by George Griller
As a 70-year-old American, I can yet recall my pre-university level education – particularly those years from second through sixth grades when daily we underwent Palmer penmanship exercises consisting of uniformly drawing circles and virgules across the paper, line after line. And, from fourth through ninth grade, with almost surgeon-like precision, we diagrammed sentences with increasing complexity. Grammar (which was not our papa's mama) we had to know intimately.
Our language is a living language, thank goodness, and living languages change. This also can be applied to our beloved braille. In the late 1990s I heard about the UEBC. I researched it. I queried my pen pals both in the United States and internationally. At that time, it was more or less universally felt that the UEBC was being lobbied for only by sighted braille transcriptionists and not by those of us who use braille on a daily basis. None of us felt that the rules of braille were unwieldy. In 1991 I wrote an abstract of my research on the UEBC, which was published in "The Braille Forum."
For years I have taught basic blindness skills to adults, including but not limited to contracted braille, grade three braille, computer braille, and the Nemeth code. There are discrepancies among the braille codes. It has been my experience that the serious student, including the student with traumatic brain injury, will master and correctly use the codes despite the discrepancies.
If the UEBC makes more print readily available in braille, and if the UEBC significantly increases braille literacy among the newly blind, then this 70-year-old blind man shall enthusiastically get back to the books to learn this new braille.
My one regret, however, was that when seeking input from blind braille users, the Braille Authority of North America (BANA) did not advertise an address to where snail-mail comments could be sent. Many of my older blind pen pals and I cannot afford monthly costs to maintain computers and e-mail.