Fact Sheet on Manual Braille Writing Aids and Labelers
Braille is a primary medium of reading and writing for people who are blind or have low vision. Although blind or visually impaired individuals are able to access print materials by using audio books or listening to a personal reader and can write by dictating to someone, many find that they can access information more quickly and perform tasks that involve reading or writing more efficiently using braille.
In the workplace and at school, knowing braille makes it possible for blind people to read and take notes independently, and it increases the amount of written material that is accessible to them. Braille can be used to write notes for a business presentation or speech. Teachers who are blind can use braille for lecture notes. Studies have found that the employment rate for blind people who know braille is higher than for those who don't (Ryles, 1996).
In daily life, there are many situations in which braille offers the best choice for independent action. For example, in restaurants blind people can make selections from braille menus without the assistance of a waiter or another diner. Braille can also be used to label cans and other containers, audio cassettes and CDs, clothing, and papers, so that people who are blind can identify these items without sighted help.
After several decades during which the use of braille declined among blind people in the United States, many have realized that newer technologies cannot fully replace braille, and there has been renewed interest in braille literacy among both educators and consumers. Since the early 1990s, more than half the states have passed braille literacy laws requiring that braille instruction be provided to all students who can benefit from it, including those who are currently able to read print but whose eyesight is medically expected to deteriorate with time. Many of these braille literacy laws also require publishers to make all textbooks sold in the state available in electronic formats that can be printed as braille.
In recognition of the braille literacy revival and the importance of braille as an independent living tool for visually impaired persons, this ABLEDATA Fact Sheet describes commercially available equipment, tools, and supplies for writing braille and creating braille labels. The Fact Sheet starts with a brief introduction to braille. It then describes manual braille writing aids (the braille equivalent of pens and pencils) and tools for creating braille labels. Its final sections include a list of manufacturers and selected distributors, a selective list of articles and publications for further reading, and information on organizations that are concerned with braille literacy.
For information on braille writers (the braille equivalent of typewriters), braille printers and copiers, and software tools for creating braille documents, readers should consult ABLEDATA's companion Fact Sheet on Braille Writers, Printers, and Software.
Note: This Fact Sheet mentions several specific products in order to illustrate general types. Reference to specific products does not constitute a recommendation or endorsement of any product by ABLEDATA or the U.S. Department of Education.
The braille system enables people who are blind to read using the sense of touch. Embossed dots represent letters, punctuation marks, numbers, musical notation, computer code, and scientific symbols. The fundamental unit of braille is the braille cell, composed of six dots, two columns across and three rows down. Dots in the six-dot cell are numbered from 1 to 6, as shown in Figure 1 below. Letters are represented by cells in which certain dots are embossed and the others left blank. For example, "a" is represented by a cell in which only dot 1 is embossed, "b" is represented by a cell with dots 1 and 2 embossed, "c" by a cell with dots 1 and 4 embossed, and so on.
Figure 1: A sample braille cell, showing the location of dots 1 through 6.
There are two "grades" of braille, Grade 1 and Grade 2. In Grade 1 braille, words are formed from letters in the usual alphabetic way. For example, the word "braille" would be written (embossed) as follows:
Figure 2: The word "braille" in Grade 1 braille.
In North America, braille is usually written with abbreviations and contractions. This is known as Grade 2 braille, in contrast to Grade 1 braille, which has no contractions. An example of a Grade 2 abbreviation is the use of "brl" for "braille"as seen in Figure 3.
Figure 3: "brl" in braille.
Contractions also are used for letters that often appear together in English, such as "th,""er," and "ing."
Figure 4: "ing" in Grade 1 and Grade 2 braille.
The Braille Authority of North America (BANA) establishes standards for braille usage in the United States and Canada. This organization sets rules for the use of braille contractions and for formatting documents and publications. Currently BANA has approved five braille codes:
- Literary braille, used for most ordinary documents
- Math braille, also called the Nemeth code, used for math and science
- Chemistry braille
- Computer programming braille
- Music braille.
