Contact: Guy Lamolinara (202) 707-9217

August 30, 2000

New Braille Instruction Manual Issued by the Library of Congress

The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) of the Library of Congress announces the fourth edition of the Instruction Manual for Braille Transcribing.

This version of the manual was developed under the leadership of Constance Risjord, a literary braille transcriber, former member of the Braille Authority of North America (BANA) literary technical committee and past chair of the National Braille Association (NBA) literary technical committee; John Wilkinson, NLS literary braille adviser; and Mary Lou Stark, head of the NLS Braille Development Section. More than 40 transcribers, peer reviewers, computer specialists, educators and editors contributed to the project.

The braille instructional manual is designed for use in the correspondence course in English braille transcribing conducted by the National Library Service and by instructors of similar braille classes in locations across the United States. The course is intended to familiarize students with the braille system, with braille contractions and their usage and with the rules of braille transcribing set forth by BANA and published in English Braille American Edition, which became the authorized braille code for the United States in 1959.

The original plan for the manual was to modify slightly the 1984 edition to reflect code changes adopted in 1987 and 1991, but the need for more drastic revision emerged as the project progressed. In the new edition, explanations have been expanded and many simulated braille examples added; drills and exercises have been updated and increased; and lessons have been modified to facilitate the smooth progress of the course.

Braille is a system of raised dots that represent letters of the alphabet, numbers, punctuation and other symbols, some of which may stand for groups of frequently occurring letters. Braille may be embossed on paper or read by means of computer-connected refreshable braille output devices, which present the raised dots on a keyboard-like apparatus. There are several levels of braille: in Grade 1 braille, words are spelled out letter by letter; in Grade 2, a system of contractions streamlines the presentation significantly. Grade 3 is more highly contracted still and, like shorthand, often used for note-taking. Other braille codes are specialized for particular areas of interest, such as music, mathematics and scientific usage. The system was originated by a 19th Frenchman, Louis Braille, and has developed internationally to a high level of sophistication.

Persons interested in enrolling in the braille transcription course or wishing to obtain further information should contact the Braille Development Section, National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Library of Congress, at (800) 424-8567.

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PR 00-125
8/30/00
ISSN 0731-3527

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