A BANA Update Prepared for APH Annual Meeting, Oct. 2012 1. To gain increased familiarity with the Braille Authority of North America (BANA) and its purpose and current activities. 2. To increase familiarity with a) the complexities of braille translation being brought about by the changing nature of print, and b) the implications of the decreasing boundaries between braille and print brought about by the application of technology. 3. To gain increased awareness of the need for change in braille codes and learn about the challenges of managing such change. The BANA Board consists of representatives from organizations of blind people, educators, and transcribers International: 15 member organizations, plus 3 associate members 7 technical committees; 7 ad hoc committees; general committees such as publications, and board committees such as bylaws All committees include at least one braille reader, one transcriber, one educator, one Canadian Board meets in person twice a year and by teleconference as well Work done by Board and committees all year long BANA is indebted to its hard-working volunteers Numerous projects ongoing: ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ Tactile Graphics guidelines Formats Guidelines Foreign Language Guidelines Knit & crochet guidelines Standardized test guidelines and many others! Drastic changes in the appearance and production methods of print: new characters, icons, layouts, and fonts Print is increasingly read from screens; schools are increasingly providing textbooks digitally rather than on paper. The boundaries between "technical" materials and everyday materials increasingly blurred (e.g. web sites and email addresses in general literature). Digital text provides the capability for braille users to read the material in braille instantly, via refreshable braille. Braille is more widely available than ever before in history because of braille embossers, translation software, and refreshable braille. Because of ambiguities in current codes, accurate translation of text into braille remains far from perfect. While technology enables braille users to type their material in braille and have it converted to print instantly, (backtranslation), the current code introduces many errors. Even the most basic mathematics material is not displayed correctly in braille generated by computers and mobile devices, and therefore the material is not reliable in this medium. Evolution of print and braille ◦ Three part article on BANA’s website ◦ http://www.brailleauthority.org Concern about braille complexity since CBC introduced in late 1980s. ◦ multiple braille symbols for same print symbol ◦ increased contextuality of braille Increasing difficulty in constructing new code symbols to reflect current print usage. In 1991, Drs. Abraham Nemeth and Tim Cranmer presented a paper to BANA about the urgent need to unify the various braille codes used in North America. Started as BANA research project, became international in early 1990s. Developed primarily by braille readers in seven countries. ICEB endorsed in 2004 as an official code All other ICEB members have now adopted it: ◦ Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Nigeria, Canada, United Kingdom BANA’s position: monitoring adoption and implementation around the world. A revision and extension of current literary code including new symbols for things not currently in EBAE. In that way, it unifies existing codes (except music). Eliminates 9 contractions from the current literary code to reduce ambiguity; adds mathematics symbols. Numbers in the upper part of cell as they are currently in literary materials. Designed to be extensible (easy to add new symbols as needed) and unambiguous. Because of this, UEB is more computable and better for backtranslation. Designed to be flexible, consistent, and logical. UEB Rulebook and some training materials available on line. Translation software for UEB already exists and is accessible. UEB compatible with existing braille devices (such as the BrailleNote) and is supported by Apple products. Research conducted in US and Canada published in JVIB. Research articles and links listed on BANA website from various countries: readability studies conducted indicate no significant differences in the readability of the code, reading speed, or number of miscues while reading study in UK indicates that the majority of readers were able to read the material produced in UEB without difficulty transition period to UEB was brief in countries that adopted it The decision to use "upper numbers" in UEB led Dr. Abraham Nemeth to develop his own unified code, called the Nemeth Uniform Braille System (NUBS). The code essentially completed, BANA was asked to evaluate it. Results are on the BANA website. Not currently being considered by BANA. Recent updates: ICEB Meeting in South Africa Ireland now joining ICEB; India interested • Canada and UK: Beginning implementation of UEB NBA passed resolution against UEB adoption AER board voted in favor of UEB adoption Consumer Conventions: both ACB and NFB passed resolutions supporting UEB as long as Nemeth is maintained Vote on code change at fall BANA meeting, November 2-4, 2012, in Los Angeles Current wording of motion would be to adopt UEB to replace English Braille American Edition and adding it to Nemeth, Music, and IPA as official codes Development of an implementation plan that would include constituents and stakeholders of consumers, educators, and transcribers Formats and Tactile Graphics Guidelines would remain in place Choices we face: ◦ 1. We can continue to tinker with the current codes we have, potentially making them less easy to use and more ambiguous; ◦ 2. We can adopt UEB, as have all of the other ICEB countries; ◦ 3. We can adopt UEB and continue to use Nemeth as well; ◦ 4. We can do nothing at all to change braille, realizing this might cause braille to become obsolete. Current motion is to adopt UEB, maintain Nemeth, and develop implementation plan with all stakeholders. Braille Authority of North America www.brailleauthority.org Frances Mary D’Andrea, Chair [email protected] BANA welcomes your comments and feedback!