Question and Answer Session 6

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.

September 26, 2019

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Audio Transcript


Embracing Braille – Q&A Session September

Presented by Vileen Shah

September 26, 2019

Vileen S: Let's now get started with the questions related to braille and discuss each question as it comes up.

Elyse H: Great. We'll start with number 602. Can you tell us your name please?

Roderick: Roderick.

Elyse H: Okay, thanks, Roderick. Go ahead.

Roderick: I guess [inaudible], heard you mentioning something about NLS, National Library Service having a braille reader or something. I didn't really understand what it was that they were working on. Anybody know anything about that?

Elyse H: Roderick, you're talking about the NLS book service providing a braille display for braille users? It's the program?

Roderick: Oh, yes.

Elyse H: The program is not officially running but that's what they're trying to push towards.

Vileen S: Correct. It's still in the air, as I said before, so it's very likely that NLS will provide a braille display for each member. That way the cost, which is exorbitant for a braille display, will not be an issue. I think, as I heard, it's going to be a 20-cell braille display. So 20 cell is two shorter line, and there are braille displays available with 40 cells and even 80 cell. What I'm trying to say is that those who still want displays with more information in one line, they will have to buy. But at least once this 20-cell display comes out, many of us will have access to the NLS materials and will be able to read it using our real display that NLS will provide. It's very likely, it's not 100% confirmed, but it's almost certain. And hopefully by next year, we will hear something about that. That far I know. Anybody else who knows about braille display to be provided by NLS? Please share. My computer says five people know about it. Very good.

Elyse H: Right, right. Let's see. Beth, you're next in line.

Beth: I haven't heard about it but what I want to know is, just say anybody wants to purchase a book in print, could it be transcribed into braille? And who would do that? When I was in California, in the Braille Institute, they read a book on cassette, long time ago. But I was wondering if they can transcribe books in braille and that. I bet it'd be very costly. Over.

Elyse H: Great. I'm going to put that on my list to come back to, taking the-

Beth: Okay.

Elyse H: ... print book into braille. Yes. Hold onto that thought. Tammy, you're next in line.

Tammy: With the braille display from NLS, eventually when that is available to us braille readers, I think then we will also have capability of downloading the books from the internet. I think they're trying to get it that we can do it automatically ourselves in an inexpensive braille display. And I think, if I'm not correct, Congress has already changed the wording because originally, it was just ... I better not say because I don't want to get things confused. But originally, I think it was for the audio stuff that they put out with the talking books and stuff. And now there has to be a different thing passed to allow the braille displays. So I think that's where it's at or the pilot program is going on.

Elyse H: So they're working on the legislature to catch up.

Tammy: I think so.

Elyse H: Okay.

Vileen S: Okay.

Elyse H: Thanks for sharing, Tammy. Darrin, you're next on the list.

Darrin: Couple interesting tidbits. The legislation, yes, was changed to allow for braille to be added into the equipment that can be delivered. And there's currently a pilot project with the Perkins School that are testing out all of the Orbit 20 and to see what it can do, and how it could possibly work. And yes, the system is set up so that essentially, you won't need another device attached to it, that you'll be able to download BARD books directly to your braille display to be able to read them. So that's what it's all about.

A couple of other interesting tidbits is that the Orbit 20 reader is available now from APH again, but they increased the price to 695. It's available, I believe, in Canada and elsewhere for still a lower price. But the whole idea from the library service is to be able to get everything to move into a braille format that you have access to. And you currently have access and opportunity if you’d like, any of the books that you want to be transcribed or what have you, remember that you can also get books through Bookshare and some other places. Or even if you were to actually read it on an iDevice such as an iPad or an iPhone, you can then go ahead, and you can have the braille display read books from there as well. So there are other options and things available. Hopefully that helps clarify a couple things.

Vileen S: Great, great. Thank you so much, Darrin. You have wealth of information.

Elyse H: Wonderful. Thank you. Alison, you're next in line.

Alison: Okay. Now that NLS will start distributing braille displays, those of us that get Braille Book Review, which I do, now that we'll eventually be able to put books and magazines on the braille displays that will be sent out, will the issues of Braille Book Review be put on these braille displays too or what?

Elyse H: So you're asking would the braille books be put on the display as well?

Alison: What I'm asking is now the NLS will be distributing braille displays for us to put our braille books on that we get from Braille Book Review, will the issues of the Braille Book Review magazine be put on the braille displays the NLS will be distributing?

Elyse H: Oh, good question.

Vileen S: You know, that's really a question for NLS, but I can guess that yes, it will be. Because any information that NLS wants to share should be then available on a braille display, because that's the whole purpose, to have you connected with NLS services. I know we don't have so much information unless we get somebody from NLS to talk about these things, and I'm going to try. I'm going to try, but my concern, I don't know, I don't want to say so much, but you can understand with my nearly 175 students and 13 courses I teach, calling, reaching people, getting confirmation, it's a little time consuming. And sometimes I don't care how many hours I spend for my job, but even then, sometimes I become limited. So I'm going to try my best. Okay?

