This post will probably only be of interest to my blind readers but am putting it here anyway…

For sightlings who don’t know what I am talking about here are a few definitions and a little background.

In 1900 there were a lot of different systems of writing for the blind in English. Apparently Helen Keller knew them all — New York Point, American Braille, English Braille and, as she also spoke German and French, she would have known these codes too. In total there were approximately 12 codes in use in 1900.

Braille was not accepted in France as a writing system until after the death of its creator, Louis Braille. In what would become known as “the war of the dots” in America and the rest of the English-speaking world, Braille won out as it was easiest to learn. There were other arguments for it as well but this is beyond the scope of this posting.

Campaigns for a Unified English Braille Code (UEBC) began in the 1980’s. When I began school in the 1990’s there was no UEB. I was taught American Braille as this is what we used here in New Zealand until c.2006 when this country adopted the new Unified English Braille.

I had resisted fora long time turning on UEB in my notetaking devices despite the fact I have read it in all the new publications put out by the Blindness Agency in this country. It is rather easy to read. Many short-forms that I love very much have been removed. But nonetheless I can cope.

Last night I was reading a publication freely available from the National Braille Press in the USA where Braille advocates wrote on what they thought of the Unified English Braille Code. Nemeth, the inventor of the mathematical code used in New Zealand until 2006, wrote a small column saying that he was against UEB because it essentially looked wrong for maths and did not take advantage of all the space available in a Braille cell.

I bit the bullet tonight and turned on UEB on my Braille Edge 40 refreshable Braille device. I did this for a few reasons: — It looks rather cool! — Writing technical material such as markdown is made easier in UEB — felt it was time to stop resisting.

The last point is important. There are many in the blind community so very resistant to change. In the finish, I will be one of the people who has to contend with the transition to UEB and use it the longest time out of all my acquaintances. I look forward to getting to know the new code.

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