After reading my July issue of the Braille Music Magazine produced in Unified English Braille (UEB), in the UK, I have discovered that this change isn’t as bad as I first thought. Here’s why:
At first I found the dropping of certain contractions that I was used to seeing in literary braille a bit annoying, but the more I read, the more I got used to the changes, and soon, I wasn’t paying any special attention to them. For example, the 6 (dots 2-3-5) jammed up against a word to represent the word “to”, isn’t used any more, and I find that much better, because words aren’t usually written without spaces in print.
When I took the Braille transcription course, I learned that certain words were bundled together to supposedly save space in Braille, but from my understanding of UEB, these and other contractions were dropped, due to the inconsistent rules regarding when these contractions should and should not be used. The one ruling I remember from the braille transcription course, “When in doubt, spell it out.”. seems to hold true in UEB code. The contraction is either used or it’s not. If you want to read the complete set of rules and guidelines for UEB, use your favorite search engine, and enter unified English Braille in the search field. one of the first web pages you find has links to the motion by BANA to develop UEB, and the rules, and a symbol indicator key.
One other thing I want to point out, is that UEB has new symbol indicators for all the various print symbols that aren’t available in literary Braille code, such as angle brackets, curly brackets, bullets, bold, underlined text, italics etc. Once I receive an indicator key in Braille, I will have no trouble learning the symbols I haven’t figured out just by reading the context of the magazine.
My suggestion to those of you who grew up learning literary grade 1 and grade 2 Braille like I did, is to take the time to familiarize yourself with the UEB, as new magazines, books, and other documents that are transcribed for the public will be produced in this new International Braille Code. However, when you are making Braille notes for yourself, you do have the option to use the code you learned in school. I also suggest that you practice reading literary Braille code, because any materials published before July 2015 for UK residents, and January 2016 for U.S. residents, are produced in Literary Braille. Please note that we blind people who have read Braille for many years aren’t having to relearn Braille all over again, we just have to make the transition to a new and much easier way of reading Braille. Think of UEB as another Braille tool to add to your literary toolbox if you will.
A writing tip
Enough said about the new Braille code itself, now I want to share a writing tip concerning dialogue and text in quotations that I discovered while reading my magazine in UEB. Ok, if you have a bit of dialogue or quoted text in either the middle or the end of a sentence, you can use punctuation after the closing quotation. Let me give you an example here. Todd Asked Janet, “Will you attend the writers conference this year?”.
You can also turn that sentence around to read as follows: “Will you attend the writers conference this year?”, Todd asked Janet.
I have also discovered a comma after the closing quotation mark when titles of classical pieces, or other quoted text is used in the middle of a sentence. “How did you discover these little writing tricks?”, you might be asking. Well, I “Saw”, these punctuation marks in the text of several articles where experts and musicians have been interviewed, with my own two index fingers. (no pun intended).