Alison: Okay. Perfect.

Vileen S: Thank you. Now, let's see next one.

Elyse H: Okay, thanks Alison. Tammy, you're next in line.

Tammy: I want to thank the person that gave all the info update with Perkins and stuff, and what's actually fully going on with the braille displays, with piloting them and stuff. Also, maybe a suggestion, I don't know if Judy Dixon could speak from NLS. That's a possibility for a person to speak for NLS.

Elyse H: I will definitely jot the name down. Thank you.

Vileen S: Okay, we'll try. Who's next?

Elyse H: Okay. I think we're circling back to Beth. She had a question about those print to braille. So Beth, you want to refresh your memory?

Beth: Well, it's about Bookshare, what Darrin said about Bookshare. It already says something about download, get books in braille or something. You must already be able to put them on braille display. I know he said something about, eventually you can do that. But when I go on a Bookshare, there's a link that says get books in braille or order books in braille or something.

Vileen S: Okay. Yeah. Let's see if anybody has to add to this, what you asked there because I think still everything is in making. So it's hard to say much about it.

Elyse H: I see Darrin's hand is up. Go ahead.

Vileen S: Oh, yeah, Darrin has lots of information. Please, Darrin.

Darrin: Thanks. Yes, you can actually download books directly to a braille display or to an iDevice and connect it to braille display, is what I use. So it's not a difficult process. There're some interesting steps and things that you can work your way through it. But yeah, I download, and I read books off of my braille display as well as embossed magazines, other things too. So just depends what you want to be able to do. Over.

Vileen S: Great, yeah. So almost the whole NLS will be on your hand. Anytime, anywhere, you'll be able to read books. Isn't it great? Okay. All right. Let's see if anybody else has anything else more to contribute.

Elyse H: Yeah, there's nobody in line here. Dorothy, did you have a question?

Dorothy: Yes, thank you, Elyse. I just raised my hand again, sorry about that.

Elyse H: Sure.

Vileen S: No problem.

Dorothy: I'm interested, Vileen, in finding out ... I'm sure I'm not the only new person here that's struggling, trying to learn enough braille to be able to utilize some of the tools that y'all are talking about. So I guess one of my questions would be ... I'll give an example. I cannot help my friends that are taking one, two and three if I only talk to them in contracted braille. So the problem with most of the tools that we're talking about is they're more advanced for your beginner learners and I'll still keep myself in that category because I'm a it four, lesson 12. I've got a long way to go.

I guess some of the hints and tips about what is one of the best tools out there, and I'm sure many of you can answer this, but that would help be a shortcut, if you will, for somebody who's caught between the sighted world and the braille world, and needing to figure out what are the contractions I've already learned up to this point.

In other words, how can I easily refresh myself if I'm missing one or two? Say if I'm taking an assignment, you don't want to spend a whole lot of time on one word, if you get my drift. Over.

Vileen S: That's a good suggestions, question and observation, I may say. Well, you said you're at the point of doing assignment 12. I want to say that you have covered a good distance. Now you don't have to go much far away. There are some 17 more lessons, but normally after doing assignment 15 or 16, we start recommending our learners to request some books from NLS and start reading contracted braille. Some of the contractions not get covered, you can guess by the context. So it's possible that you'll be soon reading the contracted braille. The moment you start reading contracted braille, you are all ready to go and read lots of material.

So if at all, if I had to guess, 17 more assignments to go. It may take you some three to four months or maybe a little more, depending on how well and how quick you can do, and how well your instructor can send your grades back. In that case, I have not experienced, but I do realize how difficult it is to zoom between the sighted world and the braille world, and how difficult it is to get the transition smoothly done. But there is one thing that I may want to say here, that determination is probably a buzzword.

Once you are determined to go for the option, and that's what you are, I'm pretty certain because you're learning contracted braille. Once you do that, the whole world is yours. The braille world, and I can say I can use that term, is slightly limited in comparison to the print world, but now braille is opening up. As you heard, NLS information books are going to be available on a braille display, and braille display is kind of a tool. You can compare it with your, what you can say, your smartphone or iPhone 7. It's not exactly, I'm just giving kind of a comparison to help you what it is. And it means you'll be able to feel dots, feel letters, feel contracted braille on your braille display, and you'll be able to read. So it's close to what a sighted person can do by opening a book and start reading.

NLS has thousands of volumes of books to offer, even in actual braille, hard copy braille. So even if the braille world is relatively limited, you have wealth of information and knowledge available in different areas of braille books. So you'll be open to a big new world and you will certainly enjoy reading, getting information and more. Okay? Over. Let's hear from others.

