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Unified English Braille (UEB) – A Short Course

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6. Unified English Braille (UEB) – A Short Course
Here’s what UEB is about -

• one braille code for literary and technical material

one numbering system

• unambiguous

• one print symbol is represented by one braille character

• students will see the same symbol regardless of the subject

• print = braille = print which allows a student to work in braille and the teacher to read print

• automatically computable

• system for creation of future symbols

• symbols constructed so that the beginning and end of a symbol is always known

Here’s the history -

• 1991 Braille Authority of North America (BANA) begins the project to unify its codes

• 1993 International Council on English Braille (ICEB) agrees to take on the project for all English codes

• 2004 UEB accepted by ICEB as an official code

• 2010 Australia, New Zealand, Nigeria and South Africa have implemented UEB. Canadian Braille Authority (CBA) approves UEB as preferred code for Canada. The braille authority of the UK will be considering UEB again in four years; the USA has yet to do so.

Here are the results -

Australia was the first country to implement UEB. New Zealand and South Africa followed within two years and Nigeria one year ago. Each country’s plan was unique to their circumstances in many ways but there were many similarities as well. Implementation was staged beginning with the lower grades for all materials, middle grades for new texts, upper grades continued with their current technical codes. If a new technical textbook was introduced, it was provided in UEB and all future texts in that subject for that student were in UEB. General collections in libraries were phased in quickly because UEB is easily readable by any readers of English braille.
Training materials have been shared and the code book is available for downloading in print and braille at www.iceb.org
Countries are able to exchange braille materials. Australia and New Zealand have one braille certification. Nigeria, a developing country, demonstrates the great value of one code when materials are available to them from many sources.
All the countries found that the implementation was much quicker than originally planned; that the students used texts in literary braille in both the old code and UEB without any problems, and that most of the students chose to write their exams in UEB. Each country reported a renewed emphasis and enthusiasm for braille among the teachers and students generated by the move to UEB.
Here’s to the future of braille in Canada!
Darleen Bogart

[Darleen was the Chair of the ICEB UEB Project until its completion in July, 2010]

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