What is Unified English Braille Code?
Unified English Braille (UEB) is a revision and extension of the current literary braille code, English Braille, American Edition (EBAE).
The United States members of the Braille Authority of North America (BANA) voted to adopt Unified English Braille (UEB) to replace English Braille American Edition on November 2, 2012.
The target implementation date of UEB in the United States is January 4, 2016.
UEB, Nemeth, Music, and the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) will be the official codes for use in the United States.
What are the changes?
UEB includes new symbols, eliminates some current contractions, and is designed to better incorporate future changes to the code with the ability to add new symbols, as needed. These changes will help braille readers, braille transcribers and producers, and teachers of blind students in a number of ways
More consistency, less ambiguity, and fewer exceptions to braille rules would make braille easier to produce and would remove some barriers to learning braille.
The ability to show more symbols in braille would give the braille reader better access to the same information that is available to print readers.
Computer translation and back translation could be produced more quickly and with less human intervention than currently required.
More accurate computer translation from print to braille/braille to print~
Reduce the errors and ambiguity experienced by those reading contracted braille on refreshable braille displays, which are the equivalent of a screen on a computer or mobile device
Improve the back translation of braille that is written using electronic devices, so that braille users can write in braille to communicate easily and accurately with non-braille users
Increase the timeliness of many types of braille production by permitting braille transcribers to focus more on advanced aspects of braille production rather than spending time on routine matters
Reduce the labor required in braille production, allowing teachers to spend more time working with the students instead of brailling materials for their students
Mitigate, to some extent, the difficulties experienced by a reader who is required to read computer-produced braille that has been prepared by someone who has not been trained in braille transcription
Nine Contractions Eliminated~
by into to
ble com dd
ation ally o’clock
The overarching reasons for deletion of these contractions are the need for accurate automatic forward- and back-translation between print and braille, the need to allow for more symbols without creating conflicts in the code, and the principle of reducing exceptions to braille rules. Here are more specifics:
ation and ally were eliminated because they created complications in rules having to do with capital letters in the middle of words.
to, into, and by were eliminated to allow for greater consistency in usage of other symbols. Also, the special spacing rules closed off options for making new symbols.
com was eliminated to make room for greater flexibility in the placement and usage of hyphens and dashes. In current literary braille, a great deal of attention must be paid to the spacing of dashes etc., slowing down the production of accurate braille.
ble was eliminated to allow for unambiguous reading and writing of numbers wherever they occur in literary contexts.
dd was eliminated to allow for a single way to show the period/dot/decimal point even when it occurs in the middle of words or numbers.
o‘clock was eliminated because of a problem with capitalization. The extent of a capitalized word indicator (double dot 6) includes only the actual letters immediately following the indicator. This means that the apostrophe terminates the effect of the double dot 6 (this rule reduces the frequency of the use of the capitals mode terminator). This is the only contraction with this problem and is relatively infrequently used. Rather than keep this unwieldy construction or make a special rule for the capitalization of “o’clock”, the contraction itself was eliminated.
Massachusetts Plan for implementation EUB~
The Massachusetts Braille Literacy Advisory Council (BrLAC), (members below) has been tasked with suggesting a Massachusetts UEB Plan to submit to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
Implementation of UEB will involve the collaboration of state and national partners and may change as state and national information changes or becomes available.
Massachusetts state plan will be posted soon.
BrLAC Statutory Members~
Ms. Kim Charlson (consumer rep/BSCB)
Ms. Katherine Crohan (braille reader)
Ms. Eileen Curran, BrLAC Chair (Teacher of the students with visual impairments)
Ms. Ann Donahoe (parent)
Ms. Karen Nagle (parent)
Ms. Amy Ruell (consumer rep/NFBM)
Ms. Jaclyn Sheridan (braille producer)
Ms. Katrena Traut-Savino (Teacher of the students with visual impairments)
Mr. Joseph Weisse (braille reader)
BrLAC Ex Officio Members~
Mr. Joe Abely, President, The Carroll Center for the Blind
Ms. Carrie Brasier, Director, Accessible Instructional Materials Library
Ms. Wendy Buckley, Instructor, Northeast Regional Center for Vision Education, UMass Boston
Ms. Martha Daigle, Special Education Planning and Policy Office Department of Elementary and Secondary Ed
Ms. Jan Doremus, BRLAC Secretary, Massachusetts Commission for the Blind
Dr. Richard Jackson, Associate Professor, Project Director, UDL Postdoctoral Leadership Preparation The Lynch School of Education, Boston College
Dr. Karen Ross, Director Education Services, The Carroll Center for the Blind
Mr. Paul Saner, Commissioner Massachusetts Commission for the Blind
There are several ways for those who know English Braille American Edition (EBAE) to learn UEB.
The BANA web site has the most comprehensive listing of sources. Below is a brief list:
The Rules of Unified English Braille is available on the web site of the International Council on English Braille. You’ll find this document as a PDF, a searchable PDF, and in braille formatted files.
CNIB Transcriber’s UEB Course: Available in multiple formats this course updates one to the changes in UEB.
Unified English Braille: Australian Training Manual: This PDF file contains 31 lessons that begin with the alphabet and go through the UEB code in detail.
UEB Online: from Australia: Designed for sighted learners this course starts at the beginning and moves one through the full UEB code.
The Instruction Manual for Braille Transcription, UEB: is available from NLS. As of February 12, 2015 the first 9 lessons are available as PDF and .brf files. More lessons will be added in the next few months.
BANA has put together the “UEB Reader” which is available in PDF and .brf format as a zip file. For those who are braille readers and do not have access to an embosser a hard copybook can be requested by contacting Kim Charlson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Wisconsin Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired has put together several webcasts. One set is titled “Introduction to Unified English Braille”, a second is titled “Unified English Braille for Transcribers” and a third is titled “Unified English Braille for Vision Teachers”.
All NLS certified transcribers will need to learn UEB and then take an examination to obtain a Letter of Proficiency in UEB. https://nfb.org/ueb-resources.
APH BOP Kindergarten, BOP 1st grade, and BOP 2nd grade, Units 1, 2, and 3 are complete and available in UEB. The remaining units of BOP 2nd grade, Units 4, 5, 6, and 7 are scheduled for completion during January, 2016 You will NOT need new teacher editions. APH will make a free download available that will tell the teacher what has changed instructionally.