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BRAILLE AND OTHER TACTILE WRITING SYSTEMS

History of Reading Codes for the Blind: by the New York Institute for Special Education: Hauy, Braille, Gall, Alston, Lucas, Moon; American and British Braille codes--all with clear explanations of some occasionally complicated writing systems.

New York Point, the invention of William Bell Wait, is explained and illustrated in a short biography of Wait (the article is illustrated, but the text is accessible).

The Royal National Institute for the Blind has good brief descriptions of braille and Moon type.

The Brighton (England) Society for the Blind has a good description of Moon type as well as several interesting biographical and autobiographical accounts of Moon himself.

Braille and Other Tactile Reading/Printing Systems: links to reading codes for the blind, brailling materials, braille translation programs.

The Braille Authority of North America has complete charts of the literary braille characters and their meanings.

"Braille: Into the Next Millennium," a 600-page anthology of articles by more than two dozen international experts in the field of braille, has been published jointly by the Library of Congress's National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS/BPH) and the Friends of Libraries for Blind and Physically Handicapped Individuals in North America." The book is available from the National Library Service in braille (BR 13188) and cassette (RC 50969) formats; single copies in print can be requested from the NLS.

Some international braille codes:

"COBRA is a print compatible eight-dot braille code that integrates one-character signs for lowercase and uppercase letters, numbers, punctuation signs, and mathematical and foreign language symbols into a single code."

The American Foundation for the Blind has created the Braille Bug, an interactive channel "created to teach sighted children [grades 3-6] about braille, and to encourage literacy among all children--sighted and visually impaired."

The Braille Trail: The American Foundation for the Blind has also created The Braille Trail, an information packet designed for sighted elementary schoolchildren who want to learn about braille reading, writing and mathematics. For more information, contact:
National Braille Literacy Center
American Foundation for the Blind
100 Peachtree Street, Suite 620
Atlanta, GA 30303
e-mail: literacy@afb.net

Braille Workbox: the Louis Braille Center has created the Braille Workbox, a four-part unit designed for sighted students in grades four to eight as an introduction to braille. It includes a biography of Louis Braille, an explanation of braille reading, braille writing materials and a complete short book in braille. The price is $25.00 plus $4.00 postage and handling. The Braille Box can be borrowed by registered users of the Wisconsin Regional Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. The Louis Braille Center also sells "Signs and Rules of English Braille," a brief handbook to Grade 1 and 2 braille ($12.00).
The Louis Braille Center
320 Dayton St., Suite 125
Edmonds, WA 98020-3590
Phone: 425-776-4042
Fax: 425-778-2384.

The Center for Disability Information & Referral has a fine introduction to Braille (and American Sign Language) for mid-elementary level students on its "Disability Awareness for Youth" pages.

The Braille Authority of North America has produced sample materials on the proposed Unified English Braille Code for braille readers, educators and transcribers in the United States and Canada to review and provide BANA with feedback. For a braille edition of Sampler 1 (literary braille, non-technical material and simple math), contact:
Kim Charlson
Braille and Talking Book Library
Perkins School for the Blind
175 North Beacon Street
Watertown, MA 02472
Phone: 617-972-7249
E-mail: charlsonk@perkins.pvt.k12.ma.us.

Sampler 2 contains examples of technical material including algebra, calculus, chemistry, and computer programs written in the UEBC. To request a braille copy of Sampler 2 produced in two braille volumes contact:
Eileen Curran, BANA Chair
National Braille Press
88 St. Stephen Street
Boston, MA 02115
Phone: 888-965-8965 or 617-266-6160 extension 17
E-mail: ecurran@nbp.org.

For a print edition of either Sampler 1 or Sampler 2 (including original print and simulated braille examples), contact:
Frances Mary D'Andrea
American Foundation for the Blind
National Literacy Center
100 Peachtree Street, Suite 620
Atlanta, GA 30303
Phone: 404-525-2303
E-mail: literacy@afb.net.

"The purpose of the International Council on English Braille is to coordinate and improve standards for braille usage for all English-speaking users of braille." It is currently researching "the feasibility of a single Unified Braille Code (UBC) for both literary and technical purposes throughout the English-speaking world."

R. J. Brown is the author of "A History of Publishing for People Who Are Blind."

The Marie and Eugene Callahan Museum of the American Printing House for the Blind displays materials on the history of the education of blind persons and on braille writing. There are 35 online pictures and descriptions of various devices used for writing braille. The online introduction to the museum for children is a good introduction to braille.

"Judy Dixon's Collection of Braille and Tactile-writing Slates" consists of 243 individual slates, representing 200 unique items from 25 countries. Her site has photographs of many of them.

Duxbury's "Background on Braille" and "Braille and Computers" are clear and straightforward expositions.

Liz Gray's "Links to Braille Information" has links to charts of braille signs and translators, sites dealing with modifications to the braille code for special uses.
Also see her discussion: "About Braille: Codes, Formats, Computers, and Braille ASCII."

Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology have produced a prototype refreshable braille display that costs less than $200 in materials, opening the way to an inexpensive way for blind people to access e-books.

A braille display based on pneumatic microvalves is under development by Orbital Research Inc.

Braille Translation Programs

Some frequently used braille translation programs are:


Biography of Louis Braille and History of Braille Writing

An invaluable, comprehensive scholarly account of the origins and genesis of braille, treating in detail the predecessors of Louis Braille, is available in French, "Origines et genese du braille dans le monde," by Frederic Plain-Japy of the Association Valentin Hauy pour le bien des aveugles.

Kenneth Jernigan describes in detail his "Visit to Louis Braille's Birthplace." There are a dozen photographs of the house and of Coupvray, France in the print edition of The Braille Monitor (July, 1994).

Here is a brief biography, in French, of Louis Braille, together with a portrait of Braille, interior and exterior pictures of the house where he was born in Coupvray, France, and a short explanation of the invention of braille writing.

Louis Braille: there are some photographs of the interior and exterior of the house where Louis Braille was born, in Coupvray, France, on the site of Braille Foundation of Uruguay. The text of the site is in Spanish, but the photographs are interesting in themselves.

Duxbury Systems has a brief history of Louis Braille and braille as well as an "Early History of Braille Translators and Embossers" for those interested in the development of computerized braille translation.

"How Braille Began," on the Enabling Technologies site, is an excellent brief historical account of the origins and early history of Braille writing.

Alan Ackley, the "Braillerman" quotes from a fascinating account, by the Perkins School for the Blind, of the invention of the Perkins Brailler by David Abraham in 1939.

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