"Braille is a system of touch reading/writing (used by people who are blind), which utilizes raised dots to represent letters of the print alphabet. The braille system also includes symbols to represent punctuation, mathematical and scientific characters, music, computer notation and foreign languages." - Braille Revival League
There are two grades of braille. Grade one is a literal translation of every letter into a braille cell. Grade two is a "shorthand" conversion of braille with contractions and other compression techniques used to make reading braille more efficient. In general, materials should be produced in grade two braille unless otherwise specified.
Because braille materials can be very cumbersome for large amounts of information, it is helpful to work with users to clearly define what will be most efficient to have in braille format versus other formats. For a conference with a large amount of reference materials, the participant may decide having the conference program, session descriptions and room directions in braille, is preferred, with the rest of the materials better provided on audio cassette or computer disk. Also remember that not all individuals who are blind read braille. Many individuals who lose their vision later in life do not read braille and will need other forms of access to print materials.
An agency may choose to produce its own braille materials if it has the equipment needed. When producing braille materials, it is helpful to have access to a braille proofreader to assure accuracy of the material produced. Most entities will not have brailling equipment and will need to utilize an external resource to provide such conversion. If contracting for braille material production, it is best to seek out an established service.
Tips on Preparing Material for Brailling
- Know your brailling system (if you are doing your own braille production) and how it translates information into braille. If you are using an outside source to produce braille materials, find out exactly how they want materials provided to them (text file, hard copy, etc.) Typically it is less expensive to have materials brailled if you provide a "clean" text file, one that does not require extensive manipulation prior to brailling.
- Omit the use of "number" (#) signs because they are automatically inserted in front of numbers in Braille. Convert symbols, icons and other abbreviations to text.
- Convert symbols, icons and other abbreviations to text.
- Do not include extra blank lines in your text. Indicate new paragraphs with the use of one tab.
- Determine what commands the Braille software reads from your word-processed version. Typical commands include: center, tab, indent, (hard) return and page break.
- Use upper and lower case letters instead of all caps since upper case letters take twice as much space as lower case letters when brailled.
- Convert columns to continuous text. Tables, graphics and pictorial representations need to be converted to text.
- Eliminate the use of stylistic factors such as bold type, underlining and special symbols.
- Italics are the only stylistic type form that typically translates into Brailled formats.
- Convert any (·) bullets in the text to an asterisk (*) or a hyphen (-).
The following list of resources is not meant to be all inclusive but will provide a starting point for entities to access braille resources.
Wolfner Library is a public library for persons unable to use standard print due to a physical disability. Wolfner offers materials on recorded audio cassettes and will loan cassette players for use with the recorded materials; provides free mail library service to user's homes; has more than 375,000 fiction and non-fiction books and magazines, for all ages; answers reference questions and provides research for users by telephone, mail, FAX, TTY or in person; and provides children's summer reading program and other programs for children, including services to schools.
- Wolfner Library
- Missouri State Information Center
- 600 West Main
- P.O. Box 387
- Jefferson City, MO 65102-0387
- (800) 392-2614 (voice)
- (800) 347-1379 (TTY)
- (573) 526-2985 (FAX)
- Hours: 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (M-F)
- After hours answering machine
- Closed on state holidays
Midwestern Braille Volunteers provide braille for literary materials and textbooks, restaurant menus, edward jones stock reports, wedding invitations, tactile drawings, thermoforming and spiral binding. They sponsor transcribing classes, maintain a book-master collection, and provide a title list.
- Midwestern Braille Volunteers
- 325 N. Kirkwood Rd.
- St. Louis, MO 63122
The Low Vision Library is a special service of Alphapointe Association for the Blind. The staff of the Low Vision Library transcribes print materials into braille using a computer, braille translator and braille printer. Braille transcription of these print materials is provided for individuals, schools and businesses.
- K.C. Low Vision Library
- 311 East 12th Street
- Kansas City, MO 64106
- Contact: Ben Blagg
- (816) 842-7559 (voice)
- (816) 421-5848 - Alphapointe
- (816) 221-6095 (TTY)
- (816) 421-6523 (FAX)
The Delores R. Benjamin Braille Transcribers provides braille services for literary materials, math, textbooks, French and Spanish. Priority is given to people from Kansas School for the Blind.
- Delores R. Benjamin Braille Transcribers
- KS Instructional Resource Center
- Contact: Ed Handley
Missouri Rehabilitation Services for the Blind, via agreement with the Jefferson City Correctional Center, converts print materials into audio-cassette, disk, large print and braille. While the primary purpose of the agreement is to produce alternative format material for staff and clients of Rehabilitation Services for the Blind, other agencies and individuals may use the service. Costs are charged based on the type of alternative format requested.
- Rehabilitation Services for the Blind
- 3418 Knipp Drive
- P.O. Box 88
- Jefferson City, MO 65103
- Contact: Maureen Stocksick
The Independent Living Resource Center (ILRC) provides braille and large print for $0.30 per page. Information is preferred in ASCI text.
- Independent Living Resource Center (ILRC)
- 3620 West Truman Blvd., Suite D
- Jefferson City, MO 65109
- Contact: Stacey Schroeder
- (573) 556-0400 (voice and TTY)
- (573) 556-0402 (Fax)