Here and There, edited by Sharon Strzalkowski
The announcement of products and services in this column does not represent an endorsement by the American Council of the Blind, its officers, or staff. Listings are free of charge for the benefit of our readers. "The ACB Braille Forum" cannot be held responsible for the reliability of the products and services mentioned. To submit items for this column, send a message to email@example.com, or phone the national office at 1-800-424-8666, and leave a message in Sharon Lovering's mailbox. Information must be received at least two months ahead of publication date.
New Audio Chat Site
Out of the Darkness is a new audio chat site that provides a community in which all people with disabilities can share common interests. To learn more, visit www.out-ofthe-darkness.net.
Penny and Her Marble
“Penny and Her Marble” by Kevin Henkes was National Braille Press’ July 2014 book club selection. It is a print/braille children’s book available in contracted and uncontracted braille for ages 3 to 5. In this easy-to-read book, Penny, the young mouse of the title, finds a beautiful marble in her neighbor’s yard and takes it home. But is it really hers? Told in short sentences and simple words with a natural cadence, the story lays out a moral dilemma, lets the heroine find her own solution, and concludes with a reassuringly good outcome.
For more information, visit www.nbp.org/ic/nbp/BC1408-PENNY.html or call 1-800-548-7323.
Future of Braille Report
Deputy Librarian of Congress Robert J. Dizard Jr. recently released a report exploring issues related to braille.
“The Future of Braille: NLS Braille Summit Presentations and Outcomes” details the proceedings of a conference held by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) in partnership with the Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, Mass., June 19-22, 2013. More than 100 librarians, instructors, producers, and other experts in the field of braille attended the summit.
Panelists discussed improvements in the braille code, methods of producing braille, lowering costs, leveraging technology, and addressing misperceptions about the literacy tool. Participants recognized that collaboration is the way forward for strengthening braille literacy. The gathering also recommended that NLS support efforts to update braille technology and specifications, and that the service provide a low-cost braille display in the same way that it provides audio-playback equipment.
To read more, view the report online at www.loc.gov/nls/index.html.
Touch of Genius Winners Announced
National Braille Press recently announced its Touch of Genius Prize for Innovation winners: the iBraille Challenge Mobile App submitted by the Braille Institute and California State University Los Angeles, and the Tactile Caliper submitted by Pranay Jain and Anshul Singhal of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The iBraille Challenge Mobile App supports braille reading and writing for blind and visually impaired students and is aligned with The Braille Challenge®, a national braille reading and writing contest. In addition, the iBraille Challenge app allows teachers to gather much needed data on how kids learn braille.
The Tactile Caliper is a mechanical device similar to a traditional Vernier Caliper and displays complete measurements in braille that can be read instantaneously with accuracy as fine as one-sixteenth of an inch. The mechanical slide system that forms the braille cells will allow simple braille read-outs to be added to an entire array of items, including home appliances, science and engineering tools, and educational devices at a low cost and without the need for electricity.
Special thanks to the Gibney Family Foundation for their support of the Touch of Genius Prize for Innovation. Applications will soon be available for the 2014 prize.
The ABCs of UEB
The Braille Authority of North America (BANA) recently released a new publication, “The ABCs of UEB,” written by Constance Risjord. This publication outlines the major differences between English Braille, American Edition (EBAE) and Unified English Braille (UEB). Although this is not a comprehensive instruction manual, it provides examples and practice exercises that allow people who already know EBAE to quickly build on their knowledge of braille to understand UEB. The book is available in PDF, BRF, and HTML formats on the BANA website at www.brailleauthority.org/ueb.html.
Cherokee Braille Code Developed
A Cherokee braille code has been developed by Tamara Kearney of the Commonwealth Braille & Talking Book Cooperative. This code permits the reading and writing of the Cherokee syllabary in braille for the first time.
The full description and use of the code can be found at www.cbtbc.org/Cherokee.
The Cherokee syllabary stands as one of the major advancements in literacy among the native peoples of North America. It was invented by Sequoyah between the late 1810s and early 1820s. The creation of the syllabary is noteworthy in that Sequoyah could not previously read or write in any script. It remains today the only example of a modern writing system developed independent of a previous background in an existing writing system.
Cherokee braille is supported in version 2 of Braille2000; see www.braille2000.com for details. This permits the publication of Cherokee braille from existing and future Cherokee texts. Translation tables have been developed for the open-source Liblouis computer braille translation system; visit www.liblouis.org for more information.