The Louis Braille Bulletin Volume 3

The Louis Braille Bulletin
No 3
July 2008

Compiled and distributed by

The South African Library for

the Blind

in collaboration with

Braille SA
Letter from the Editor
Dear readers
It is hard to believe that we have already passed the halfway mark of 2008. Time is surely flying.
With the bicentenary birthday celebration of Louis Braille approaching, I reflect on the history of braille. Its humble beginning as the compact, six-dot braille cell; its struggle for acceptance among blind users as medium of communication and education. Its evolution, facilitated by great work from our pioneers that brought us braille systems for eleven official languages in South Africa, maths, science, music, phonetic and computer signs. Its further fifteen-year evolution culminating in a flexible, unambiguous, unified code. Braille has gone from strength to strength and we have made great strides in its development.
As we continue to promote and facilitate the use of braille while enjoying the benefits of literacy and intellectual freedom bequeathed to us by its inventor, let us keep in mind the words of the educator Helen Keller: “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much”.
This issue of The Louis Braille Bulletin will focus on more extensive implementation plans for the Unified Braille Code in South Africa, the preparation of a brochure on the history of braille development in South Africa, celebrations planned for the Louis Braille bicentenary, braille examinations available in African languages and also answer braille questions from producers and readers.
I trust that you will find the third issue of {{italic[}}The Louis Braille Bulletin{{]italic}} informative.

For comments and questions contact:

Pasha Alden
The South African Library for the Blind
P O Box 115
Tel.: 046 622 7226

Q.:When print leaves a blank line to indicate a paragraph do we follow the print and leave a blank line in the braille edition?
A.: According to the rules contained in {{italic[}}Braille in SA{{]italic}} paragraph 9.1 a paragraph is indicated by indenting two spaces from the lefthand margin with the paragraph beginning in cell three. There are no blank lines between paragraphs in braille.
Q.: When writing the word “d’you” do I need the letter sign?
A.: No letter sign is needed before the letter “d”, as the letter sign is used to distinguish a letter from a contraction. In the case of “d’you” the letter “d” cannot be confused with a contraction.
As countries where English is spoken as first and second language move towards implementation of the Unified Braille Code, it was decided at the recent meeting of Braille SA, the standard setting body for braille in South Africa, to implement the Unified Braille Code for all grades for literary braille while the technical component, such as signs for maths and science will be phased in gradually. As learners progress through their grades, the old maths and science codes will be phased out and replaced from the lower grades upwards by the technical portion of the Unified Braille Code.
A significant advantage of this approach is that it will prove less confusing for braille teachers and instructors as they will not have to teach two separate codes for different grades.
Braille transcribers will need to know only one code.
The Unified Braille Primer Australian Edition is available in PDF, MSWord and BRF files.
The braille version consists of three files in brf format and has been formatted for 42 characters per line and 25 lines per page.
The document can be read with a braille display, but keep in mind that if you wish to print the primer, be sure that your braille embosser is set up to print these dimensions.
An electronic copy of the braille primer is available at the Braille Consultancy.
For further information about the primer please contact:
Pasha Alden (National Braille Consultant)
Tel.: 046 622 7226

Pasha Alden talks to braille producers, readers and braille instructors about implementation of the Unified Braille Code for the first three grades
Pasha: What do you like best about the Unified Braille Code?
Marius: I like the simplicity of the system, the fact that we no longer need to remember different signs for different braille codes for the same sign in print.
Angela: I like the capitals passage indicator, it sure saves space.
Phumlani: The system is more logical and learners now know about signs for different typeforms, such as underline, bold and the like.
Pasha: How are learners coping with the code?
Phumlani: They are coping just fine. They like the new sign for the ellipsis and of course the nine contractions we have abolished.
Pasha: How do you see braille production affected by the Unified Braille Code?
Angela: At first it could prove tricky for some of our transcribers who have used the current system for so long to make the change.
Marius: In the short-term there will be some growing pains, as is often the case with change. However, long-term benefits such as streamlined production, with fewer braille rules to master and less human intervention cannot be ignored.

Do you wish to know more about the history of braille development in South Africa? How generations of blind people learned to read and write?
Then you will be pleased to learn that at a meeting of Braille SA it was decided to compile a brochure on the history of braille development in South Africa.
The brochure will cover braille development, from the code itself to the development of braille production methods and embossers.
Should you have a contribution to make to the brochure please contact:
Mrs Reinette Popplestone
Tel.: 021 650 5090

Educators and Braille Instructors, please be advised that braille examinations are available in the languages of Sepedi and IsiXhosa.
We request that Educators and Braille Instructors encourage learners to write these braille examinations.
For further information contact:
Dr Obert Maguvhe
Tel.: 012 452 3811
Reshmika Ramchurran
Tel: 012 452 3811
Educators, Braille Instructors and other stakeholder organisations please be advised that the next meeting of Braille SA will take place in Bloemfontein from 27-28 October 2008.
We wish to encourage principals and stakeholder organisations to send braille experts to the meeting.
For further information contact:
Susan van Wyk (Secretary Braille SA)
Tel.:011 839 1793