In addition, BANA has established formatting rules for columns and tables.
Manual Braille Writing Aids
The slate and stylus are the essential manual braille writing aids. Together they are the equivalent of a pen or pencil for a sighted person. They are used to emboss dots on braille paper, or on file cards, plastic sheets, or other writing materials. Besides styluses, slates, and braille paper, other manual braille writing tools include erasers and labeling tape.
The Braille Stylus
The braille stylus is used to create raised dots on braille paper. It has a rounded steel point set in a wooden, metal, or plastic handle. As the point is pressed into one side of the paper, a raised dot appears on the other side. The point of the stylus is rounded so it will not poke through the paper but only push out the paper on the other side.
Stylus handles differ in shape and size, giving people options from which to choose a handle they can comfortably grasp. Some are bulbous or mushroom-shaped (Figure 8). Since styluses with round bulbous handles tend to roll, the so-called Standard style features a round handle with one flat side, designed to be non-rolling (Figure 5). Saddle-shaped handles (Figure 6) have two wings with a depression in the middle; users put a thumb or finger on the depression and push down. There are styluses with larger handles for easier grasping, and pencil styluses (Figure 7) that have their steel points encased in a slender shaft like a pencil. The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) sells a stylus with a fluorescent green handle designed to be easily seen by an individual with low vision, and therefore less easily misplaced.
The Braille Slate
The purpose of the slate is to hold the paper while guiding the stylus to create braille cells that are well formed and arranged in straight lines with proper spacing. The slate generally consists of a front and back plate joined with hinges. Most slates have pins to hold the paper in place when it is put between the two plates. The back plate has shallow holes arranged in three-hole by two-hole cells representing the six dots of the braille cell. The front plate has a series of rectangular openings, each with six indentations along its sides to guide the stylus into the corresponding shallow holes on the back plate. When the paper is placed between the plates and the stylus is pressed into it along one of these indentations, a raised dot is formed on the other side of the paper. The shallowness of the holes on the back plate prevents the rounded point of the stylus from poking through the paper. When the person is done brailling, the sheet is removed and turned over to be read.
Figure 9: These E-Z Read Slates from Howe Press are made of aluminum.
The one on the bottom is a jumbo slate used to emboss jumbo braille.
The two plates may be made of plastic, aluminum, or other metal. Slates vary in size depending on the number of lines and cells per line. Smaller slates are more portable, but larger ones are required for use with the wider 11 x 11½-inch paper often used for braille documents. Slates used with 8½ x 11-inch or 11 x 11½-inch paper sizes usually have lines with between 35 and 40 cells. Pocket slates have fewer cells per line, usually 19 or less.
Figure 10: The Interpoint Pocket Slate from the American Printing House for
the Blind has front and back plates joined with hinges.
Slates may incorporate features that make them easier or more convenient to use, or that enable the production of more useful braille documents. Among the slates with special features are the following:
Desk slates (also called board slates) come with a wooden or masonite board that provides a stiff, hard writing surface. The slate has pegs for attaching to holes in the board. After the first lines are written, the user opens the slate and slides it down the board until its pegs fit into the next set of holes. A clamp holds the braille paper in place. This process is continued until the whole sheet of paper is filled.
Figure 11: This Desk Slate from Howe Press comes with a board that holds the
slate in place as it is moved down a page for brailling.
Interpoint slates allow a user to write on both sides of the paper to create two-sided braille. Since braille consists of raised dots, this requires placing the cells on either side so that they do not cancel out dots on the other side. The advantage of two-sided braille is that it requires less paper.
Figure 12: The Can-Do Interpoint Page Slate from Independent Living Aids is
used to emboss two-sided Interpoint braille.
Jumbo slates are designed to produce braille with larger dots and increased spacing between dots, cells, and lines for users with reduced tactile sensitivity, such as people with diabetic neuropathy. Jumbo slates can be used with a jumbo stylus, which produces larger dots, or with a regular stylus, which results in sharp dots like those of standard braille, but with the increased spacing typical of jumbo braille.
