[Athen] Braille Translation Software

Teresa Haven Teresa.Haven at nau.edu
Wed Dec 10 11:16:23 PST 2014

Hi, Cynthia. I'm sure others will chime in on this question, but here are some initial comments:

Forgive me if I am incorrect, but the tone of your message seems to indicate you haven't done any braille production in the past and aren't very familiar with the hardware, software, and skills necessary. If I'm wrong, please feel free to share more information. I personally think Duxbury is one of your best bets for overall quality and stability in braille production. It doesn't tie you to a specific embosser and it offers a lot of flexibility. That being said, it does require some skill to use, particularly if you are going to be producing academic textbooks that contain anything other than plain, single-column, non-technical text. (And what textbook these days fits that description?) Some issues to consider:

* What kind of braille will you be producing? Simple literary braille, or will you need to know something about layout, STEM content, foreign language content, etc.? Will any of the books you're being asked to produce contain multi-column layouts, photos/graphics, captions, sidebars, charts, graphs, tables, web addresses, email addresses, or anything else that is not plain old vanilla text?

* Although an Emprint can be a great embosser for small projects, particularly those that are graphic-intensive, in my opinion it isn't the best choice for producing entire textbooks on the college level because it will be too slow and you'll be putting a heavy strain on it, as well as the fact that it won't emboss interpoint. For book production you need an embosser that has a higher CPS rate, allows for long runs without overheating, allows interpoint embossing, and allows for use of tractor braille paper or a large paper tray.

* Who will be doing your braille production? Even with braille software, understanding of braille production values is critical, or your student will end up with poor quality materials (if they are usable at all). It is essential to understand that braille production is not simply a matter of dumping a Word file out to an embosser and then giving the resulting dots on paper to the student; even for embossers that support "direct" output from Word to braille, you need to understand their limitations as well as how to optimize those Word files for best results. A related question is, how will you assure quality of your end product?
Before you decide to jump into braille production, make sure you know what you are getting into. Consider all the parts of the equation to ensure good quality results, and consider whether creating an in-house production facility is best for your institution, or whether outsourcing to a professional organization would be best.

I hope this helps,

Teresa Haven, Ph.D.
Accessibility Analyst, Northern Arizona University
Co-Chair, AHEAD Standing Committee on Technology

From: athen-list [mailto:athen-list-bounces at mailman13.u.washington.edu] On Behalf Of Yurkovich, Cynthia Ann
Sent: Wednesday, December 10, 2014 11:52 AM
To: athen-list at u.washington.edu
Subject: [Athen] Braille Translation Software


I am in the process of researching Braille Translation Software for purchase. Could you share your recommendations? I have heard that Duxbury is effective but want to review all recommended software. We have an Emprint SpotDot Color Braille Printer on campus and the student is requesting printed Braille textbooks.

Cynthia Yurkovich
Alternate Format Coordinator
Office of Disability Support Services
University of Delaware
240 Academy Street
Alison Hall, Suite 130
Newark, DE 19716
Cyurko at udel.edu<mailto:Cyurko at udel.edu>

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