Unified English Braille

Alberta’s braille-using students are moving to a new braille code. Unified English Braille (UEB), a move to combine literary, mathematics, science and computer braille codes into one integrated code, has been moving forward in the English-speaking world. Implementation in North America is currently underway with Braille Literacy Canada having approved UEB in 2010, and the Braille Authority of North America making the move this past November.  At this point in time UEB has been adopted by all of the major English-speaking countries in the world, with some of them being fully implemented.  For the past number of months the Canadian Association of Education Resource Centres (CAER), of which Alberta’s Services for Students with Visual Impairments is a member, has been planning a national implementation.  Since CAER works collaboratively on some aspects of production and certainly on sharing through interlibrary loan, it makes sense to move forward in a coordinated manner. 

Over the past few months an Alberta committee has been working on an implementation plan for UEB in Alberta.  To remain reasonably well coordinated with the rest of the country, our implementation schedule that will roll out as follows…

2014-2015- ECS – Grade 6

2015-2016- Grade 7-9

2016-2017- Grade 10-12 (Some consideration may be given to high school students writing "Nemeth-related" diploma exams after 2017)

Training of course will be a key element in the successful implementation of UEB.  To that end, two training sessions which focused on the literary aspect of UEB and the math/science aspect only up to a grade 6 level have taken place this spring.  Over 40 vision teachers and braille transcribers took part in the training. In the future more technical training will take place to account for the secondary students moving into UEB and requiring a higher skill level for their advanced math and science courses. In the near future more training will be announced to support the braille transcription needs of school-based teams.

For our students this transition will make the acquisition of braille reading skills and ultimately the development of strong literacy and numeracy skills a reality.