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Transcribing text to braille

Braille transcription software is a great tool to create braille versions of print documents. Both free and commercial packages are available, and they can produce braille in a number of languages and for a variety of purposes.

It is vital to understand how your braille transcription software works, and to make sure the correct braille rules are used.

Braille transcription software

Braille transcription software works by converting text characters, words, punctuation and document layout to their corresponding braille character equivalents. The braille version of the file is then sent either to a refreshable braille display or to a braille embosser to produce a copy on paper, to be read tactually.

Preparing your file for conversion to braille

A major factor in achieving good quality braille is the quality of the original print document. Here are some top tips:

  • Make sure the document has the correct structure (for example, make sure headings are correctly "styled" as headings, not just made to look visually like headings).
  • Make sure correct symbols are used (for example, use a proper degree sign, rather than a superscripted zero; never use the letter l for a figure 1).
  • Make sure any pictures or figures are correctly labelled and described (for example, with alt text).

It really is all in the structure. If you have a well-structured print document that has been styled correctly, the chances are that you will get a well-structured braille document ready for embossing.

Be aware of the braille rules

Due to the complexity of the rules that govern braille codes and the fact that different countries use different braille rules, it is important that you understand the braille rules that exist in your country or have access to a professional braille transcriber to produce and proofread the braille for you.

Braille rules are occasionally updated and sometimes it can be a while before the braille translation software is updated to reflect the changes.

Braille translation software

Several different braille translation software programs are available. Most suppliers offer free demonstration versions so you can assess the suitability of the software before you commit to purchasing it.

Limitations of braille software

There are limitations to what braille transcription software can achieve, with some of the braille rules requiring decisions which can currently only be made by a person knowledgeable in the rules.

Using braille transcription software allows easier braille production but still requires experience in braille to ensure quality output.

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