Postcard slates are small slates (19 cells by 6 lines) used to take notes on index cards or small pieces of paper.
Open-back slates have backs that can be opened without dislodging the paper. Slates of this type include the Brown Slate from the American Printing House for the Blind (APH) and the E-Z Read series by Howe Press. When the back is opened, the paper remains held in place by pins, allowing the user to read what has been written so far. This feature is useful if the writer is interrupted while writing and doesnt quite recall where he or she left off. It also allows the writer to proofread and make corrections while in the middle of brailling a sheet of paper.
In contrast to the Brown Slate and E-Z Read Slate, which are designed for correcting braille while it is being written, correcting slates (also called correction slates) are designed for correcting a finished page that has already been removed from its original slate. The distinctive feature of correcting slates is that they either have no pins at all to hold the paper, or they have up pins, that is, pins on the back or bottom plate, not the front or top plate. Since the pins that hold paper in place make their own holes, putting a piece of paper that has already been brailled into a new slate can add unwanted holes, especially if the original slate was a different size. On an up-pin slate, the user can avoid new holes by carefully placing the paper so that its existing holes fit over the pins. A pinless slate serves the same purpose.
Labeling slates. Some slates have additional slots for embossing Dymo tape, ½-inch wide clear plastic or aluminum tape used for labeling tasks. One line slates are also sold for this purpose. Other specialty labeling slates include playing card slates for marking standard-sized playing cards, and a slate for brailling cassette labels, both sold by Howe Press.
In addition, some of the features described above can be combined. For example, APH manufactures an interpoint version of the postcard slate, and Howe Press makes a postcard slate in the EZ Read style.
Braille Erasers are used to flatten errant dots. Freestanding erasers made of wood or plastic are available, and styluses, like pencils, can come with or without erasers attached to them.
Figure 13: Braille Erasers from Howe Press.
Braille Paper is similar to ordinary inkprint paper, but heavier since it must be sturdy enough to retain raised dots as many readers move their fingers over them. Braille paper comes in heavy and lightweight grades, but even the lightweight grade is relatively heavy. The heavier grade of paper is recommended for use with a braille writer.
Braille paper comes in various sizes, including the 8½ by 11 inch size that is standard for use in braille printers and braille writers, and an 11 x 11½ inch size that is common for pages in braille books. Either size can be brailled with a wide slate. For use with a pocket slate, note-size braille paper is available in pads or looseleaf form. Standard index cards can also be used for this purpose and may serve just as well.
Colors include white, manila, and Kraft brown. Both full-size and note-size paper is available with holes pre-punched so the paper can be put into binders, including 3-ring and 6-ring binders and 19-hole spiral binders.
In addition to regular braille paper, there is also a brand of plastic paper called "Brailon," which is used with the copiers manufactured by American Thermoform Corporation. For more on Brailon, see the ABLEDATA Fact Sheet on Braille Writers, Printers, and Software.
Besides written documents, another popular use for braille is labeling. A variety of labeling materials and devices are available.
Adhesive labeling tape and sheets. As described in an earlier section of this Fact Sheet, some braille labeling slates are designed to emboss braille on ½inch wide adhesive labeling tape. Adhesive labeling tape is available in several different materials, including transparent vinyl, Teflon, and aluminum, and in other widths, such as 5/8 inch. Teflon labels can be sewn onto clothing to provide information about colors, and these labels will survive washing. In addition to labeling tape, there are also sheets of adhesive plastic that can be brailled using non-specialized slates and then cut into labels of the desired size.
Specialized labeling slates. Slates designed for labeling specific items such as playing cards and cassette labels were mentioned in the above section on braille slates.
Specialized non-slate braillers. A number of specialized non-slate braillers are available. An example is the Click Pocket Brailler sold by Maxi-Aids, which fits on a keychain and which is designed for marking paper money with braille numbers. It has two metal plates embossed with the braille numbers 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100. The appropriate number is embossed onto a bill by placing its edge between the plates and squeezing. No stylus is involved, so technically this brailler is not a braille slate.
