January 20, 2013 1:10 pm

Braille transcriber

Sheila Armstrong

Sheila Armstrong, Torch

We don’t transcribe letter for letter. In some ways it’s like shorthand or what people have started to do in text messages – we use short forms. For example, “TGR”, stands for “together”. Then there are dot combinations used for common letter strings such as T-I-O-N or E-A. It’s done to reduce the size of books produced . For example, even using short forms, a Braille Bible would take up 4½ft of shelving.

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The Job

We have the normal 26 letters plus 289 short forms or letter combinations. It probably takes six to nine months to become proficient.

There are now computer programs that transcribe into Braille, so my job is more checking than a creation process.

I work for an organisation that provides Christian support materials but there are also specialists in transcribing things such as financial, legal and medical documents.

Diagrams can also be converted to be read by touch but in most cases would have to be simplified; most are too complex.

Some e-readers can read to you, but a blind person has to be careful because even some of the newer models don’t have that facility. Lots of people think it’s less trouble for blind people to use audio but I feel strongly that there’s a big difference between listening and reading. Personally, I remember much more of what I read in Braille than what I listen to.

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