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Ubc-What's That?

Editor's Note: Editor's Note: Darleen Bogart is a volunteer in the Braille transcription department at the CNIB in Toronto. She is also the UBC Project Director with the International Council On English Braille.

UBC - What does it mean?

UBC (the Unified Braille Code Research Project) is an attempt to extend the present literary (contracted, grade 2) Braille code, with as few changes as possible, so that mathematics, computer notation, science, and other technical material can be written using one Braille code. This would replace the present system with its separate Braille codes for each technical subject. Music is not included because it is standardised around the world.

What advantages are there for me?

If you are learning Braille for the first time, UBC will make it easier for you to learn Braille because there will be greater similarity to the print your classmates are learning or that you knew as a sighted reader. You will not have to master a new code to learn mathematics or to write an E-mail address. Numbers are always written the same way, and so is punctuation. One print symbol will have a corresponding Braille sign regardless of its use. Rules will be much simpler than at present.

If you are employed where you need to work in print, you will be able to prepare your material in Braille and be confident that it will be translated into print accurately. If you are an avid Braille reader, you will be able to read the books currently in the Braille libraries as well as the new materials produced in UBC. There will be many more titles available to you as all English speaking countries will use the same code where at least seven different Braille codes exist at present.

What are the disadvantages for me?

For those of you who currently read specialised technical materials in Braille, there will be some learning until you are comfortable reading the new symbols. There will be some overlap as the new unified English Braille code is introduced.

Why should I support this change?

Braille literacy will be possible for a greater number of people. Accurate Braille materials will be easier to produce using Braille translation software programmes, and as a result, should be cheaper to produce. Those living in developing countries will be able to read materials in the UBC whereas now many of them get materials from the USA and the UK which have different technical codes - a great disadvantage to these students who may not have much Braille to read.

When will UBC happen?

The finishing touches are scheduled to be completed two years from now. The Executive of the International Council on English Braille (ICEB) will pronounce on the code at that time. The ICEB General Assembly, being held in Canada in 2003, will formally vote on the approval of UBC. Then each member country's Braille authority will vote on it.

For more information, please contact the Canadian Braille Authority, http://www.langara.bc.ca/cba

Where can I find out more about UBC?

http://www.iceb.org will tell you everything you want to know about UBC and more.