Handheld braille labelers. The 3M Corporation makes a braille labeler that embosses braille on vinyl adhesive tape or magnetic tape. It is similar to the handheld devices used by sighted persons to emboss raised letters on labeling tape. It has a wheel that is turned to select the letters to be embossed, including the entire braille alphabet plus contractions. The wheel shows letters in both print and braille, so this labeler can be used by sighted persons who do not know braille but who want to create braille labels.
Figure 14: The 3M Braille Labeler is a handheld device used to emboss braille
on adhesive plastic tape.
Magnetic labeling tape and metal labelers. Magnetic labeling tape is used for metal surfaces. As indicated above, it can be brailled using the 3M Braille Labeler, or it can be brailled with the Braille Metal Labeler sold by Maxi-Aids.
Desktop braille labeler for sighted use. Except for the 3M Braille Labeler, the braille labeling devices mentioned so far require knowledge of braille. The KGS Braille Labeler is a desktop labeler that can also be used by persons with no braille experience. It makes transparent single-line adhesive labels, which can be used to label hotel keys, signs, simple maps, cassettes, CD cases, vending machines, telephones, and other items. To make a label, the user selects grade 1 (the default) or grade 2 braille, then chooses individual letters, numbers, and punctuation marks from a small visual screen. Text can be edited and stored in the unit's memory. When the user has finished entering the text to be embossed, the unit indicates which of three available label sizes (fitting 7, 15, or 25 braille characters) should be used.
Figure 15: The KGS Braille Labeler is an electronic labeler that is operated
through a keypad.
Dot inverter. The Swail dot inverter, sold by the American Printing House for the Blind, is a special braille stylus used to add braille to charts, diagrams, graphs, and maps. A sighted person adding braille to a map needs to see where the braille label should be located, but ordinary brailling is done from the back. The dot inverter allows brailling to be done from the front. Unlike a regular stylus that is pushed into the paper to form a raised dot on the other side, the dot inverter works by puncturing the paper on the down stroke and then pulling the paper upward on the up stroke to form a raised dot. A 12 by 12-inch, rubber pad is included with the dot inverter for protecting the table surface as the dot inverter is used.
Choosing Manual Braille Writing Aids and Labelers
Choosing Manual Braille Writing Tools.
The following are some considerations on choosing manual braille writing tools:
- Those who want to take notes on the go should try a pocket slate and note-size paper or index cards.
- Those who want to take notes in class or at business meetings may also want to consider a desk slate or other full size slate with 8.5 by 11-inch paper.
- Those with diabetic neuropathy should consider a jumbo slate, with or without a jumbo stylus, depending on whether they prefer reading from larger dots or more widely spaced dots.
- Those with grasping problems are likely to prefer a larger handle, possibly of the mushroom or saddle type.
Beyond these suggested guidelines, past experience is the best guide in choosing a handle style. Which style has been easiest to grasp with least fatigue? Those without experience may want to try different types to see what style feels comfortable.
What about people who don't know braille? A non-reader of braille would not want to use a slate and stylus, since their effective use requires knowledge of braille. As indicated above in the section on Braille Labelers, some braille labelers are designed specifically for sighted non-braille users. Another option for non-braille-users who want to make braille copies of school or workplace documents or braille labels for students, patrons, or employees is braille translation software used in combination with a braille printer. See the ABLEDATA Fact Sheet on Braille Writers, Printers, and Software for more information.
Manufacturer and Distributor Directory
The following companies sell manual braille writing aids and/or braille labelers and labeling supplies. For each manufacturer or distributor, we have provided full contact information (including street address, telephone [voice unless otherwise noted] and fax numbers, e-mail address, and Web address) and a brief list of the brands sold. When available, we have included the manufacturer's suggested retail price or the U.S. distributor's price for each brand as of May 2004.
Prices are subject to change and may vary depending on options selected.
