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.