Recordings of all of the proceedings of the General Assembly along with commentary from the live stream will be available to download from this page within 24 hours of the end of each session. Please note that these files will be several hours long; chapter marks will be embedded to aid navigation on supported devices.
You will also be able to access all pre-recorded content, such as the paper presentations, in audio form from this page. We aim to make the papers for each day available the previous day. Please register to attend via the relevant page on the UKAAF website if you wish to access them sooner.
A podcast feed of all content on this page can be found by searching for "ICEB 2020" in many podcast clients. The direct URL to the RSS feed is: https://live.braillecast.com/podcast.php. Alternatively, you can use this link to access the podcast via Apple Podcasts.
Presented by Matthew Horspool
A short introduction to the coverage.
Presented by Matthew Horspool and Holly Scott-Gardner
Includes welcomes, Keynote Speech, Introduction of Delegates and Observers, procedural matters, First Report of the Nominations Committee, President's Report, In Memoriam and Country Reports.
By Darren Paskell
Featuring red buses, Big Ben, the London Underground, the fashionable Bloomsbury District, RNIB and Thomas Pocklington Trust.
By Matthew Horspool
UK City of Culture 2021. Featuring Lady Godiva, rising from the ashes, peace and reconciliation and Exhall Grange School.
By Roger Firman and Claire Gailans
Presented by Roger Firman and James Bowden
Braille music in a digital age presents many challenges and opportunities in a changing environment. In the past, braille music has enabled employment, learning and leisure opportunities. In the present age, new ways of working, studying and leisure pursuits are being created along with emerging technologies, which will surely build on more traditional approaches and offer a more diverse range of solutions.
Roger Firman: Chair of the UK Association for Accessible Formats; Vice-Chair of the UKAAF Music Subject Area; Lead on the UKAAF MSA Braille Music Task Group; UK consultant on former BANA Braille Music Technical Committee; UK Representative on ICEB Braille Music Committee; UK Lead on DAISY Braille Music Project; Chief Executive, Golden Chord
Clare Gailans: Member of UKAAF; Chair of the UKAAF MSA; Former proof-reader and transcriber of braille music for almost 30 years; since 2004, braille music tutor both to individuals and as part of the provision for visually impaired students at the Royal College of Music and Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama
We would like to express thanks to the ICEB 2020 Review Committee for selecting our submission to present at the 7th General Assembly, and publish this paper in its proceedings arising from the Assembly.
Where mention is made of specific companies/organisations/software, this should not be regarded as an endorsement, rather as information which may be of benefit.
By Jordie Howell, Vision Australia
Over the past fifty years music has been transcribed using a variety of methods. Music transcribers who are fully sighted have transcribed on Perkins Braillers or computer from the printed score. Blind transcribers have worked with an amanuensis to produce a) scores from dictation on the slate and stylus, b) Perkins or computer with braille display output, or c) copied out scores from earlier braille editions and made alterations as necessary.
Braille music translation packages have begun to change the landscape for braille transcription internationally. Suddenly, sighted musicians at universities who know nothing about braille can produce legible braille music with the aid of translation, and blind musicians are able to download scores online to run through a braille music translation package for use in rehearsals. They log into the Vision Australia library catalogue, download the brf file onto their braille notetaker which provides options for using the electronic version, or emboss out a hard copy.
Until fairly recently, Vision Australia only produced braille music manually. That is, a blind transcriber worked with a sighted volunteer who is proficient in print music, and dictated the score. This method is still in place, and the process has been refined over the years with a shorthand terminology that makes the process more efficient. However vision Australia also employs a sighted transcriber who works both manually and electronically. Print music editing software (Sibelius and photoscore) are used to achieve good quality scanned images which convert to print music notation. These are then translated through the Dancing Dots suite of programs to convert to braille music.
This presentation will:
By Dr Meysam Khataminia
I am a lecturer in Persian and Arabic literature at the University of Tehran. I lost my sight when I was 14 years old and have since become an award-winning pianist, conductor, composer and arranger, written two books in Persian on music theory and piano lessons levels one and two and, in 2009, established Afra, the largest music school in Eastern Tehran. My music school currently boasts 500 students and more than 30 teachers, teaching traditional, pop and classical music. All of the profits of Afra go toward providing Braille music supplies for my many blind music students.