3M General Offices, Mail Stop 224-5M-38
St. Paul, MN 55144 USA
Telephone: 612-737-9587 or 800-328-1063 toll free.
Web site: http://www.mmm.com/market/healthcare.
- 3M Braille Labeler.
American Printing House for the Blind (APH)
1839 Frankfurt Avenue
P. O. Box 6085
Louisville, KY 40206-0085 USA
Telephone: 502-895-2405 or 800-223-1839 toll free.
Web site: http://www.aph.org.
- Braille slates (correcting, desk, pocket, postcard, interpoint, and open back)
- Braille styluses (large and small handles and saddle-shaped)
- Braille erasers (wooden or plastic with large and narrow ends)
- Braille paper (3.75 x 5.75 inch white paper, 6-hole punched for pocket notebook; 8.5 x 11 and 11.5 x 11 inch unpunched, 3-hole punched, or 19-hole punched white or manila paper for slate and stylus or braille writer; and 11.5 x 11 inch unpunched, 3-hole punched, or 19-hole punched fanfold paper for braille embosser)
- Swail Dot Inverter (special braille stylus used for labeling maps), $33.
American Thermoform Corporation
1758 Brackett Street
La Verne, CA 91750 USA
Telephone: 909-593-6711 or 800-331-3676 toll free.
- Braillables and Embossables, (8.5 by 11 inch clear adhesive sheets that can be brailled and cut to size for labels; Embossables are in continuous fanfold sheets designed for use with braille printers), $12.95 for package of 12 Braillables and $28.95 for box of 50 Embossables.
Community Advocates, Inc.
P.O. Box 83304
Lincoln, NE 68501 USA
Telephone and Fax: 402-486-3091.
Web site: http://www.clickrule.com.
- Extra Jumbo Braille Labeler (jumbo labeling slate designed for use with Dymo tape, braille paper, and index cards).
Freedom Scientific Blind/Low Vision Group
11800 31st Court North
St. Petersburg, FL 33716-1805 USA
Telephone: 727-803-8000 or 800-444-4443 toll free.
Web site: http://www.freedomscientific.com.
- Braille labels (for cassettes and diskettes, made of fanfolded white Mylar plastic), $30 for box of 250.
Howe Press of the Perkins School for the Blind
175 North Beacon Street
Watertown, MA 02172-2790 USA
- Braille slates (E-Z Read, correction, desk, and pocket slates, single line slate for Dymo tape, and slates for labeling playing cards and cassettes)
- Braille erasers
- Braille styluses (regular, jumbo, and pencil-style)
- Braille paper (heavy and lightweight, 3-hole punched, and pads)
Independent Living Aids, Inc.
200 Robbins Lane
Jericho, NY 11753 USA
Telephone: 516-937-1848 or 800-537-2118 toll free.
- Can-Do slates (pocket, jumbo, interpoint) from $9.95 to $15.95
- Signature Guide Note-Taking Slate (4-line pocket slate with cut-out space to guide in writing signature), $9.95
- Braille styluses (standard, mushroom, and pencil), from 99 cents to $8.95
- Plastic Laminate (clear adhesive sheets that can be brailled and cut to size for labels), $1.49 per sheet
- Braillable Labels for Cassettes, $3.95 for 50 labels
- Labeling tape (clear plastic vinyl, Teflon, and magnetic)
- Also sells braille labelers from 3M.
1004 Ogawa, Ogawa-machi, Hiki-gun
Saitama 355-0321, Japan
Web site: http://www.kgs-jpn.co.jp.
Distributed in the U.S. by Enabling Technologies.
- KGS Braille Labeler, $995
42 Executive Boulevard
P. O. Box 3209
Farmingdale, NY 11735 USA
Telephone: 631-752-0521, 800-522-6294 toll free.
Web site: http://www.maxiaids.com.
- Braille Metal Labeler, $239.95
- Labeling tape (transparent vinyl, aluminum, and magnetic)
- Braille labeling sheets (magnetic and plastic laminate)
- Click Pocket Money Brailler (device for brailling denominations in braille on edges of $1, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100 bills), $2.95
- Also sells braille labelers from 3M.
