To commemorate Louis Braille's birthday on January 4, we look at events related to braille over the past year.
It was an awesome year for braille
Several braille devices were unveiled in March at the annual CSUN Conference in San Diego, Calif. The unit generating the most buzz is the Orbit Reader 20. This portable, refreshable braille display retails in Canada for $499. You can pre-order the Orbit Reader 20 with a $50 deposit from Shop CNIB. You will also be able to find the product description on the pre-order page.
Other refreshable braille units that are now available include the BrailleNote Touch from Humanware and the B2G (Braille to Go) from National Braille Press. The Multiline braille display is currently under development, and often referred to as the "holy grail" in the realm of refreshable braille displays. The Canute from Bristol Braille Technology was also shown at the CSUN Conference in March, with an updated prototype shown during the International Council On English Braille 6th General Assembly in May.
Awards to Braille Readers
Awards of note are the Onkyo Braille Essay Contest, from the European Blind Union, the Braille Challenge, and the CNIB Braille Creative Writing Contest.
Events in the Field of Braille for 2016
The International Council On English Braille 6th General Assembly took place in Baltimore, Md., in May. Eight English speaking countries comprise ICEB including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Nigeria, Republic of Ireland, South Africa, United Kingdom and the United States. You can check out the research and technology papers as well as the proceedings from the event at www.iceb.org
The CNIB National Braille Conference was held in October. You can view conference highlights and download a transcript from the show AMI Inside., produced by Accessible Media Inc. You can also watch the conference's session on creating tactile books.
Canada’s Accession to Marrakesh Treaty brought the Treaty into force in when the country became the 20th country to sign the Marrakesh Treaty. You can read more here.
A Look Ahead
This year holds great promise for braille, braille devices and accessibility. There was a time in the early 80s when pundits predicted braille would die out with the advent of synthetic speech screen-reading technology. In fact, the opposite is true today. Braille is easier to access, more available, more affordable, and more immediate on mobile devices and tablets because of this same technology. Research advancements in braille cell technology opens up its availability to more readers than ever before. It is an exciting time for braille users, and I'm glad to be a part of it.