Your Weekly Update from the Braillists Foundation

A Message From Our Chairman

Hi everyone,

On behalf of the Braillists Foundation Board of Trustees, I hope this finds you safe and well.

As we approach the end of our second year as a registered charity, I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your on-going support, reflect on our progress over the previous twelve months and look ahead to the coming year.

The Braillists Foundation continues to grow and promote braille usage across the UK and around the world. You may remember how wonderful it was to kick-off in January with so many attendees at our first event of the year, a celebration of World Braille Day. Thanks again to our excellent panellists, Saima Akhtar, Fred Reid and Gary O’Donoghue for sharing how braille remains a vital literacy tool for blind people in the 21st century.

Details of our World Braille Day event for 2022 are included later in this Newsletter. In addition, the Braillists Foundation has been invited to take over the Visionary Twitter account on 4 January 2022. If you are on Twitter, we hope you will follow @Braillists and like and share Tweets promoting braille usage and use the #WorldBrailleDay hashtag.

In 2021, the Churchill Foundation recognised the value of braille and awarded the Braillists a second grant. We are using this to remunerate the presenters of our Masterclasses, cover the costs of transcribing episodes of our Braillecast podcast (including Masterclass recordings) into both text and braille, and engage part-time staff to provide much-needed management and administrative support. These staff, in partnership with our amazing volunteers, are working to create resources that we hope can be used to learn and promote braille usage for many years to come.

As well as our email forum and social media channels, our Braille Bar is where our community comes together to learn from one another. You always surprise and delight with your wide and varied discussion at our open question and answer sessions. Your respect for other attendees and willingness to share your knowledge is helping attract a positive, welcoming culture recognised across the world. Special thanks to Ben who often does the lion’s share of the work for these sessions, making sure they are well-moderated.

You can be sure our Masterclasses, where we take a deeper dive into some aspect of everyone’s favourite tactile reading system, will also return in the new year. Where else could you find a description of how to draw a Christmas tree with a Perkins, an introduction to grade 3, a guide to braille in the kitchen, an explanation of the BRF file type, how to get started with a slate and stylus, braille music and much more? If you missed a Masterclass, you can find recordings of all of them via the Braillecast podcast and on our Media page, along with transcripts and supporting documentation. We hope also in 2022 to make much of this content available for people offline via SD Cards that you will be able to access with your braille display or braille note taker. Many thanks to all our presenters for improving our collective skills and knowledge.

The Thursday evening Book Club is where beginners and more experienced braillists practice reading skills in a supportive and safe environment. These sessions continue to be well-attended and provide a friendly place for graduates of our Braille for Beginners course to apply what they’ve learnt. Multiple rooms are available so you can find a space where people are reading at your pace. Berni, Mel and Adeel do an outstanding job steering this group, again ably supported by Ben and Matthew.

Speaking of Beginners, if you or someone you know would like to get started with braille, it’s not too late to register for our free Braille for Beginners course starting in January. Mel will be guiding us through the basics including pre-braille skills, alphabet, numbers, punctuation and making sure that at the end of the 8 weeks we will have enough braille knowledge to play a game, make a label, create a shopping list and genuinely find braille to be useful in everyday life. Mel, I know how much our beginners value your patience and benefit from your experience.

None of the Braillists Foundation’s activities would take place without the tireless dedication of our staff, contractors and volunteers. They turn up week after week and often work long into the night to make sure our hundreds of hours of events are well-organised and promoted, and our many high quality resources are created. I am sure you’ll join me in offering my sincere thanks to everyone involved both in front and behind the scenes. Adeel, Ben, Berni, Ed, Hazel, Ilka, James, Judith, Kawal, Matthew, Megan, Mel and Steph to name a few. Superstars all of you. If I missed anyone, that’s a reflection on me not you!

Finally, it only remains for me to wish you season’s greetings and a prosperous and safe 2022.

Braille Arounnd the World: a Special Event to mark World Braille Day

We know about braille in the UK, of course, and we regularly hear about braille in other developed English-speaking countries – the US, Australia, New Zealand and so on. But there are many other countries in the world about which we hear much less. How is braille taught? How is it produced? How easy is it to obtain? What braille technology is in use?

Join us at 7:30 PM on Tuesday 4 January to explore these issues in detail with three international panellists.

Please register for this event here:

N.B. this is a new link. You will need to register even if you have already registered for our other sessions.

Free Webinars from the UK Association for Accessible Formats

Welcome to the first of UKAAF’s 2022 series of webinars.

UK Association for Accessible Formats: World Braille Day: Roger Firman interviews Stuart Lawler from Sight and Sound Technology.

We are really pleased to introduce our guest, Stuart Lawler, from Sight and Sound Technology, talking about braille in its widest sense on World Braille Day.

Please click here to complete the registration link and reserve your place.