- NFB Plastic Slate (4-line, 28-cell slate in bright yellow plastic), $4
- Braille slates (including desk or board, pocket, labeling, and open-back or Brown slate styles in plastic and aluminum), from $6 to $55
- Braille styluses (regular bulbous in black and fluorescent green, non-rolling, saddle-shaped, and swirl styles), $3
- Braille paper (five types of white paper: lightweight three hole punch, and form feed and heavyweight paper in legal and letter sizes)
- Wooden braille eraser, $3
- Labeling tape holder for Perkins Brailler, $26
- Plastic adhesive labeling sheets
- Transparent labeling tape (½ inch-wide plastic)
- Also sells braille labelers from 3M.
This list includes all the manufacturers of braille writing aids and labelers listed in the ABLEDATA product database as of May 2004. For an updated list of products, go to the ABLEDATA product database at http://www.abledata.com.
The records in the ABLEDATA database are provided for information purposes only. Neither the U.S. Department of Education nor Macro International Inc. have examined, reviewed, or tested any product, device, or information contained in ABLEDATA. The Department and Macro International Inc. make no endorsement, representation, or warranty express or implied as to any products, device, or information set forth in ABLEDATA.
For an updated list of Web links to manufacturers and distributors, go to the Blind and Low Vision Resource Center on the ABLEDATA Web site.
The following Web site discusses several different brands of braille slates and styluses, and may be useful in selecting a product. The views stated on the Web site are those of the site's author and do not reflect the opinions of ABLEDATA or the U.S. Department of Education.
Judy Dixon's Collection of Braille and Tactile-writing Slates.
This web site contains descriptions of each of the more than 200 different braille slates and styluses from around the world in the authors collection. The author offers a feature-by-feature critique of American slates illustrated by comparisons to slates from other countries.
Halliday, Jim. "A Fresh Look at Braille," Closing the Gap, Vol. 22, No. 5, December 2003/January 2004, pp. 1, 18.
This article re-examines of the issues discussed in Hallidays 1999 article, "Braille vs. Speech: Making Sense of the Debate," in light of technological advances and current research.
Halliday, Jim. "Braille vs. Speech: Making Sense of the Debate," Closing the Gap, Vol. 17, No. 6, February/March 1999, pp. 6-7, 26-27, 36.
This article discusses the comparative advantages and disadvantages for blind people of access to written materials through braille and speech in light of research by cognitive psychologists into learning, memory, and reading. The author argues that it is necessary to move beyond an "either/or" approach.
Mangold, Sally S. "Trends in the Use of Braille Contractions in the United
States: Implications for UBC Decisions," The Braille Monitor, Vol.
43, No. 9, October 2000.
The author argues for changes in the Unified Braille Code (UBC), including reductions in the number of contractions.
Maryland State Department of Education, Division of Special Education/Early
Intervention Services, February 1999. Ensuring the Production of Quality
Braille Instructional Materials for Students Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired:
A Guideline Document.
Model Braille Law (Braille Literacy Services for Blind or Visually Impaired
Children, State Model Bill). National Federation of the Blind, no date.
Pierce, Barbara, Ed. The World Under My Fingers: Personal Reflections on
Braille. Baltimore: National Federation of the Blind, 1995.
This book offers a collection of essays on the value of braille for blind people and the importance of learning braille as a child.
Ryles, Ruby. "The Impact of Braille Reading Skills on Employment, Incomes,
Education, and Reading Habits," Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness,
Vol. 90, No. 3, May-June 1996. http://www.braille.org/papers/jvib0696/vb960311.htm.
Excerpts reprinted with additional material in The Braille Monitor, Vol. 41, No. 2, February 1998.
Sanspree, Mary Jean. "Early Literacy: Braille and the Young Child,"
See Hear, Summer 1998.
This article discusses how to decide when a child should be taught braille. It is written from the viewpoint of a professional talking to parents.