In this presentation I will discuss some of the difficulties blind students in countries with low-income economies face in accessing braille technology and supplies, using Iran as a case study, as well as other access issues to braille music.
By Dr Sarah Morley Wilkins, Arne Kyrkjebø and Haipeng Hu
Presented by Dr Sarah Morley Wilkins
This project originated from the shared needs of blindness agencies wanting to secure and future-proof their music braille production services in the face of declining expertise, tools which need further development, and a lack of standards for effective file-sharing. The work was initially funded by the Norwegian Library of Talking Books and Braille (NLB), and the Norwegian Association for the Blind, and since January 2020 is funded by wider sector contributions.
Two international surveys identified the factors involved in supporting blind people with music braille resources for education, employment and leisure, including the production and the teaching and learning of music braille.
Our collaboration will improve the reliability and efficiency of music braille conversion into embossed scores and digital files - by improving existing tools and music braille file format standards, and enhancing opportunities for global file-sharing and professional networking.
The sector agreed that it is currently best to build improvements in existing tools to secure: a robust professional tool(s) for agencies to perform music braille conversion, and an interactive tool(s) for users to create, learn and output music in accessible formats.
We prioritized tool requirements through sector consultation and systematic testing. We now have cycles of phased tool development, testing, and release of improved/new features underway, and resources for professionals are being prepared.
Additionally, we are influencing MusicXML 3.2 and developing guidelines for mainstream music notation engraving to try to improve source files – to get better conversions into music braille.
The project addresses core technical issues, running over 3 years 2020 to end 2022, but related issues including international codes and layouts, and teaching and learning resources also need attention from other organisations.
Dr Sarah Morley Wilkins: Project Manager and User Experience Consultant, UK
Arne Kyrkjebø: Project Lead; Director of Development, Norwegian Library of Talking Books and Braille (NLB), Oslo
Haipeng Hu: Music Braille Technical Consultant; BrailleOrch, China
Presented by Matthew Horspool, Sally Clay and Holly Scott-Gardner
Includes a nominations update, the report of the Music Braille Committee, braille music papers, the Constitution and Bylaws Report, the Treasurer's Report and the Promotion and Publicity Report.
By Mandy White
European Capital of Culture. Featuring the Royal School for the Blind, St Vincent's, an Anglican and Roman Catholic Cathedral, Liverpool FC and Everton football clubs, the capital of pop and the Liverpool accent.
By Judy Dixon
Braille Bonus by Judy Dixon, Owner, BrailleSlates.org
By James Bowden: Braille Technical Officer, Royal National Institute of Blind People; Chair of Braille Coding Group, UK Association for Accessible Formats
The RNIB has an extensive braille library available for customers to borrow in hard copy. Each book consists of several weighty volumes which are sent out and returned by free post.
With the advent of more affordable braille displays, more customers are asking if they can borrow the electronic files to read in digital form. This saves time, energy and resources.
In this paper we discuss steps to convert multi-volume braille files, which are suitable for embossing, to single volume files, more suited for use with braille displays.
We discuss the differences between embossable braille files and those for braille displays, as well as processes which can automate converting large numbers of existing titles and the changes to transcription processes that might be needed for producing new books in the future.
We touch on some of the main advantages and limitations of using electronic braille on current technology.
With no physical pages, we discuss the techniques customers can use to efficiently navigate the text using a braille display, and consider if new braille file formats might further improve navigational possibilities.
We concentrate on the braille layout used in the UK and by RNIB, but briefly consider any potential differences with the main features of other systems of braille layout and how these differences might affect navigating using current technologies.
By Jennifer Dunnam: Manager of Braille Programs, National Federation of the Blind; Immediate Past Chair, Braille Authority of North America
Electronically-generated braille is a foundational tool for literacy for blind people in our digital age. Unified English Braille (UEB), with its clearly defined rules and symbol structures, provides, on its own or in combination with other specialized braille codes, a means to render both accurate braille representation of any non-image-based content that originated in print, and accurate translation from braille to print of material electronically typed in braille.
