Historically, there have been differences between the braille codes around the English-speaking world.
Perhaps the most typical examples were the differences between Standard English Braille (SEB) used in the UK and English Braille American Edition (EBAE) used in the USA.
Though these two codes were largely the same, there were differences such as the use or non-use of capitals, differences in the way certain words were contracted and a completely different code for maths and science.
In 1991, the Braille Authority of North America (BANA) began a research project to determine if it was feasible to create a single unified code for their literary and technical codes. International interest soon grew and in 1993, the project was taken on by the International Council on English Braille (ICEB) in their first meeting in Sydney, Australia. Years of development then followed with collaboration between the major English-speaking countries. The goal of UEB was not only to produce a code which unifies literary and technical subjects, but also to unify the braille code across the English-speaking world. At the same time, new braille symbols were created to keep braille up-to-date with print usage.
In 2004, ICEB agreed that UEB was sufficiently complete for member countries to choose to adopt - Australia was one of the first adopters, in 2005.
The UK Association for Accessible Formats (UKAAF), which sets national standards for braille in the UK, decided in 2011 that UEB should be the UK’s official braille code. We joined all the other major countries in the English-speaking world which have come together for the first time to use a single common standard.
In 2015 RNIB (along with other major braille producers in the UK) transferred all braille production across to UEB. All books and magazines are now produced in UEB. RNIB's old Standard English Braille stock of over 20,000 titles will continue to be available for loan.
To find out more about UEB, visit UKAAF, where you can find information on the main changes between SEB and UEB, a one-page summary, a series of short audio podcasts, frequently asked questions and a link to the official rulebook, the Rules of Unified English Braille. Many of these resources are also available from RNIB, please email [email protected] or phone our Helpline team on 0303 123 9999.