Sources of Custom-Produced Books: Braille, Audio Recordings, and Large Print. Washington, DC: National Library Service for the Blind and Physically
Handicapped (NLS), 2001.
This directory lists volunteer groups, individual transcribers, and nonprofit and commercial organizations in each state who transcribe and record books and other reading materials for persons who are blind and physically handicapped. It includes a separate list of braille proofreaders certified by the Library of Congress.
Sutton, Jennifer. A Guide to Making Documents Accessible to People Who Are
Blind or Visually Impaired. Washington, DC: American Council of the Blind
The section on braille discusses the use of braille translation software, and how to emboss, bind, and label braille documents.
Walhof, Ramona. "Braille Contractions: Are They Really So Hard?"
The Braille Monitor, Vol. 44, No. 4, April 2001.
The author responds to the Sally Mangold 2000 article cited above.
Whittle, Jerry. "Learning Braille As an Adult: Read Until You Bleed,"
The Braille Monitor, Vol. 45, No. 3, April 2002.
This article discusses what is necessary to acquire braille reading speed as an adult.
For an updated list of publications on braille writing aids, braille labelers, and other products for people who are blind, go to the A.T. Library in the Reading Room.
Organizations That Promote Braille Literacy
The following organizations promote braille literacy, as well as providing other services and information related to blindness and low vision.
American Council of the Blind (ACB)
1155 15th Street NW, Suite 720
Washington, DC 20005 USA
Telephone: 800-424-8666 toll free or 202-467-5081.
Web site: http://www.acb.org.
The ACB is a leading membership organization of blind and visually impaired people, with 51 state and regional affiliates and 20 national special interest and professional affiliates. One of these affiliates, the Braille Revival League, was established to promote braille literacy. ACB's monthly magazine, the Braille Forum, often features articles on topics related to braille.
American Foundation for the Blind (AFB)
15 West 16th Street
New York, NY 10011 USA
Web site: http://www.afb.org.
The AFB is a nonprofit organization assisting blind and visually impaired persons to achieve equality of access and opportunity through advocacy, information and education programs, development and evaluation of assistive technology, and direct service provision. AFB publishes books, pamphlets, periodicals, bibliographies, and videos on topics relating to blindness and visual impairment. AFB's National Literacy Center promotes braille literacy with educational publications. It has a free quarterly newsletter, DOTS for Braille Literacy. AFBs Technology Center tests and evaluates assistive technology for blind and visually impaired persons, and its product evaluations are published regularly in Access World, a bimonthly publication from AFB.
Chartered in 1858, APH is the oldest and largest printing house serving blind people in the world. Since 1879, congressional appropriations have supported publication of books in braille, large print, and recorded format for blind students under college age. An annual report on students who receive aid under this system includes data on the distribution of students by reading media (visual, braille, and auditory readers, pre-readers, and non-readers). APH also manufactures and sells adaptive equipment and educational tools including braille slates, styluses, and paper (see the "Manufacturer and Distributor Directory" above for more information).
Braille Authority of North America (BANA)
Web site: http://www.brailleauthority.org.
BANA is the internationally recognized standards setting agency for braille codes used in the United States. Its braille code standards are presented in volumes published by the American Printing House for the Blind.
Web site: http://www.braillejail.net.
Braille Jail is a remote learning site for blind and visually impaired people, providing on-line courses on braille and other subjects.
Braille through Remote Learning (BRL)
Web site: http://www.brl.org.
Braille through Remote Learning is an online instructional program that provides teachers, parents, social workers, and current/future braille transcribers with a series of three integrated online courses in braille and braille transcribing.
Braille Revival League
Contact: DeAnna Noriega, President
PO Box 1104
Manitou Springs, CO 80829 USA
The Braille Revival League is a national organization formed for the purpose of promoting braille literacy among children and adults who are blind or have visual impairments. The organization is an affiliate of the American Council of the Blind.
