Considerations and Impact of Adopting
Unified English Braille (UEB) in the United States

This document contains information about the anticipated impact if Unified English Braille (UEB) were to be adopted as an accepted code for use in the United States. It includes sections on the potential impact of UEB on individuals, organizations, production, and equipment and software. Each section begins with a short introduction describing the anticipated challenges and then boxed text that includes a bulleted list of required support to address the need.

Impact on Individuals

The impact of adopting UEB as an accepted code for use in the United States would be felt by several groups of individuals including consumers (i.e., adults and children who are blind), teachers (i.e., rehabilitation teachers and teachers of students who are visually impaired), braille transcribers, and parents and family members of individuals who read braille. These individuals would need to learn UEB or update their current knowledge of braille to include the rules governing UEB.

Required Support to Address the Need for Training:

During the transition, individuals who have learned English Braille American Edition (EBAE) would receive at least some of their textbooks or books, periodicals and other reading material for leisure reading in UEB. The psychological and emotional impact on consumers in the United States cannot be determined in advance of the adoption of UEB. However, in a study conducted by researchers in the United Kingdom (UK) prior to the adoption of UEB in that country, nearly 40% of individuals who were presented with a sample text of UEB could read it without any difficulty, nearly 50% said they read it more slowly but were able to read it, about 13% said they found it difficult to read, and no individual was unable to read it (White, 2011a). Similarly, in Australia and New Zealand where UEB was adopted nearly 6 years ago, 8 of 10 respondents stated that they were glad that their countries switched to UEB (White, 2011b). Braille readers responded favorably to the change, with some individuals experiencing mild irritation and only one person stating that the change was difficult and unnecessary. Based on these past experiences, BANA anticipates the impact on individuals would be minimal or mildly irritating at most.

Required Support to Address the Need for Ongoing Adjustment by Current Braille Readers:

Impact on Organizations

The impact of UEB adoption would be felt by organizations including rehabilitation and educational institutions, agencies that support individuals who are visually impaired, and libraries. Universities with personnel preparation programs would need to provide pre-service and in-service training courses for current and past students. Additionally, practicing teachers including vision rehabilitation therapists (formerly known as rehabilitation teachers) and teachers of students who are visually impaired would need to learn UEB. Agencies providing services to individuals who are visually impaired would need to adopt new training materials for their instructors as well as training materials for the students. Local education agencies and specialized schools for the blind and visually impaired might require specialized materials for younger children transcribed in UEB (e.g. Building on Patterns). Libraries and other organizations providing text for individuals who read braille also would need to attend to the ways that UEB might have an impact on their service. It is anticipated that books that have already been produced in EBAE would continue to be available in libraries and other text collections alongside new books being produced in UEB.

Required Support to Address Challenges Facing Agencies:

Impact on Production

The adoption of UEB also would have an impact on producers of braille and braille production centers. Braille producers would need to adopt and begin transcription in UEB. Braille transcribers at these centers would need training on UEB and new braille transcribers might need to be recruited to support the production of UEB materials. Reduced need for multiple translations of materials would be a positive impact because other English-speaking countries such as Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada, and the United Kingdom have previously adopted UEB. This would allow the sharing of books and materials among English-speaking countries.

While the use of UEB might lead to higher efficiency in braille production given the ability to share transcriptions, it is anticipated that transcribers who are trained and proficient in the use of UEB would be in high demand. Braille producers might find it a challenge to retrain qualified transcribers and might have difficulty keeping up with the demand for materials produced in UEB.

Another impact on production is that UEB might take more space than current codes. The amount of additional space needed for literary materials would be minimal, but the impact on technical materials might be significant depending upon the type of material being transcribed.

Required Support to Address Challenges on Production

Impact on Equipment & Software

UEB is built into almost all braille translation software programs, screen readers, and note-takers; therefore, there would be minimal impact on a braille reader's ability to use electronic equipment. Some individuals or organizations might need to purchase software upgrades to enable production of and/or access to UEB. Software developers who have not yet included UEB within their programs would most likely wish to do so.

Required Support to Address Challenges in Equipment and Software

References

White, M. (2011a). Evaluation of the views of a sample of RNIB magazine subscribers on an Anthology of Essays produced in UEB. RNIB Braille Development Unit, Peterborough. Retrieved electronically at http://www.rnib.org.uk/aboutus/Research/reports/support/Pages/UEB_evaluation.aspx

White, M. (2011b). The experiences of Australia and New Zealand in implementing UEB (Unified English Braille Code.) RNIB Braille Development Unit, Peterborough.

Additional Resources

Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB). Unified English Braille. http://www.rnib.org.uk/livingwithsightloss/readingwriting/braille/braille/codes/pages/ueb.aspx

UK Association for Accessible Formats (UKAAF). Unified English Braille. http://www.ukaaf.org/formats-and-guidance/braille/ueb

International Council on English Braille (ICEB) http://www.iceb.org/

Australian Braille Authority, Round Table Unified English Braille Code. http://www.e-bility.com/roundtable/aba/ueb.php