The Louis Braille Bulletin Volume 1

The Louis Braille Bulletin

Compiled and distributed by
The South African Library for
the Blind
in collaboration with
Braille SA

volume 1
July 2007

Letter from the Editor

Dear Readers

As our braille code is evolving to accommodate the changes required to ensure ease of reading, teaching and production, it has become necessary to find a suitable mechanism by which to disseminate information about braille among braille readers and stakeholder organisations within the blindness sector.
So what is the purpose of the Louis Braille Bulletin? The purpose of the bulletin is to promote literacy for touch readers through the standardisation of braille codes; and to facilitate the use, teaching and production of braille by means of dissemination of information.

In this edition we will inform you about the UBC training workshop for teachers and attempt to answer a number of frequently asked questions about UBC.

I trust that you will find the bulletin helpful and informative.

Direct comments and letters to:
The Editor
Pasha Alden (National Braille Consultant)
The South African Library for the Blind
PO Box 115
Tel.:046 622 7226


To all teachers, producers and readers of braille

A South African publication for teaching maths up to grade 12 is now available.

Compendium of Mathematics Braille, compiled by Lourens Botes, is based on Braille Mathematics Notation 2005, of the Braille Authority of the United Kingdom. Where South African usage differs from British braille the current South African rules and conventions apply.

The compendium can be purchased at Pioneer Printers.

For further information contact:

Mr Schalk Hugo
Tel.: 023 342 6313

Frequently asked questions about
the Unified Braille Code

One of the core functions of the National Braille Consultancy is to lend advice and support with all braille related enquiries. The questions below are some of the most frequently asked questions about the Unified Braille Code.

Q.: What are the reasons for a Unified Braille Code?

A.: There are two main braille jurisdictions for English braille codes: codes authorised by the Braille Authority of North America (BANA), followed by Canada and the United States of America, and the Braille Authority of the United Kingdom (BAUK), followed by Britain.
Codes for literary texts used in countries that follow BANA and BAUK are similar enough to be read in all the countries.

Though literary codes are similar, braille authorities of North America and the United Kingdom have developed separate codes for mathematics, science, and computer codes.
Such codes are not only incompatible with technical codes used elsewhere in the world, but each is incompatible with other technical codes within its own jurisdiction. So for example a learner in South Africa needs to master three different braille codes (four with music).

In 1992 the Braille Authority of North America (BANA) initiated the Unified Braille Code (UBC) research project. The main goal of the project was to develop a “base” code that could be used for literary braille, with symbols for mathematics, computer braille, etc. embedded in it, followed throughout the English speaking world.

Q.: What are the advantages of a unified braille code?

A.: Based on literary braille, the Unified Braille Code places emphasis on readability and strives to eliminate ambiguity for the braille reader.

Q.: How will the English braille code change?

A.: Only nine contractions have been abolished: ble, com, dd, ally, ation, to, into, by, and o’clock.

Q.: What are the reasons for abolishing these contractions?

A.: Because braille has so few symbols some function either as punctuation marks or as contractions, depending on the context. For instance dots 3-6 at the beginning of a word can mean the contraction for com or a
hyphen. This is also the case for contractions that use dot 6, e.g. {{italic-wd>}}ally and ation which may, due to the fact that capital letters occur within a word be read as internal capital letters. These context-based symbols can cause confusion.

Q.: What does the future hold for braille translation?

A.: The development of braille translation tables will in future take place with DBTwin 10.6. So it is necessary that all stakeholders upgrade to DBTwin 10.6.

Q.: What translation tables are available for the Unified Braille Code?

A.: Translation tables for the Unified Braille Code are available for English, Afrikaans and the Nguni languages, (Xhosa and Zulu), at the Braille Consultancy.

Q.: What changes are incorporated in our current tables?

a.: The current translation tables incorporate changes to the current codes, such as the abolition of el ver, and deur in the Afrikaans braille code.

For further information contact:

Pasha Alden
Tel.: 046 622 7226

UBC implemented in South Africa 2008

In 2004 the South African braille standard setting body, Braille SA voted in favour of the adoption of the Unified Braille Code.

The Unified Braille Code will be implemented in South Africa in 2008 for learners of the first three grades. In order to equip our teachers and braille instructors with the knowledge of UBC the SANCB will host two training workshops, of which the first will take place on 17-19 and the second on 19-21 September 2007, to be attended as teachers are able.

We wish to encourage principals at schools for the blind to send braille experts to attend this essential training course.
For further information about the training course contact:

Dr Obert Maguvhe
tel.: 012 452 3811

Meetings of Braille SA

To all principals, teachers, braille instructors and producers

Please be advised that the next meeting of Braille SA is to take place on 25 and 26 October 2007 at the South African National Council for the Blind.

We wish to encourage schools to send braille teachers and braille experts.

For further information contact:

Mr Christo de Klerk (Chairman of Braille SA)
Tel.: 011 350 8132

The Library Newsletter

Do you wish to have library facilities and news of new titles at your finger tips?

If so, the Library’s newsletter makwenzeke (Make it happen) is your gateway to all you wish to know about your library.
To receive the newsletter in audio, braille or print contact:

Mrs Busi Mbiyo
The South African Library for the Blind
PO Box 115
Tel.: 046 622 7226


Aan alle braille-onderwysers -produsentes, -transkribeerders en -gebruikers

Die volgende veranderinge aan ons braillestelsel is onmiddellik van krag.

Die verkorting vir ver

Die verkorting vir ver word geskrap. Ons skryf dus woorde soos versit, vereniging en ver met die letters er verkort. Waar ‘n koppelteken aan die begin van ‘n woord ‘n weglating aandui, word die koppelteken nie meer verdubbel nie aangesien punte 3-6 slegs as ‘n koppelteken gelees kan word. Ons skryf dus stilstaan of -sit.

Die verkorting vir el

Die verkorting vir el word geskrap. Ons skryf dus woorde soos bel, geld en tel met el onverkort en verkort be in kabbel, te in wortel, ge in giggel.

Die verkorting vir deur
Die verkorting vir deur mag slegs alleenstaande of aan die begin van ‘n woord gebruik word. Ons skryf dus deurklokkie, met deur verkort, maar laat deur onverkort in voordeurklokkie.

Let daarop dat implementering van bostaande reĆ«ls onmiddellik van krag is. Vir brailletranskribeerders sodra ‘n nuwe titel geproduseer word.

Vir navrae oor veranderinge in braillegebruike kontak:

Pasha Alden (Nasionale BrailleKonsultant)
Tel.: 046 622 7226