National Association to Promote the Use of Braille
Contact: Nadine Jacobson, President
5805 Kellogg Avenue
Edina, MN 55424-1819 USA
Web site: http://www.nfbcal.org/napub/napub.htm.
The National Association to Promote the Use of Braille is a division of the National Federation of the Blind. It is comprised of braille users and others interested in encouraging the use of braille by blind children and youth. The association encourages local school districts and residential schools to offer braille instruction as an essential skill that all blind children should acquire even if they use other alternative media as well. Through legislative advocacy, the organization seeks to establish standards for teachers. The association sponsors an annual "Braille Readers Are Leaders" contest in cooperation with the NFB.
National Braille Association, Inc. (NBA)
3 Townline Circle
Rochester, NY 14623-2513 USA
Web site: http://nationalbraille.org.
The NBA is a national association of volunteer and professional braille transcribers. For members, NBA provides continuing education and other professional services. It maintains the Braille Book Bank, a depository of textbooks, career and general interest materials, and music. For braille readers, NBA provides transcription and duplication services. Its transcription service will accept textbooks, technical material, music, and items of a more general nature when transcribers with the necessary skills are available. Its duplication service furnishes Thermoform or embossed copies of the masters in the Braille Book Bank collection.
National Braille Press
88 St. Stephens Street
Boston, MA 02115 USA
Telephone: 888-965-8965 toll free or 617-266-6160.
Web site: http://www.nbp.org.
National Braille Press is a publisher of braille books.
The NFB is a national advocacy organization run by and for blind and visually impaired persons, with chapters in 50 states and the District of Columbia. The NFB operates a national information/resource center, the National Center for the Blind. Its Materials Center sells braille and labeling supplies (see the Manufacturers and Distributors Directory for more information). The NFB sponsors various projects to encourage braille literacy including an annual "Braille Readers Are Leaders" contest for blind children and youth. Its monthly magazine, the Braille Monitor, often features articles on braille literacy.
National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped
1291 Taylor Street NW
Washington, DC 20542 USA
Telephone: 800-424-9100 toll free or 202-707-5100.
Web site: http://www.loc.gov/nls/.
The NLS maintains a collection of full-length braille and recorded books and magazines for free loan to eligible individuals who cannot hold, handle, or read conventional printed matter. Books, magazines, and playback equipment provided by NLS is distributed through a national network of state and regional libraries to residents of the United States and its territories.
Tactile Access to Education for Visually Impaired Students (TAEVIS)
Purdue University, Office of the Dean of Students
509 Harrison Street
West Lafayette, IN 47907-2025 USA
Web site: http://www.taevisonline.purdue.edu.
This project at Purdue University investigates and develops new products and systems to streamline and economize the process of braille transcription, and makes innovations and materials available to other schools, thus allowing greater access to education for braille readers.
Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired
1100 W. 45th St.
Austin, TX 78756 USA
Telephone: 800-872-5273 toll free or 512-454-8631.
Web site: http://www.tsbvi.edu.
The Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired Web site offers extensive resources on the education of blind and visually impaired students, including information on braille learning and educational materials in braille.
For an updated listing of resources for people who are blind or have low vision, go to the Blind and Low Vision Information Center at the ABLEDATA Web site, http://www.abledata.com.
This fact sheet was researched and written by David G. Johnson and was produced by ABLEDATA. ABLEDATA is funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) under contract number ED-02-CO-0038 and is operated by ORC Macro.
8630 Fenton Street, Suite 930
Silver Spring MD 20910 U.S.A
Telephone: 800-227-0216 toll free in the U.S.; 301-608-8998 local call in the
Washington, D.C. area.
All ABLEDATA publications and the ABLEDATA database of assistive technology are available on the ABLEDATA Web site, http://www.abledata.com.
© 2004, ORC Macro and the U.S. Department of Education.
Eight-dot systems have been proposed for use in a unified braille code, which would replace todays separate six-dot codes for math, science, music, computer programming, and standard written language. However, an eight-dot system has not been officially adopted, and only six-dot systems are widely used.