In the years since Unified English Braille became the official standard braille code in ICEB member countries (four years ago for the United States, and much longer ago for others), some strides have been made in improving the accuracy of electronic print-to-braille and braille-to-print translation. However, some significant difficulties remain, placing unnecessary limits on the reliability of braille as a means for communication and collaboration.
This paper will explore the progress in improving accuracy of electronic braille since 2016 (including external, related technological developments); the details and impacts of some of the persistent but demonstrably correctable problems with electronic translation; and suggestions for bringing about improvements.
By Jen Goulden: Crawford Technologies; Treasurer and Canadian Delegate, International Council on English Braille
If someone had told me ten years ago that I could access nearly any book I wanted and that I could even read it in braille I would never have believed it. Automated braille translation (such as Apple's built-in braille support) has gone a long way towards making this a reality. Having said this, generating braille without human intervention does have its drawbacks. When is automated braille a viable option, when is it problematic and when is it quite simply a dream come true?
In this paper I will discuss the technical aspects of braille automation. I will also provide an overview of the advantages and disadvantages of automatic braille translation.
By Kathy Riessen: Coordinator, Accessible Format Production, South Australian School for Vision Impaired; Executive member, Australian Braille Authority
As a sighted transcriber with the Department for Education in South Australia, I transcribe into braille literary, mathematics and other technical material, music, and languages such as French, German, Italian, Indonesian and Japanese. As technology has advanced and with the adoption of Unified English Braille, in the 30 plus years of my career, I have seen many changes.
One of the biggest changes that has occurred in the past 30 years is being able to source electronic documents to speed up the production of braille.
When I started my career as a transcriber, I would be given a paper document or book to painstakingly reproduce into braille using a Perkins Brailler. I was able to reproduce the text according to what my eyes and brain interpreted the text was saying. Then came the advent of the personal computer with word processing software. As these became more available braille translation software was developed which could take an electronic document and translate it into braille from which a hard copy could be made using an embosser. I could take my printed document and manually create an electronic document either typing it directly or scanning and editing. This document would then be put through translation software, edited and embossed. Again, as I created the word processing document, I was able to ensure that what I read with my eyes on the page was faithfully reproduced into braille.
The next technological development was OCR software whereby a printed page could be scanned and converted to electronic text, eliminating the need for manual typing. Around the same time came the braille display whereby not all braille needed to be physically embossed but could be read directly from a computer.
Now, more often than not, our source document comes to us already in an electronic format whether it is from a classroom teacher or a publisher. I now rarely need to manually type or scan text to produce braille.
Over the years, the accuracy of braille translation software has undergone continual improvement to the extent that the accuracy of translation is extremely high including mathematical and technical material.
But … the question needs to be asked, “is an electronic document the same as a printed document?” How can we ensure that an electronic document when translated to braille to be either physically embossed or read via a braille display, will accurately reflect what the original document says?
My personal experience is that whilst this is mostly correct, this assumption cannot be made.
By Dave Williams and James Bowden
This paper describes RNIB's systematic approach to reviewing and rectifying shortcomings in the open source Liblouis braille translation library relied on by popular screen reading and transcription products and services.
Since 2018, RNIB and international partners have identified over 3,000 errors in the existing Unified English Braille implementation, making Liblouis unsuitable in many education and employment settings. The paper describes the steps taken to collate lists of errors; work toward implementing corrections; and collaborate with international partners for peer review.
Underpinning this work is the global move to digital braille delivery, lower cost braille technology and UEB's reduced translation ambiguity.
While the Liblouis UEB table remains the primary focus of this work, other braille tables, e.g. Afrikaans, refer to the UEB table for underlying symbols.
The paper describes the process used to review the existing UEB tables, compile lists of errors, compare rules with dictionaries, devise new rules, test against word lists, peer review and sign in changes.
Stakeholders standing to benefit from this work include, but are not limited to, individual users of screen readers and braille translation software, students, teachers, transcribers, publishers, hardware and software manufacturers and rehabilitation professionals. The paper proposes practical ways in which stakeholders can support the project improving braille translation accuracy for everyone.