Elyse H: This is Elyse. I heard Dorothy saying that if there's a quick reference to what contractions have been covered up to a certain level, lesson number. Does anybody have that, or is that created through Hadley, so you don't have to go back and search through your lessons when you're learning and working through so many new contractions?

Vileen S: That's a good point. Normally, we advise our learners to prepare flash cards as they learn contractions one by one or make some reference lists. If they do it by themselves because you are writing something, when you write yourself it sets in your memory much better.

Elyse H: Yes.

Vileen S: It is part of the built-in memory. However, if you still need the book with the list of contractions, then you can buy it from National Braille Press. It used to be sold for $10 a piece. Things are changing everywhere with the adoption UEB and with the coming up with new technology and everything else. Things are changing. So I don't have the updated information, but yes, you can buy such a quick reference book of contractions from NLS for something like $10.

Elyse H: Okay, great. We will keep going down the list from our community here. Alison, you're next in line.

Alison: Okay. I have a suggestion, if you can get Judy Dixon to come on and talk about. I had another question about the NLS braille displays. I know a lot of times when you order traditional hard copy braille books from the library, at the end, you have to send them back. Once we start receiving braille displays and we put the books on them that we want, do we have to send the braille displays back to our libraries with the books that we've completed or what?

Vileen S: Oh, no, no. Are you using your talking book audio device? There's a talking book that NLS provides now. Have you got that?

Alison: No. I order my books from Braille Book Review, in hard copy braille. What I'm wondering is, the books that will be put on the NLS braille displays in the future, will we have to send those braille displays back if we already have read the ...?

Vileen S: No, no. Sorry. It's not that. The concept is entirely different. I was trying to compare it with the talking book devices called DTB. Digital Talking Book, DTB is currently provided by NLS, and it's an audio device, and thousands of books which are prepared in the audio version. You can order any book. It comes on a cartridge, and you can insert the cartridge into your talking book device, listen to that and turn the cartridge. That cartridge you need to return, but not the original device, which is DTB or Digital Talking Book.

Similarly, when you get a braille display, you don't have to return the NLS, what is that called? Braille display. Sorry. Sometimes I get distracted. You don't have to return the braille display. In case of DTB, you have to return the cartridge. But in case of braille display, you don't have to return anything. You do anything you want. You are going to download it and use it, keep it and delete it if you don't need it. I'm sorry. Go ahead.

Alison: Oh, okay. Got you.

Vileen S: Does that make sense? Okay?

Alison: Yes.

Vileen S: So it's not the braille display that will have books on it, and then you have to give back, and get another book. No. Basically, will be yours and it will be with you forever. Okay? Go on, [inaudible].

Alison: All right. Got you. Over.

Vileen S: No problem. Any question is good, so don't hesitate. Okay.

Elyse H: Thank you, Alison. And I do have Judy Dixon written down, so I'll pass that on after this call.

Alison: Okay, good.

Elyse H: Yes. Let's see, Tammy-

Vileen S: Yeah, of course, Judy Dixon would be a good resource and there are many people, but my concern is how to reach them and I don't know. I'm going to try. Okay? I'll definitely share my experience with you, how reaching other people works, and I'm going to check with Hadley management, how far we can do that. Okay? There are certain protocols involved. I can do that. I'm willing to do it. Okay. Move on.

Elyse H: Okay. Allen, you're next in line. Go ahead.

Allen: I was going to comment on Dorothy's question, if we've already moved on from that.

Vileen S: Yeah, nice to hear from you. Okay, go ahead.

Allen: Okay. As far as I know, Hadley does not have one that says, lesson by lesson, what contractions are going to be reviewed in that lesson, except at the beginning of each lesson itself in the book. Now the other thing that I had mentioned a while back is you can take and get yourself a three by five card index box. Get the monthly tabs, one through 31, and braille those one through 29, and put those in the box, and then get the index cards, and then braille yourself on those cards, the contractions, what the lesson is, what that lesson title is, the contraction you're going to learn. Put the contractions down, and then put down the dot numbers, and then what the word is so that you can quick reference to that.

And then also to, in addition, do additional cards behind that to put the rules that come with that lesson so that they're in order, for you to be able to easily reference those and go back to those. But that's the only thing I can think of at this time. Otherwise, the reference books that are out there only are going to tell you all the contractions that are available in the UEB course. Over.

Vileen S: Interesting. Thank you so much. Okay, next one.

Elyse H: Okay. Roderick, you're next in line.

Roderick: I recall when I received my box for braille literacy four, there was a quick reference guide in there, like a dictionary with all kinds of contractions that, as far as I know, all the ones that are taught in the course.

Vileen S: Are you talking about Hadley providing a quick reference guide?

