“There is no substitute for the ability to read.
For blind people, braille is an essential tool in the process of becoming literate.”


September 2015 • Issue #2

This newsletter is designed to keep you up to date about what is happening in your BLC, to share with you upcoming events and useful resources.  Please send feedback or items to include in the next newsletter to info@blc-lbc.ca.  Please share this with anyone who may be interested in reading it. If you are not a member please join BLC.

Braille Challenge 2015

Canada has a winner in the National Braille Challenge 2015 which was held in Los Angeles.  Maggie Wehrle from Victoria, British Columbia placed second in the Apprentice category.  Maggie who is eight years old answered a few questions for us;

1. What did you enjoy most about attending the challenge in LA?
    The competition! The reading comprehension, the proofreading and the spelling. I liked them all and  doing THE CHALLENGE!
2. Has it made you more interested in working on learning braille?  
    Yes, I like that we are using braille to compete; it is more than just reading and writing. I like the challenge of it. I am learning to read braille music too.
3. What did you find difficult about the challenge?  
    The spelling section moved too fast, it was really stressful. I had to focus.
4. What was your favorite activity and why?
    Swimming in the pool!
5. Did you make any friends at the Challenge?
    Yes, I made three new friends, one plays the violin too
6. Would you like to compete again?

Maggie with her Mom on left and TVI Daphne Hitchcock on right

Daphne Hitchcock who is Maggie’s Vision Teacher mentioned that a really GREAT spin off is that they are now participating in the iBraille Challenge project. Daphne said “It is so cool - through pairing an iPad and refreshable braille display, the student can self challenge in many different braille levels. The exciting thing for me is the recording of the braille miscues and charting of reading levels, areas of strength and need. I am so pleased to be a part of this - it will really help me step up my competency on the Braille Sense.

BLC Committees

BLC has a number of different committees, each responsible for a different area of the organization, in each newsletter we will feature a couple of committee descriptions to give readers an idea of what they all do, in this edition we will look at the Web committee and the Transactional Guidelines committee.  If you would like to view the full list visit the BLC website

The web committee is responsible for:

  • Maintaining web site and social media and updating content with current events, resources and other items of interest
  • Working with other committees to update content as appropriate

The transactional guidelines committee is responsible for:

  • Completing the development of the Guidelines for the Production of Transactional Documents so that they can be submitted to the braille formats committee for review. Members of this committee must be familiar with transactional documents and the challenges of automated transcription.

Get involved - you may feel that your particular skills and knowledge would make you a good fit for one of these committees, if so please contact Jen Goulden (President) at  info@blc-lbc.ca

Featured Resources

Ashcroft’s Programmed Instruction.

Cay Holbrook and Frances Mary D’Andrea have revised and updated the ‘Ashcroft’s Programmed Instruction’ into Unified English Braille (UEB), now available, published by Scalars Publishing.

Braille Spelling Dictionary for Beginning Writers.

An updated version of ‘A Braille Spelling Dictionary for Beginning Writers’ by Gregory Hurray is now available from the National Braille Press.

Braille smart watch 

A low-cost education and communication tool for the blind: https://www.techinasia.com/dot-braille-smartwatch


Almost like a table of living clay, the inFORM is a surface that three-dimensionally changes shape, allowing users to not only interact with digital content in meet space, but even hold hands with a person hundreds of miles away. And that's only the beginning:


Introducing Braille by Laurie Hudson

A new iBook available through iTunes, includes videos and strategies for teaching braille: http://www.pathstoliteracy.org/technology/introducing-braille-ibook-blogger-laurie-hudson

Braille Music Editor

Braille Music Editor is software designed for blind musicians to write, check and emboss braille music scores and back-translate to print music: http://www.veia.it/en/bme2_product


The Canute is a four-line braille display with 28 cells per line. It is housed in a solid wooden box. 20x30 cm and weighs a bit more than a Perkins Brailler. The braille is produced by metal pins which emerge through the flat metal cover of the Canute. The braille is very crisp and comfortable to read. Four braille-labelled control buttons on either side of each braille line allow for easy navigation, enabling you to access the devices menu, to browse the library of pre-loaded books, and to navigate the pages of the currently focused book.

Documents are imported to the unit using a USB memory stick and currently PEF (Portable Embosser Format) is supported.http://bristolbraille.co.uk/

BLC Treasurer

We are very pleased to announce that Anthony Tibbs has been appointed to the role of BLC treasurer. Anthony is a lawyer mostly working on civil litigation, business and commercial law, including not-for profit and charity law.  He has experience in accounting and was National Treasurer of the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians between 2006 and 2010.  Many thanks to Anthony for stepping up for this important function for BLC

UEB Implementation in Canadian Schools

The Canadian Association of Educational Resource Centres (CAER) is an organization made up of representatives of Provincial resource centres providing alternate format materials for schools and colleges in Canada.  CAER partners have been working together to make sure there is a smooth transition from EBAE and Nemeth to UEB within the education sector.  While each Province has its own implementation plan based on local needs and resources, all the centres agreed to adhere to a broad timeline with most of the transition completed by 2018.  All the CAER members work together to ensure there is no duplication of effort and share resources freely with each other.  Having a unified approach also means that students who may move from one area to another will find materials in the same format they are used to.  As part of the implementation CAER members have worked on developing and delivering UEB training to Teachers of the Visually Impaired and Transcribers.  CAER members have also worked together on UEB technical standards to ensure that there is consistency in style and formatting in technical materials.

Upcoming Events

CNIB Braille Conference 2015

Date: October 29 - 30, 2015

Location: Courtyard by Marriott Downtown Toronto

Participants will have the opportunity to participate in a number of sessions hosted by experts in the fields of braille, advocacy, literacy, education and technology. Sessions and panels in this year’s program include: Introduction to the newest ZoomText, wearable technology, sighted parents raising blind kids and the Touch, Feel and “See” Art Show.

The 12th Biennial Getting in Touch with Literacy Conference

Date: November 18-21, 2015 - Albuquerque, New Mexico

Save the date for the next GITWL (Getting in Touch with Literacy) conference! Check back soon for more information and registration details!

Links and Multimedia

Learn or update to UEB:

Full UEB Certification course

Upgrade EBAE Certification to UEB

For lots of interesting information on UEB check out the International Council on English Braille

BLC on Social Media

Braille Literacy Canada is now on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin! Find us there to receive news about BLC and braille, to stay informed, and to join a network of others devoted to braille just like you.