Darrin Cheney led the conversation this week to talk about the BraillePen and how this technology enhances your independence! Here's a quick note from Darrin:
I set two goals when I decided to learn braille with Hadley: read and write without sight; and read web-braille books. While I was taking Braille Literacy 3 & 4, I researched web-braille and reading electronic files with a refreshable braille display. I purchased a BraillePen refreshable braille display and an iDevice to create a braille notetaker that would enhance my independence.
The BraillePen is an ultra-portable braille refreshable display - about the same size as a 1 inch thick, 4 X 6 notecard. A BraillePen pairs perfectly with your iDevice, smartphone, or computer via BlueTooth. It has the familiar Perkins style, 6 braille keys to enter text either in uncontracted or contracted braille; a Space button, a Control button, and an Alt button to perform various functions; two navigation keys to pan the braille left and right; and a joystick to navigate and to select items.
A refreshable braille display has cells where pins raise and lower depending on what text you are reading. An electronic braille page has 40 cells per line and 25 lines per page. The BraillePen has 12 cells. As you press pan left or right, the BraillePen will refresh the display. An integrated cursor routing system allows you to select and move your cursor to a particular cell which is desireable for writing and editing text. You can set the display input or output text in either uncontracted or contracted braille depending on your skill level.
I use my iPhone with VoiceOver - the integrated Apple accessible technology software built into the operating system - to control my BraillePen. I can keep my iPhone in my Pocket, and use the BraillePen without someone listening in. At a doctor visit, I can send a text message to my wife, check my calendar, read my notes, or even search for information. At home or on the go, I can also write email, articles, or that first novel. Plus, I can also read any text on a web page, iBook, .PDF file, or from any app.
Web-braille is an electronic file that is translated into braille with special software like Duxbury. These web braille or .BRF files are displayed on your device. Both NLS and BookShare have thousands of braille books you can download and read if you have an account. NLS uses the BARD: The Braille and Audio Reading Download system. I use the BARD Mobile iOS app from NLS to download web braille books on my iPhone and read them on my BraillePen.
The BraillePen 12 Touch sells for $995 and you can buy it direct from Harpo in Poland. There are other similar braille displays for around $1,000-$1,500. You'll spend more if you add cells and other features. Take some time to research and talk to other braille display users before you spend your cash.
In conclusion, I like using my BraillePen and the independence it provides. It allows me to be literate where I can read and write effectively by touch and access thousands of books. The BraillePen is a good place to start for new braille users wanting to learn more about accessible electronic braille.
Content shared during discussions is for general information purposes only. We encourage you to thoroughly consider if any resource or suggestion is a good fit for you. The inclusion of links does not imply a recommendation or endorsement. The opinions expressed by the participants are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Hadley.