“Braille is a system of raised dots that people who are blind read by touch. People who are sighted — including braille transcribers, vision teachers, and parents of children who are blind — generally read braille by sight. Braille is not a language, but a code by which languages may be written and read.” Source
Despite all of the advances in technology and audible options for many printed materials that we have today, the need for braille transcription is still in demand. Having printed material transcribed into braille is especially useful for students, as textbooks are not readily available in audio formats. Braille literacy improves a student’s academic performance, which correlates to graduates being more employable. Braille literacy contributes to higher incomes and greater independence for people who are blind or who have low vision.
Types of Braille Transcription Services
Braille can be transcribed into two different formats: uncontracted and contracted braille. Uncontracted braille is when the transcription of printed materials is done letter by letter into braille. Contracted braille is a format of transcription that is intended to take up less space and allow for faster reading of the material. It consists of 289 contractions of braille cells. An example of one of the contractions is the letter “y” which stands for the word “you.” In this way, the transcribed material is done faster, and the student can typically consume it faster as well.
Uncontracted is a system in which braille is transcribed letter for letter, corresponding to the print alphabet. Contracted braille is more complex. It includes 289 contractions of braille cells and is intended to take up less space than uncontracted braille and facilitate faster reading.
Challenges of Transcription Braille
Having access to educational materials is often difficult due to the slow, manual process of transcribing printed textbooks into braille. Some of the challenges in transcription braille include:
- Transcriber shortage: “There is a significant shortage of braille transcribers…(students) go weeks or months without the textbooks their sighted peers have,” says the American Foundation for the Blind. A more critical shortage is projected in the coming years.
- Long wait times: According to a recent T-Base-conducted survey: 91% of respondents from educational institutions said they would like to see their textbooks transcribed faster.
- High demand, low supply: Supply is inadequate but demand is high: K-12, universities, colleges, and publishers need fast turnaround, high quality, and the ability to handle high-volume, complex orders. They also need a variety of alternate format types in order to provide students the options they deserve.
- Poor learning environment: Students who don’t get their materials on time—which is the case especially for complex subject matter such as math or chemistry—may fall behind in their studies or even drop a course.
Braille Transcription Services Provides Better Accessibility
Equal access to education for students who are blind or who have low vision is a privilege that should be available to all regardless of a disability. Access to textbooks and learning materials is necessary for academic success. Not providing learning materials in accessible formats impedes equal access to education to students who are blind or have low vision.
Manually transcribing printed textbooks into braille typically takes 4–9 months. T-Base offers a faster, streamlined option to manual braille transcription. FASTtrack® is a T-Base innovation that turns the arduous, manual process of document transcription into one that’s streamlined, fast, and accurate. T-Base uses automation tools and software to produce alternate formats of printed text such as braille in half the time, every time. Certified subject matter experts perform QA for the highest quality output. FASTtrack speeds up not only braille transcription, but the transcription of all alternate formats for users who are blind or who have low vision.
With T-Base’s FASTtrack high-quality accessible instructional materials are in students’ hands in half the time.