Volume 8, Issue 3

Winter 2007


The purpose of Wisconsin Braille Inc. is to advance communication and coordinate the efforts of all persons concerned with the availability, quality, and distribution of brailled materials in the state of Wisconsin thereby encouraging braille literacy.


Library of Congress,

National Library Service,

Braille Development Department



The services of the Braille Development Department of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) have been transferred to the National Federation of the Blind. NFB will be assuming the responsibilities for the courses in literary braille, Nemeth (math and science), and music.


Following are statements made by the two agencies, released in early January, announcing the move.


# # #




The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Library of Congress, will turn over administrative tasks of the braille certification program to the National Federation of the Blind, beginning in early 2007.


NLS recently awarded a competitive contract to NFB to conduct tasks such as grading the many lessons and the final test manuscript required for braille certification. Authority and oversight of the program will remain with NLS; NFB's role is strictly administrative.


"For 63 years, NLS has been solely responsible for all braille certification in this country, but times change," said NLS Director Frank Kurt Cylke. "The methods of braille production have changed dramatically, and to best serve our patrons we must keep pace. For that reason, we are outsourcing the provision of training courses and validation that are currently handled by our Braille Development Section. NFB, a long-time advocate for braille in the United States, has demonstrated expertise in braille technology and is highly qualified to administer this program."


Since 1943, NLS has offered courses in literary braille transcription for Library of Congress certification. Courses in mathematics and music transcribing, as well as literary and mathematics proofreading, were later added. Approximately 200 transcribers and proofreaders receive certification each year.


"NLS will remain the certifying authority for braille transcribers, guaranteeing the high standards associated with the work of its transcribers and proofreaders," said Cylke.


NLS will continue to produce braille materials through its contractors for more than 42,000 patrons who read braille. NLS produces about 600 braille books each year that are distributed through the NLS national network of braille-lending local libraries. It also provides 33 braille magazines to nearly 700 subscribers.


Contact information for current and prospective braille transcribers will be provided shortly after the transition has taken place. For further information, contact NLS Consumer Relations Officer Judith Dixon at jdix@loc.gov or (202) 707-0722.


# # #


National Federation of the Blind Will Manage National
Braille Transcribing and Proofreading Certification Program


Baltimore, Maryland: The National Federation of the Blind (NFB), announced  that the NFB has been awarded a contract by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped of the Library of Congress (NLS) to conduct that agency’s National Braille Transcribing and Proofreading Certification Program. The announcement comes on the anniversary of the birth of Louis Braille (1809-1852), the French inventor of the reading and writing system universally accepted as the most effective literacy tool for blind persons.


The contract from NLS was awarded to the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute. The Institute will conduct all administrative functions of the certification program, including the recruitment, training, and evaluation of individuals wishing to become certified braille transcribers and proofreaders. Jennifer Dunnam will serve as manager of the braille programs.


Dr. Betsy Zaborowski, Executive Director of the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute, said: “We are pleased and proud to have the opportunity to work with NLS to implement this critically important program. We are dedicated to significantly increasing the number of qualified braille transcribers and proofreaders, thus making braille literature, instructional materials, and musical scores more available to the blind of America.”




At press time, final details were still being ironed out. Mark Riccobono, Director of Education at NFB, assures us that "Braille literacy is of top concern to us at NFB, and the vital role that competent, well trained, transcribers play is part of the formula for success . . . we want to make sure that everything is done correctly and in a manner that advances this program in a meaningful way. . . we believe we will have many elements in place over the next couple of months. Of course, the first priority will be to take care of the backlog of candidate manuscripts."


For those who have manuscripts or exams ready to submit, Riccobono suggests waiting until after January 20. Then contact transcribers@nfb.org or phone (410) 659-9314 for instructions. NFB and NLS websites will be announcing updated information as it becomes available.


[Mark Riccobono is a 1999 graduate of the University of Wisconsin and was the first director of the Wisconsin Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired. He has been with NFB since 2003.]



About the

National Federation of the Blind


The National Federation of the Blind was founded in 1940, and now has more than 50,000 members. It is the largest membership organization of blind people in the United States, improving blind people’s lives through advocacy, education, research, technology, and programs encouraging independence and self-confidence. In January 2004 the NFB opened the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute, the first research and training center in the United States for the blind led by the blind.



"To the fearful change is threatening because things may get worse. To the hopeful it is encouraging because things may get better."


Wisconsin Prison Braille Program Update


By Dennis H.