Dave Williams: Customer Experience Manager, Consumer Services, Royal National Institute of Blind People; Member of the Braille General Group, UK Association for Accessible Formats
James Bowden: Braille Technical Officer, RNIB; Chair of the UKAAF Braille Coding Group
By Kirsten Roberts
As a blind adult who has learnt braille from my infancy and who has used braille throughout my professional and personal adult life, I feel it is important to emphasise the impact of using braille technology on a person's every-day life.
Braille devices are becoming more numerous and smaller, meaning they are portable and as such they can be used for a greater range of activities.
Braille devices can be stand-alone or connected to a range of other devices and this makes them more versatile and portable. Access to books has become more mainstream and braille devices can be used to read these rather than a reliance on audio.
Social media is a big part of people's lives and this can be accessed through the use of a braille device.
Use of the internet is essential to a person with a vision impairment today, and activities such as research; shopping or studying can be done easily using a braille device.
Watching foreign films using a braille display and certain devices is now possible as subtitles can be read and are available to a person with a vision impairment.
Plus more … Use of braille may increase privacy and multi-tasking. Access to such technologies means less to carry around. The adult with a vision impairment is able to use a range of technologies for a range of purposes and can choose what is best for the task. There are of course limitations and negatives and I am not advocating this as a do-all approach, but in teaching blind young people and adults to use a range of technologies (and braille seems to be an obvious example) it will make them more able to work in a range of ways.
Presented by Matthew Horspool and Holly Scott-Gardner
Includes an agreement to refer the constitution and bylaws changes to the incoming Executive Committee, the report of the Braille Technology Committee, braille technology papers and the Code Maintenance Report and discussion.
By Mike Hudson
Braille Bonus by Mike Hudson, Museum Director, American Printing House for the Blind
By Elin Williams
Featuring the Welsh language, the longest place name in Europe, castles, Eisteddfod and famous Welsh people.
By Patricia d'Apice: Consultant, Teleschool Remote Service, Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children
The results of the research into Oral Reading Fluency (ORF) of children around Australia and New Zealand who read braille will be shared. There were 73 students in total. These results were compared to Australian sighted normative data. Results were similar to findings in the United States where their rates were predicted to be lower than their sighted peers.
As well as students, 23 Itinerant Teachers gave feedback regarding braille specific resources and teaching strategies they found to be useful. These will be outlined in the presentation.
As well as the teachers' feedback, resources have been specifically produced to try and reduce the fluency gap. These are available for perusing.
By Cathy Senft-Graves, American Printing House for the Blind; and Cay Holbrook, University of British Columbia
There are many little ways to enlarge your child's world. Love of books is the best of allJacqueline Kennedy Onassis
More than at any other time, when I hold a beloved book in my hand my limitations fall from me, my spirit is free.Helen Keller
In social gatherings it is not unusual to hear someone say “I love to read,” and a discussion inevitably ensues that includes shared reading experiences and requests for book recommendations. These discussions often involve people from very diverse backgrounds with no limitations related to how the reader accesses the books (print, braille, hard copy book, electronic version). The declaration “I love to read” in these discussions reflects a love for story, curiosity about different life experiences, exploration of far-off lands, and playfulness within written language.
Somewhat related, but quite different, is a sentiment that is heard frequently from people who know braille, and that sentiment is often expressed as “I love braille,” which refers to a love for the usefulness, elegance, logic, and history of the six-dot cell. Love of braille is a reflection of respect for the way that braille represents English (and other languages). Love of braille also results in discussions among like-minded people about rules and characteristics of braille (favorite contractions could be discussed) and how braille was learned.
The difference between “I love to read” and “I love braille” is subtle but important when considering literacy instruction for young braille readers. Parents and teachers want children to develop foundational skills that support the acts of reading and writing braille and are also concerned with inspiring a love of reading.
The purpose of this paper is to discuss the importance of an approach to teaching braille reading and writing that provides a balance across complex instructional goals resulting in highly skilled readers and writers and also individuals who love, enjoy, and participate in literacy activities. While reading and writing skills provide a critical foundation for literacy, the way that these skills are fashioned into an individual love of reading and writing builds richness and power into the role literacy plays in the social, emotional, and employment aspects of students with visual impairments as they become adults. This paper will address the instructional needs and some strategies for developing reading and writing skills and a love of literacy. In order to be as specific as possible, an existing literacy program, Building on Patterns, will provide an example of a resource that assists educational teams address the instructional needs of young children to help them grow into mature readers and writers.