Having completed this, you will then be notified of forthcoming UKAAF webinars.

On February 1st, the webinar will be an interview with Stacy Scott from Taylor and Francis. Stacy will be able to talk to us about the ongoing work to make more electronic books accessible and much , much more.

Blind Adult Braille Display Users Needed for Research Study to Develop Ergonomic Guidelines

Hello braille display user,

This is an invitation to participate in a very important study to create ergonomic guidelines for braille displays. While there has been a tremendous amount of research to ensure the safety and performance of QWERTY keyboards (see ANSI 100-2007) to this day no ergonomic studies have been published.Thus, there are NO industry guidelines ensuring good ergonomics of braille displays or Perkins keyboards.In 2020, Vispero utilized a braille display survey.The results showed that 26% of the respondents indicated that they experience pain from using their display.Therefore, Vispero has a partnership with researchers from the University of Houston Clear-Lake to create an industry standard for braille displays. As a token of appreciation for your participation, you will be entered into a drawing to win a $100 Amazon Gift Card.We will hold drawing at the conclusion of our data collection, mid-February at the latest. Please note that this research is for those that are over the age of 18 and there is no obligation to participate or finish this survey, and participation is completely voluntary. Also, while the study is planned to help develop ergonomic guidelines in general, there is no direct benefit for participation.

Please click this link to begin, also feel free to share the link with anyone that uses a braille display. If you have any questions or technical problems, please email Joel Persinger. You may only take the survey one time per household. Click here to see the official statement regarding the sweepstakes rules or here to see the University of Houston Clear-Lake consent form.

Thank you very much for your participation.

Get Your 2022 Braille Pocket Calendar Today!

For a number of years, George Bell of Techno-Vision Systems has been producing an electronic braille pocket calendar for Duxbury users. It is formatted such that one month fits one nine line page and is 32 cells wide. This fits Canute perfectly.

You can download the 2022 edition free from this page.

For further information, please email George Bell.

New Books for the Book Club

A quick reminder of the books for next term’s Book Club:

  • Beginners: Paddington Turns Detective and Other Funny Stories, by Michael Bond (a continuation from this term)
  • Intermediate: Holding, by Graham Norton
  • Advanced: Black Beauty, by Anna Sewell

All of these books are available via RNIB Reading Services and are also included on the latest RNIB Orbit Reader SD Card.

The Book Club takes place every Thursday at 6:00 PM in the UK. The first session of the new year will be on Thursday 6 January 2022.

Mary, Please Get IN Touch

Stephanie, who manages our equipment, recently received a phone call from someone called Mary from Northern Ireland. Unfortunately she has been unable to return it as she has mislaid her number. Therefore Mary, please get in touch with Stephanie on 020 3893 3392. Thank you.

Latest Podcast: Focus Braille Displays, ElBraille and JAWS 2022 (Episode 36)

Published on 30th November

Freedom Scientific is perhaps best known for its popular JAWS screen reader, but it also manufactures the Focus line of refreshable braille displays. The first generation of these well-known units was released in the early 2000s, and now the fifth generation is available in 14, 40 and 80-cell configurations, with the 40-cell version being an integral part of the ElBraille from Elita Group. To tell us more, I'm joined by Ron Miller, Blindness Hardware Product Specialist at Vispero.

UK Pricing

All products available from Sight and Sound Technology Ltd and all prices given ex VAT.Focus 14 £1275 Focus 40 £2950 Focus 80 £7850 ElBraille 40 £1535 with Intel M3 or £1825 with Intel I5

e036.mp3 96.8 MB

Find out more at

There’s Still Time to Register for Braille for Beginners

Do you want to learn the basics of braille but not quite sure where to start? Have you attempted to learn previously but not quite managed or finding that you’re getting a bit rusty? Perhaps you know someone who wants to learn braille but isn’t aware of the Braillists?

No matter the reason we’ll be making sure everyone feels welcome in the third edition of our popular Braille for Beginners course, taking place over 8 Tuesdays starting on 11 January. It is free to attend and if you give us your address when registering we’ll even pop some learning resources in the post free of charge to help you follow along with our new, custom learning curriculum. We’ll also be providing support between sessions through a dedicated email discussion group and regular contact with our tutor Mel.

If you would like to learn more or register for the course, visit

Links and Meeting IDs for our Regular Events


Registration Link
Telephone Number
0131 460 1196
Meeting ID
824 7645 2710

Braille Bar

Join Link
Telephone Number
0131 460 1196
Meeting ID
880 3508 8878

Book Club

Join Link
Telephone Number
0131 460 1196
Meeting ID
893 5322 0947

For more information, visit To join by phone, refer to the instructions at Our events are carefully moderated in line with our policy at Note that all events take place in the UK and are listed in UK time.

Join the Braillists on Social Media

Braillists Foundation

Copyright © 2021 Braillists, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails? You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp