Opinion: Braille as many of us :old-time” Braille readers know it, is about to change.

If any of my readers or followers are blind, and you read Braille, be prepared to see a change in Braille as we know it. I subscribe to two British Braille Magazines, which were originally produced in British Braille. This code is similar to literary braille, without the capitol letters, and the rules for Grade 2 contractions are different from American literary Braille. However, they have started using a new braille code called Unified English Braille (UEB).

What is UEB?

I found the definition of Unified English Braille Code (UEB) on wikkipedia, and the definition is as follows: “Unified English Braille Code (UEBC, now usually just UEB, formerly UBC) is an English language Braille code standard, developed to permit representing the wide variety of literary and technical material in use in the English Speaking world.”

Why was UEB Developed, and When will it take effect in the US?

According to an article I found at http://www.braillathority.org/ueb/UEBpassed.html , In 1991, the Braille Authority of North America, (BANA ) learned that there seemed to be a lack of Braille usage by both children and adults alike. One of the reasons cited was the complexity and disarray of American Literary Braille code currently in use. With that being said, BANA began to develop a Unified English Braille code. This code development was internationalized and taken on by the International Council on English Braille (ICEB). Back in the mid 1990s on a news real type cassette magazine I heard people debating the adoption of UEB,. Many people who learned Braille as a child expressed the fact that UEB is more cumbersome, and it takes more getting used to than the literary Grade 2 Braille that has been drilled into our heads for decades, in school, and in braille materials of today.
If you are a long-time Braille user like me, you may as well find out all you can about the changes being made in Braille as we know it now, because if you are in the UK and are reading this, the Royal National Institute of the Blind (RNIB), has already adopted this code, and it will be adopted in the US by BANA on January 4, 2016.

My opinions about the new Braille Code and discussion questions

First of All, I have started reading UEB in my copy of the July 2015 Braille Music Magazine, which I subscribe to via the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), division of the Library of Congress (LOC). Do we have a choice whether or not we want to learn a new form of Braille? Apparently not! Will we have to learn new symbols? yep, I have found several symbols that I have know idea what they stand for. I’m here to tell you that I don’t like this code, because of these new symbols, and the fact that some of the contractions I’m used to seeing in a Braille book or magazine are no longer being used. For example, the BLE symbol consisting of dots 3-4-5-6 has been dropped and now the letters B, L, E, are spelled out. Instead of using dot 6 before the letters N and Y, Words like “notation,” are written n-o-t-a-tion, (dots 5-6- followed by the letter N). Instead of seeing the word “really,” written out as r-e-ally (dot 6 followed by Y), “really” is spelled out. the contraction for the word “to” before a word is no longer used. The original ellypsis sign has been replaced with three periods to look like this, (…) . the dots 3-6 for “com” is no longer being used.
These are just a few of the new changes I’ve noticed while reading my magazine. Before I ask you to share your thoughts on these changes in the Braille code many of us have come to rely upon, I do have one more thing I want to say about it. Due to the fact that many of the contractions I’ve learned all those years ago, have been dropped from this new code, Braille will take up more space than it already does. However, If you have a Braille display, and a device with the BARD app installed or you can download books onto your computer or note taker, then you will have no problem, but if you read hard copy Braille like I do, you will have a bit of a learning curve.

Discussion Questions/call to action

For those of you who are Blind, and read Braille, or if you have learned to read Braille in order to teach/tutor someone who is blind, have you tried reading UEB, and if so, what are your thoughts about the changes that have been made? Do you think that today’s generation of blind children will be able to notice any change in the way they read Braille? How do you see long-time Braille readers being able to adapt to the new code? For those of my readers who have no idea what I’m talking about, I do apologize for confusing you, but I had to get my frustrations off my chest. Thanks for putting up with me, and understanding.
Until next time, Happy writing and reading, and God bless you all.

7 thoughts on “Opinion: Braille as many of us :old-time” Braille readers know it, is about to change.”

  1. I had lots to say, so I reblogged your post on tumblr. Not sure if you get automatic notifications. Now I should go work on proofreading my braille trial manuscript so I can finish my transcription certification! Talking about braille on the internet is much more fun that doing work.

  2. Here’s another thought for you. I missed Kim Charleson’s talk about the transition at our local AFB meeting, but my friend said she had two main points. One is that it’s pretty easy to learn to read UEB. The other is that you can do whatever you want for braille you are producing for your personal use. It is only if you are making materials for other people that you need to follow the new rules. (Kim is the director of the Perkins Library.)

    • Some symbols I’m not familiar with yet, and they confuse me. The only thing that threw me for a loop other than the unfamiliar symbols, is the fact that some contractions that were drilled in my head over the last few decades have been dropped. After reading a few articles in my Braille Music magazine, I can see why some words that were once bundled together are spaced out, and it gets easier to read UEB the more you work with it. It’s all about accepting change, because life is about changing. I told a friend about the change, and he wrot an email the chairperson of BANA, and I told him that speaking his thoughts won’t keep the changes from happening. If people don’t learn to adapt to the changes, they won’t be able to read newly Brailled Materials.
      As a writer, I have to get used to these changes, because I have discovered that reading UEB makes understanding the literacy side of print writing much easier. I was upset by the changes at first, but now I’m okay with it, especially since I will be receiving a symbol indicator key so I can learn the new punctuation symbols that I’m not familiar with. If I make Braille notes for myself, I will probabaly use what I learned in school, to make my notes much quicker. Happy reading and writing my friend, and God bless you.

  3. I am lucky having my sight. I have no idea that they were making these changes. I suppose most of you have spent a lifetime learning the old system and it is difficult to change. Have a great day.

    • Be honest with you, as I have been reading the new bro code, there are some simple so I need to learn. However, I see why they don’t what they’ve done. This change needs to be made in order to do away with any inconsistencies and confusion in the rules on when the contractions are using when you’re not. Those contractions ahead inconsistencies they don’t use them at all.

  4. My mother was blind. She had Retinitis Pigmentosa. She was totally blind by the time I was born. She never wanted to learn Braille or use a cane. She listened to books on tape. She missed out on a lot of life. And so did I.


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