By Maritza Medina González: MA in TESOL, Michigan State University
This project was designed to improve the inclusive nature of courses on language learning and teaching through the creation of Adaptive English Phonetic tools (ADEPT) to provide better access to the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) symbols and the sounds they represent for blind and low vision learners and teachers of American English as a second or foreign language. This approach involved the integration of auditory and tactual information to facilitate the development of phonological literacy based on the effectiveness of multisensory training protocols.
ADEPT consists of sets of tactile IPA symbol cards, and a companion website based on the Universal Design for Learning framework. Each IPA symbol card includes the symbol, its typographical description, and a reference number associated with the website (all with corresponding Braille notations). The website includes printed and audio-recorded information on the articulation of American English consonants and vowels with recordings of each sound in isolation and in sample words.
The pedagogical efficacy of these tools was tested with 21 adult learners of English in Colombia with a focus on vowel production. A pretest-posttest design involving the delayed repetition technique was used. Learners' productions of short sentences with multiple exemplars of American English vowels were audio-recorded. Native-speaker ratings revealed a significant improvement in learners' pronunciation after 10 weeks of instruction. Qualitative data included pre- and post-study interviews and the researcher's instructional notes. Learners described the auditory-tactual approach as “invaluable”. Field testing of the symbol cards indicated that they should be 3D printed for sustainability. In sum, ADEPT can facilitate a collaborative learning environment for sighted and non-sighted individuals.
By Dr Tina S Herzberg
Presented by Drs Tina S Herzberg and Penny Rosenblum
A student who uses both print and braille for literacy tasks is referred to as a dual media learner. Some students begin literacy instruction as dual media learners, other students begin as print readers and later learn to read braille, and a few students initially read braille and later learn to read print. There is little understanding of how a student with a visual impairment who transitions from print to braille during his/her late elementary or secondary education utilizes both of these learning media in conjunction with technology to complete literacy tasks. The purpose of this study was to gather information directly from secondary students with visual impairments and their educational team regarding the complexities of completing literacy based tasks at school and home as they learn braille due to a recent loss of ability to see and read print efficiently.
Dr Tina S Herzberg: Professor and Coordinator, Visual Impairment Education Program, University of South Carolina Upstate
Dr Penny Rosenblum: American Foundation for the Blind
By Natalina Martiniello MSc CVRT and Walter Wittich PhD CVLT FAAO
Presented by Natalina Martiniello MSc CVRT
As the prevalence of age-related vision loss continues to increase, rehabilitation specialists encounter a growing number of working-age and older adults who experience reading related difficulties. In the United States alone, the prevalence of age-related vision loss is expected to double by 2050, placing increasing burdens on healthcare and rehabilitation systems. Previous research on braille learning in the past has focused primarily on the needs of blind children who acquire braille as a literacy medium. Far less is known about the unique experience of braille learning in adulthood following acquired vision loss, or about the impact of aging and other factors on this process.
The primary goal of this multiphase research is to add to the limited body of knowledge about braille learning and usage among working-age and older adults. Collectively, these studies explore the influence of age-related physiological and cognitive factors on braille reading performance, as well as the enablers and obstacles encountered by working-age and older adults who pursue braille rehabilitation training. The findings shed much-needed light on the experience of learning and using braille in adulthood and will contribute to the development of evidence-based practices that better meet the unique needs of a rapidly aging population.
Natalina Martiniello MSc CVRT: Wittich Vision Impairment Research Laboratory, École d'optométrie, Université de Montréal, Canada; CRIR/Centre de réadaptation Lethbridge-Layton-Mackay du CIUSSS Centre-Ouest-de-l'Île-de-Montréal, Canada
Walter Wittich PhD CVLT FAAO: École d'optométrie, Université de Montréal, Canada; CRIR/Centre de réadaptation Lethbridge-Layton-Mackay du CIUSSS Centre-Ouest-de-l'Île-de-Montréal, Canada; CRIR/Institut Nazareth et Louis-Braille du CISSS de la Montérégie-Centre, Montréal, Canada
By Sean Randall, IT Specialist and Susan J Potter, Head of Braille, New College Worcester
NCW is a secondary school for vision-impaired students. For decades, braille has been a fundamental tool enabling vision-impaired people to read and write. Yet fluency in the reading of braille, plus its ready availability, has been in decline of late. Through personal experience, case studies and conclusions we aim to explore how this is changing in today's world and how technology and braille are dynamically and successfully working together to promote wider reading, writing and much more.
