Press Release

November 2019
For Immediate Release

Contact: Jennifer Dunnam, Chair
Braille Authority of North America
410.659.9314 Ex. 2427

BANA Awards Darleen Bogart Braille Excellence Award to
Dr. Robert Englebretson

On Wednesday, November 13, the Braille Authority of North America (BANA), awarded the Darleen Bogart Braille Excellence Award to Dr. Robert Englebretson. BANA was proud to present this award at the 2019 biennial Getting In Touch with Literacy Conference held in Seattle, Washington.

Dr. Englebretson is Chair of the Linguistics Department at Rice University in Houston, Texas. As one of his many academic endeavors, Dr. Englebretson has developed and teaches a course that examines research on braille reading and writing from the perspective of the cognitive sciences. He has authored two books, numerous articles, and has co-edited a large research database of conversational English. He is currently collaborating on a major research project designed to explore the knowledge, skills, and strategies teachers of students with visual impairments need in order to effectively teach braille reading and writing. The project is funded by the Institute for Education Sciences (Department of Education).

Since the late 1980s, Dr. Englebretson has taken an active interest in braille notations of the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), which is central to the field of linguistics. From 2005 to 2010, he served as the International Council on English Braille's U.S. Representative to UEB Committee for Foreign Languages and Linguistics, under the auspices of which he developed IPA Braille. IPA Braille presents an up-to-date braille notation for the symbols of the International Phonetic Alphabet, primarily aimed at braille-reading students and professionals in the language sciences, as well as braille transcribers wishing to produce braille versions of linguistics texts. He is frequently consulted by blind students in introductory linguistics or phonetics courses as well as the faculty teaching these courses, asking questions related to braille and the IPA and ways of making class material more accessible.

Dr. Englebretson holds a Ph.D. in Linguistics from the University of California at Santa Barbara. Prior to his graduate work, he lived and studied in Germany. During graduate school, he also lived in Central Java where he conducted field research on urban varieties of spoken Colloquial Indonesian. As a result, he is fluent in German contracted braille and is familiar with Indonesian braille as well as the code used for Mandarin Chinese braille.

BANA created its Braille Excellence Award in honor of Louis Braille's 200th birthday and renamed it the Darleen Bogart Braille Excellence Award in 2019 in honor of the retirement of BANA's longest-standing member. Mrs. Bogart, a former BANA Chair, served BANA for decades and is widely recognized as an international leader in the development and advancement of braille. She was the 2015 recipient of BANA's excellence award.

This is only the sixth time BANA has granted this prestigious award that recognizes people or organizations that have developed or contributed to a code, have developed code materials or software that supports codes, and/or who represent the highest standards of braille production.

The mission of the Braille Authority of North America is to assure literacy for tactile readers through the standardization of braille and/or tactile graphics.

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