            Last year when I wrote this article I started out by telling you that a lot of things have changed. Once again, a lot has changed. I suppose the biggest change is that our Program Director, David Hines, received a promotion and as a result has left the Braille program. We thank him for all of his efforts while he was here with us. Without him, the program would not be at the level that it is at today. We wish him success and happiness in his new position as an Education Director. With this change, the staff and administration here at OSCI have been diligent in ensuring the future of the Braille program. Of course it has taken three people to fill Dave's shoes. A permanent instructor/program director is in the works and we look forward to welcoming them soon. Even among these changes, business does go on.

            Continued growth of the program and continued education for the transcribers has been the key this year. We now have 7 Certified Literary transcribers, with 2 more waiting on their manuscripts to return, as well as one more student who is half-way through his lessons, and doing quite well I might add. So, by the time you read this, we are looking forward to having 10 fully qualified transcribers. Of those 10, two are now certified in the Nemeth Braille Code for Mathematics and Scientific Notation, and two more have just completed the course and are awaiting a grade on their exams. Two are also working on the Music Braille course and are looking forward to completing in the early part of 2007. All of the current 7 and future 3 literary transcribers are excited about taking the Braille Formats test and receiving their certificate from that as well. Of course we are very thankful to all of our instructors and outside support for the encouragement and assistance we receive as we work on these courses, as well as our continued education with the presentation of the NBA workshops that Connie and Mary Ann bring us. So, our thanks go out to Constance Risjord, Mary Ann Damm, Helen Hay (our math mentor), and Karen Gerrald (our music mentor in North Carolina), and to so many others who support us everyday.

            As for production, it seems like our embossers never stop running. This is both a blessing and an annoyance. The constant pounding of three embossers can get a little old. But of course, this also means that we are busy getting braille out to the students who need it and that is after all what we are here for. As a matter of fact, we have been embossing so much that we are now looking into purchasing a higher end production embosser to help meet the demand. In addition to that, we are striving to keep up with technology. We have upgraded our computers once again in order to make better use of the technology available in translation software, and continue to train the 15 workers on all the updates. With any luck, all this work will pay off in the future when the men are released and can put these skills to work beyond the prison walls.

            The WisBrl book project, ah, the book project. We all love the book project here. These summer reading books have always provided us a nice rest from the tedium of working on textbooks (especially math) all the time. That of course is the selfish reason. The real joy comes from finally getting these books out to the kids so they can enjoy reading them. We know that in the past we have kind of fallen behind a bit on the book project. However, we are now caught up and plan to stay that way (especially when we get our new embosser).              So, it is our goal for the future to get these books out to everyone before the end of the school year. In cooperation with WisBrl, the book project now has a total of 83 titles with more to be added this year. What a great project!

            Keeping with tradition, I've asked our workers if they would like to say anything. Here is what some had to say:


            Josh L.: "Learning braille has been challenging for me. In hindsight I wouldn't have it any other way. There haven't been too many long-term goals I have completed in my short 29 years on this earth. This course has been one of them. I'm glad I didn't give up when a few bumps came in the road. I'm looking forward to the good news that I have passed with a great score. This is my hope anyway.

            "All in all, Braille here at OSCI has been a time of character building for me. This ought to be with anything worthwhile. I look forward to growing up more and more and hopefully make someone's life more full through this work."

            Josh J.: "Every year we do more, learn more and contribute more to the braille community. We are the one stop braille shop!"

            Jason: "I've currently been with the OSCI Braille Program for over two and a half years. While undertaking the process of obtaining my Literary Certification, I found the work challenging. Now, after becoming certified in Literary Braille transcription, I have chosen to undertake the task of becoming certified in the Nemeth Braille Code for Mathematics and Scientific Notation. Needless to say, this undertaking has been quite challenging as well. I've found that the opportunity to use my time for the betterment of others has been very rewarding, and I'm honored to be able to aid those in need through the utilization of the skills I've learned here at the OSCI Braille Program."

            Lupe: "I now know how much of a privilege it is to be in the braille program, not only to further my education but to know how people without sight can have the same education that those of us with sight can have. I believe that as a community, we need to be more aware of these types of programs and to get active toward helping those without sight to achieve their goals in life."

            And me, Dennis: "As always, it has been a challenging year between transcribing, music braille lessons, and production. I wouldn't have it any other way."

   With that, we look forward to another successful year ahead and as always Braille On!


