Braille Book Review

January-February 1998
In Brief

Group calls for revision of Nemeth materials

A needs assessment group has called for the revision of the current course and examination used to certify transcribers in the Nemeth (mathematics) braille code.

The group, which met in September 1997, convened to review the course and the test for the purpose of increasing the number of competent certified Nemeth transcribers. Though the Library of Congress has been certifying transcribers in the math braille code since 1981, there are fewer than two hundred certified Nemeth transcribers in the country. Participants agreed that revising the course will make a difference.

Participating in the meeting were Von Eulert, Braille Authority of North America (BANA) Nemeth Technical Committee Chair; Joanne Baldwin, National Braille Association (NBA); Elinor Savage, California Transcribers and Educators of the Visually Handicapped (CTEVH); Marcia Leibowitz, NLS Nemeth braille advisor; and Mary Lou Stark, acting head, NLS Braille Development Section.

Changes to be effective immediately are that: students will no longer have to use unpunched paper for the lessons and certification test, nor will they have to make maximum use of each braille line.

The group also recommended dropping the require-ment for students who take the course locally to submit the last four lessons to NLS prior to taking the certification test. Instead, transcribers who request to take the certification test must include a letter from their instructor verifying the student's successful completion of the course.

The revision process will begin with developing new certification tests. Once completed, four comparable tests will be composed to ensure overall effectiveness.

Supplemental materials will then be developed to be used with the current instruction manual to (1) clarify confusing information; (2) provide basic instruction in textbook format to prepare materials in Nemeth code; (3) introduce material covered in code changes; (4) provide unit reviews for every three or four lessons; and (5) provide a self-test consisting of approximately fifteen pages of Nemeth braille. Materials will also include simbraille answers for the unit reviews and a self-test in the back of the supplement. Local instructors may receive copies of the supplemental materials as they are developed by contacting NLS. They may also be obtained from Marcia Leibowitz, 10960 Beach Boulevard, #269, Jacksonville, FL 32246; telephone (904) 645-0440.

For a long-term solution, the group recommends that NLS write a new instruction manual incorporating many of the elements of the supplementary materials.

An advisory committee will continue to function throughout the process of developing the supplemental materials and revising the instruction manual.

National Literary Braille Competency Test moves forward

An NLS-commissioned group has completed studying the requirements for effectively teaching braille to children and adults. The analysis revealed that teachers need knowledge of (1) the basic rules of braille, (2) contractions, (3) commonly used composition signs and punctuation, (4) infrequently used composition signs and punctuation, and (5) formatting. It also showed that teachers must be skilled in reading and writing braille and using braille equipment.

The study included approximately seventy-five teachers--both blind and sighted--who work in itinerant, residential, and rehabilitation settings and represented a broad range of educational, geographical, and socioeconomic environments.

The Human Resources Research Organization (HumRRO) was contracted to do the validation study of the national braille competency test for teachers in October 1996. NLS began administering the test, which was prepared at the request of several organizations of and for the blind, in 1994.

Remaining steps in the first phase of the study include linking the identified knowledge and skills to tasks involved in teaching braille, validating the test content, recommending changes to the content and administration of the test, evaluating the revised test, and determining passing scores. Completion of the study is slated for 1999.

Two hundred persons who have not previously taken the test are needed for the next phase in the process-- evaluating the reliability of test results based on the administration of four comparable examinations. Individuals interested in participating should contact Dr. Deirdre Knapp, Project Manager, Human Resources Research Organization, 66 Canal Center Plaza, Suite 400, Alexandria, VA 22314; (703) 549-3611.

For more information about the competency test or other programs offered by the Braille Development Section, write to the Braille Development Section, National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Library of Congress, Washington, DC 20542; call toll-free 800-424-8567; or e-mail

The following information is reprinted from Talking Book Topics January-February 1998.

New Catalogs of Recorded Books Published

Two new large-print catalogs listing books recorded by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) will soon be available to readers. Cassette Books 1997 describes cassette books for adults produced by NLS during the past year. For Younger Readers 1996-1997 lists recorded and braille children's books added to the NLS collection during the past two years. Both catalogs list books by subject categories and include forms for ordering selections from cooperating libraries. Later this year, Cassette Books will also be produced on flexible disc, and For Younger Readers will be produced on cassette.

The catalogs are being sent directly to patrons who ordered them on their annual publication order forms. They can also be ordered from your cooperating library. Cassette versions of these catalogs will be available on loan at a later date.

Magazine Changes Begin

NLS reminds patrons that many new magazine titles have been recently added to the program. The complete list appears in the Magazines section of this issue and includes information about the number of issues per year and format of each title.

Magazine of the Month for Young Adults Announced

A new program offers young adult readers a sampling of magazines not otherwise available through the NLS program. Subscribers to Magazine of the Month for Young Adults receive a different flexible-disc magazine each month. This program is a result of recommendations from a committee that studied ways to improve the NLS magazine program. For a free subscription to Magazine of the Month for Young Adults, contact your local cooperating library.

Although the selections are subject to change, readers may receive some of the following magazines this year.

Magazine of the Month for Adults Continues

Adult readers may sample magazines through the Magazine of the Month program. NLS offers readers a different flexible-disc magazine each month. For a free subscription to Magazine of the Month, contact your local cooperating library. Although the selections are subject to change, readers may receive some of the following magazines this year.

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