“For many Canadians who are blind,
braille is an essential medium of literacy.”


November 2015 • Issue #3

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.  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


World Braille Day

Braille Literacy Canada Affirms January 4th, 2016 as World Braille Day, to be Recognized with Celebrations Across Canada.

Follow the link below to learn more and share with others!


The CNIB Braille Conference


By Betty Nobel

This conference was held on October 29th and 30th at the Courtyard Marriott Hotel in Toronto.  Registrants came from all across the country to attend sessions about instruction in the use of the latest technology in the classroom, Duxbury for braille users, android technology, low vision strategies, formatting for infrequent or rare materials to be produced in braille and much more.  There were presenters from as far away as China and Denmark who shared their expertise in some very interesting sessions as well.  Exhibitors presented sessions and displayed their wares, receptions that allowed attendees to network, and there were some wonderful lunches with guest speakers that kept us engaged and interested.

One very new and exciting innovation at the conference this year was the indoor navigation system iBeacon.  Using Blind Square, you could get information about various locations in the hotel, and you could scan QR codes to get more in-depth knowledge of the places of interest to you.  

As part of the conference, Braille Literacy Canada had a Perkins brailler to give away to a deserving person as part of the Brailler Bounce Initiative.  Maggie Wehrle, an eight-year-old winner in the Braille Reading and Writing competition was the lucky recipient, pictured here.  She loves to write stories either on paper or with refreshable braille.


Figure 1 Maggie Wehrle and Betty Nobel

The workshop I most enjoyed was on document accessibility.  It is true that in everyday life and in the workplace people who use braille or screen readers often find that they are presented with MS Word documents with material they cannot access because graphics are not labelled, text is in text boxes or documents are not formatted with heading styles for easy navigation.  
I also heard some inspiring personal stories from speakers like Mark Demontis of Courage Canada and Avesta Alani, a member of the CNIB Youth Council.

At the end of the conference, some very prestigious volunteer awards were handed out, including a special award to Darleen Bogart for her over 40 years of volunteer service in the braille world. Few of us can match her dedication and contribution to “our wonderful dots”.  Thank you, Darleen!

So if you want to attend a conference where you will learn a lot, have fun, and be inspired, make plans to attend the next braille conference.

T-Base Communications

T-Base Communications, a full service accessible communications company, is looking for feedback from the blind, deaf-blind or partially sighted community on your experience receiving accessible information—in brochures, statements and bills—from various service providers. Complete one or more of the following questionnaires before November 15th, 2015, that take only minutes to complete:  • Accessibility: Call Center   • Accessibility: In-Person Experience   • Accessibility: Online or Mobile App  • Delivery of Requested Accessible Documents  • Satisfaction with Accessible Documents  For more information about these surveys, please visit  www.tbase.com/survey

Are you looking to expand your transcription portfolio? Great news: T-Base Communications, a full service accessible communications company, has external contract opportunities for Certified Transcribers. Please contact T-Base to find out more

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 Communications and the Membership committees.  If you would like to view the full list visit the BLC website

The membership and communications committee is responsible for:

  • Collaborating with the BLC treasurer and the Corporate Secretary to manage membership data.
  • Ensuring that email reminders are sent to those members who have not renewed their membership.
  • Proposing options for increasing membership.
  • Proposing options for increasing communication with BLC members and the general public
  • Preparing and distributing the BLC newsletter.

 The braille formats committee is responsible for:

  • Determining other guidelines that should be reviewed by BLC for use in Canada. Members of this committee must have a thorough knowledge of braille and must be familiar with issues specific to formatting.

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

The Braille Superstore: A Treasure Trove of Braille

By Natalie Martiniello

Based in B.C., the Braille Superstore sells blindness and low vision products, ranging from books, to toys, games, accessible kitchen items, houseware and talking products. Browse the catalogue by visiting www.braillebookstore.com.

I’ve turned to the Braille Superstore as both a braille enthusiast and teacher of braille. Though, as mentioned above, the Braille Superstore (despite its name) includes items for both braille and non-braille users alike – I’ll focus on some of my favourite braille related products here.

Books: The Braille Superstore carries books in uncontracted and contracted braille, and all titles are available in UEB upon request. A wide selection of books are available for different age groups, ranging from read-aloud and print-braille books, to those for elementary, middle grade, higher grade and adult readers, including touch and trace books (you’re never too old to enjoy those!)

Writing tools: Found under their “houseware” section, this is where you will stumble upon several slates and styli. This is where I found a full-page slate (25 lines, 28 cells) which I still use as a handy alternative for more extensive jotting down.

Games and toys: Several of the items here are popular around our household, but, games can also serve as fun (and sneaky!) ways to spice up a braille lesson. Several of the games here were a huge success during an adult braille group I organized. Uno, Skip-Bo and Bingo are great games to play at home, but also great ways to reinforce braille symbols. If you enjoy board games, there are a variety to choose from, including Scrabble, Monopoly, Chess, Checkers, and a really neat tactile Snakes and Ladders. If you’re more into brain teasers, then you can find a particular favourite of mine: a braille Sudoku set! (I’m still trying to work through mine). Among the puzzles, there is a nifty braille keychain that can form different braille symbols – practical, but also another creative way to practise braille wherever you are. The raised-line drawing boards (found in the toy section) also caught my attention.

Stop by the “braille workshop” centre if you’re searching for braille learning aids or items to use when introducing braille to sighted groups: Braille alphabet buttons, cheat sheets, flash cards, magnets, stickers, bookmarks, name cards, and more.

The “copy centre” is where you can find information about transcription requests for braille business cards, menus, personal letters, textbooks and other documents.

Glance through the greeting cards and the gift shop: You will find braille mugs, wrist bands, keychains, bookmarks, magnets and my favourite: The braille chocolate molds! We used these to make chocolate bars to include in everyone’s stocking last year, and they were a huge hit! Some of the hand-carved braille Christmas ornaments also found a home on our tree.

Searching for a gift but can’t decide? You can also select an amount and purchase a gift certificate.

I've barely scratched the surface. The BLC board wishes you happy browsing and happy holidays, whatever you may be celebrating this holiday season.

Seedlings Books

Seedlings - New Books Available in UEB!

Seedlings Braille Books for Children is pleased to announce: All of our Uncontracted Print-Braille-&-Picture Books are now in UEB AND we have 5 new books in UEB for children ages 0-5!

Visit: www.seedlings.org

Upcoming Events

Getting in Touch with Literacy

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

The 12th Biennial Getting in Touch with Literacy Conference

The ICEB 6th General Assembly

ICEB General Assembly will be held in Baltimore, Maryland from 22 May to 26 May 2016. Follow this link for the call for papers, the registration form and to learn more!


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.



 Braille Literacy Canada