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by Jeff Bishop 


Over the years, the literary braille code has been updated through the work of the Braille Authority of North America, better known as BANA. On January 4, 2016, which happens to be Louis Braille's birthday, the entire country will be launching UEB (Unified English Braille). We wanted to assure all parents, students, and consumers that we are working hard across the state of Arizona to get everyone ready for the roll-out of UEB.

Here is some information on why Unified English Braille is important for everyone and some of the basic changes most braille readers will see while reading:

As technology evolves, we need to be sure that braille moves forward along with changes in print. For this reason, UEB was implemented to better represent the printed word we see in literature. Print readers use bolding, underlining and italics regularly along with unique combinations for letters and numbers. UEB allows for the representation of these print forms more precisely than our current braille code.

Many current rules in literary braille are very confusing and present challenges for those preparing materials even when using braille translation software such as Duxbury.

Nine contractions are eliminated as a part of UEB. These were: by, into, to, dd, ble, com, ation, ally and o'c. These particular contractions often can lead to confusion by a braille reader, hence, UEB eliminates them to make things more streamlined.

Some contractions such as to, into and by also have changes in how they are used, again to help make the ease of reading and preparing braille materials more efficient for everyone.

Most braille readers will be able to move into reading and writing UEB with minimal effort. However, we strongly encourage everyone to review the resources shown later in this article for additional information. Be assured that teachers of students with visual impairments, rehabilitation staff, transcribers, and other professionals across the state of Arizona are working very hard in order to be up to speed with UEB before the implementation date of January 4, 2016. Producers of textbooks and other materials are also gearing up for UEB.

We would strongly suggest you listen to an audio presentation from the Arizona Braille Consortium UEB web site that may give you a more in-depth understanding behind the reason for UEB and the upcoming rule changes. Select that link above and just hit backspace to exit the recording when you're done.

Take a look at these fantastic resources and prepare yourself for an exciting change that will unify braille globally!

BANA – Unified English Braille, http://www.brailleauthority.org/ueb.html
Arizona Braille Consortium UEB (ABC-UEB) Information Page, http://azueb.coe.arizona.edu/
The Hadley School for the Blind's Transition to UEB course, http://hadley.edu/UEBTransition.asp
UEB Reader (Free), http://www.brailleauthority.org/pressreleases/pr-2014-10-15.html
Unified English Braille Version of the McDuffy Braille Reader, https://nfb.org/national-federation-blind-announces-release-unified-english-braille-version-mcduffy-braille-reader
A Brief Overview of Unified English Braille (UEB) webinar (Free), http://www.afb.org/store/pages/ShoppingCart/ProductDetails.aspx?ProductId=eUEBoverview&ruling=Yes
The Arizona Braille Consortium UEB (ABC-UEB) is here for you to answer questions, take your comments, etc. Please email us at abcueb@gmail.com.