By Samuel Foulkes and Tina Seger
Clovernook Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired opened its doors in 1903, and is located in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA. Clovernook's Braille Printing House has been in operation since 1914, when a printing press was donated to the organization. Braille production has evolved considerably over the years, and today Clovernook is a global producer of braille – over 20 million pages of braille are shipped to libraries and individuals each year. Much of Clovernook's work is on a contractual basis with the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled (NLS), Library of Congress, which provides accessible materials to their patrons.
Clovernook also produces a number of additional publications, as well as menus, business cards, calendars, and other assorted braille items. A recent addition to Clovernook's services is an Arts & Accessibility Initiative which subsidizes the production of accessible materials for cultural institutions. At Clovernook, each step of the braille production process is able to be performed in-house – this includes scanning, transcription, proofreading, embossing, binding, and shipping. Clovernook is also a founding member of the Braille Authority of North America (BANA).
NLS has offered braille transcription courses and professional certifications since the 1960s. These courses are available free of charge to any citizen or resident of the United States, function as an industry requirement for many state and federal braille production contracts, and aim to ensure that braille transcribers and proofreaders are familiar with the established rules and guidelines of braille codes used in the United States.
In November 2012, Unified English Braille (UEB) was adopted by BANA's United States members and implementation began in January 2016. Prior to UEB, English Braille American Edition (EBAE) and Nemeth Braille Code for Mathematics and Science Notation (Nemeth) were the braille codes used for producing braille materials in the United States.
As NLS began updating its courses to reflect the new code, it was determined that a new course was needed. The Literary Braille Transcribing course focused on teaching the basics of how to transcribe “literary” materials – it did not address the transcription of mathematics or technical subjects. Moreover, with the adoption of UEB and retention of Nemeth, two viable mathematic codes were now official in the United States – however the Nemeth certification course was the only NLS course that covered mathematics.
In the fall of 2016, under contract with NLS, Clovernook began developing the Technical Braille Transcribing course – an NLS certification course for the transcription of mathematics and technical materials using UEB.
By Donal Fitzpatrick and Azadeh Nazemi, School of Computing, Dublin City University
Presented by Donal Fitzpatrick, School of Computing, Dublin City University
For many students, mathematics represents a significant educational challenge. This is exacerbated in the context of blind students who must not only learn the concepts underpinning this discipline, but must also become proficient in the UEB linear representation. In this paper we outline a new tool, based on UEB, which aims to reduce the barriers of communication between the student and their teacher. We describe a web-based editor named Euromath and the newly designed conversion library which enables translation of mathematics presented in MathML into Unified English Braille (UEB).
Presented by Matthew Horspool and Holly Scott-Gardner
Includes braille literacy and learning papers, the Second Report of the Nominations Committee and a second Code Maintenance Committee discussion.
By James Bowden
Featuring Worcestershire Porcelain, Lea & Perrins (Worcestershire sauce), Sir Edward Elgar, Worcester Cathedral, the Three Choirs Festival, the River Severn, seaguls, the Worcester County Cricket Ground, flooding, the city walls, the Commandery and New College Worcester.
By Cathy Rundle
Braille Bonus by Cathy Rundle, Accessibility Consultancy and User Experience Team, Royal National Institute of Blind People.
Presented by Matthew Horspool and Holly Scott-Gardner
Includes the resolutions, introduction of incoming executive, looking ahead, closing comments, thanks and farewells.
By Stacy Scott and Louise Neeson
Featuring the unicorn, red heads, the shortest commercial flight, islands, international association football, UFO Capital of the World; Game Of Thrones, Snow Patrol, Irish Whisky, RMS Titanic, George Best and Jordanstown School.
By Pat Farrell
Braille Bonus by Pat Farrell, coin collector, Republic of Ireland
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