Roderick: Yes. It was part of the box that Hadley sent for braille literacy four. It took me a while to read it and I couldn't until I learned some of the contractions already. But once I was able to read it, I could tell. It's a goldmine of information on the contractions. The contractions you used in UEB and the short forms, too, from all the other signs.

Vileen S: It's like I have mentioned before. Hadley used to provide, but now changes are coming in. So I'm not too sure if Hadley has any quick reference guide for contractions. Okay? [crosstalk].

Roderick: They did in January.

Vileen S: Okay. January 2019?

Roderick: Yes.

Vileen S: Oh, okay. Okay.

Roderick: I hope they continue. It's a good resource.

Vileen S: It is, yes. It is certainly a good resource.

Roderick: I'm over but my braille learning is not.

Elyse H: Thank you, Roderick. Great suggestions. Beth, you're next in line.

Beth: Somebody brought up the digital cartridges, I think it was Vileen. But anyway, some agencies, some of the cartridges digital are not in braille. Some of the braille, like from, well, another agency, Christian Record Services at Religious Seventh Day Adventists. But sometimes I've noticed even National Library Service does not always braille their cartridges. I'm wondering why, if it's not always available to put them in braille, like if you order audio books.

Vileen S: Are you talking about the braille label on cartridges?

Beth: Yeah. Sometimes I get magazine on braille, Guideposts. It just says magazine, it doesn't say Guideposts. See, I get Guideposts on cassette and I pay for it. But sometimes I've gotten them from National Library Service and they just have magazine. I don't understand.

Vileen S: It may be some administrative situation or somebody who is in charge of putting labels could not do, did not do, things like that. That is so much an NLS minor issue. So I don’t think we can go into that. The only thing you can do there, you can call NLS and ask them-

Beth: Okay.

Vileen S: ... why there are no labels on the cartridges or something like that. Okay?

Beth: Yeah, okay.

Vileen S: That's the best way to go. Okay, thank you. It seems we're addressing all questions in detail. Okay, here comes Allen. Yes, please. Allen.

Allen: Probably the reason why sometimes it's not listed, the NLS is going to be putting ... If you request more than one periodical or book in that month period, they're going to put them all in one cartridge. So it'd be kind of hard to list all books on the cartridge. That's why you go to your bookshelf in your player and then it'll tell you all the books that are on that cartridge. Even if there's just one book, it'll just automatically start with that one book and tell you what it is. Over.

Vileen S: Oh, okay. Great, great. See? But Allen, tell me also more and tell everybody how you can go to the bookshelf when you are using a cartridge.

Allen: You have to hold down the play button, and then it'll say bookshelf, and then to scroll through the bookshelf, you just hit the forward or reverse button to get there. And when you get the book that you want to listen to, then you hit play and it'll start that book. Now if you don't finish that book and you feel like listening to something else, just again, hold down the play button till it says bookshelf, and then go to the next book. Now it'll save all your books wherever you left off in that cartridge, so you don't have to worry about losing your place. Over.

Vileen S: Great. See, I'm pretty certain, Allen, many of our participants here do not know how to use the DTB or a player. So this information certainly greatly helped. Thanks a lot. Okay. Let's see if anybody else has anything to say more about this particular issue.

Elyse H: Okay. Roderick, go ahead.

Roderick: My question isn't exactly about braille. Since the NLS hasn’t had braille readers yet, I'm trying to learn how to use a screen reader, but I'm having some difficulty. Anybody give me some pointers?

Elyse H: You're looking about screen readers and how to use screen readers, Roderick?

Roderick: Yes.

Vileen S: Okay. Okay. Let me say something here. Our discussion group is entirely focused on braille, so we do not address the issues related to screen reader. I'm pretty certain there must be some other group, I will find out. But Tech It Out is probably one of them, which you may want to join in. Tech it Out, T-E-C-H. Right?

Roderick: Thanks guys, I appreciate it. Thank you and have a nice day. Over.

Vileen S: Thank you. All right, thank you. Let's take another question. One quick question.

Elyse H: Okay. Allen, you're next in line.

Vileen S: Oh, that's good.

Elyse H: Excuse me, Alison.

Vileen S: Alison. Okay.

Elyse H: Alison, sorry.

Alison: I was just going to say if Roderick wants to listen to the past Tech It Out discussion groups, I haven't done this, but he can go to the Hadley website and click the tune in link once he gets to the Tech It Out discussion group heading. Over.

Elyse H: Yes, that's a great point.

Vileen S: Perfect. Thank you, thank you.

Elyse H: All of our discussions are archived in there. They are on the site. So the Embracing Braille, the Tech It Out, even the Writer's Circle, ones about recreation, leisure, whatever your heart desires. They're all archived there.

Alison: Yep.

Vileen S: Okay, friends, thank you so much. See you next Thursday. Bye now.