Connie: Let me slip in a word. What these men have not told you is how very hard they work. They spend five days a week, six hours a day at their computer terminals brailling. Their devotion to the project is an inspiration. Mary Ann Damm and I make the trip to Oshkosh about every five to six weeks and spend a full day answering questions and presenting workshops. We try to bring to them all the things that transcribers on the outside learn by attending professional development conferences and through association with other transcribers. The men are highly inquisitive and ask thoughtful questions. Our roundtable meetings are often intense — but they are also full of joking and laughter. At one session one of the inmates said, "Shhh, if the guards hear us we'll be in trouble 'cause we are having too much fun."


Braille Corner


Dear Ms. Perkins,

            On a continued Special Symbols Page, the Braille Formats rule states that we are to put Special Symbols (cont.) on line 1, or on line 2 if there is a running head. When there is a continuing category heading the rule also states to put it on line 1 or 2 followed by (cont.). I thought this meant that on pages where there is no category continuing, I would put Special Symbols (cont.), but on a page where a category heading is continued, only the category heading followed by cont. would be used. I am told that is not right. Can you clarify for me the proper format for this?

            Yours truly,



Dear Baffled,

            This rule is not clearly stated, but the answer can be found in the last sentence of Rule 2§5d(1).

            When you have a continued Special Symbols page, here is what you do (let's assume you are using a running head):

line 1: running head

line 2: Special Symbols (cont.) [centered]

line 3: listing continues UNLESS there is a continuing category. If so, the category heading followed by (cont.), brailled as a cell-5 heading, goes on this line.

            An added note about the Special Symbols  Page: When a category heading explains the function of the following symbols (e.g., reference indicators), or if the function is implicit in the name (e.g., termination sign), only the symbol and its name need be listed. However, if the function is not made clear in the name, each symbol, followed by its meaning or function, must be given as it is explained in the print text. When print does not explain a symbol's print equivalent, give the name, function, or a brief description of the print sign. (R2§5d(3)(b))


               Ms. Perkins



Braille Book Recycling Project


        The following books in braille are available without charge to anyone interested. They are not new, but have been lovingly read by another and are ready to be passed on. If you are interested, please call Pat Foltz at 608-455-1522 or e-mail her at psfoltz@tds.net.

        Reminder: If you have books that you obtained through the WisBrl book project that you no longer want, please send them to Pat so she can add them to the list.








number of vols.

A to Z Mysteries:

       Ninth Nugget, The


Roy, Ron



       Vampire’s Vacation, The

Roy, Ron


       Orange Outlaw, The

Roy, Ron


       White Wolf, The

Roy, Ron


In the Goal with… Briana Scurry

Christopher, Matt


On the Mound with… Curt Schilling

Christopher, Matt


On the Ice with…Tara Lipinski

Christopher, Matt


Behind the Desk with… Matt     

Christopher, Dale


On the Bike with…Lance Armstrong

Christopher, Matt


On the Court with…
      Venus & Serena Williams

Christopher, Matt


Junie B Jones is Captain Field Day

Park, Barbara


Junie B., First Grader Shipwrecked

Park, Barbara






The next meeting of the board of directors of Wisconsin Braille Inc. will be held on March 3rd at 10 a.m. in Madison. Meetings are open to all. For further information, contact Vonna Johnson-Porter at 608-838-8959.



Ask Mr. #s

Dear Mr. #s,

   Fractions seem to be presented in so many different ways in Nemeth. Are they different and is it important to distinguish between them?


        Over the Line


Dear Over the Line,

   Yes, they are different and it is important to distinguish between them so that the print can be accurately represented. Generally, fractions are divided into Simple Fractions, Mixed Numbers, Complex Fractions, and for Nemeth purposes, Spatial Fractions.

   Simple fractions (those whose numerators and denominators contain no fractions except possibly as superscripts or subscripts) are brailled using the following indicators:


   ? Opening Simple Fraction Indicator

   # Closing Simple Fraction Indicator

   / Horizontal Simple Fraction Line

   _/ Diagonal Simple Fraction Line


   Simple fractions, whether separated by a horizontal or diagonal line are transcribed in linear format, unless otherwise indicated (these indications will be discussed in future issues).

   The use of these Simple Fraction Indicators is dependent on how the fraction is presented in text.

   If the fraction is shown with the numerator and denominator separated by a horizontal line, the Opening and Closing Fraction Indicators and the Horizontal Simple Fraction Line are used.



     ¾  ?3/4#      a/b  ?a/b#

   If a diagonal line separates the numerator and denominator the Simple Fraction Indicators are not used UNLESS the numerator and denominator are not on the same levels of writing or they are shown in a typeface different from the surrounding text.


     1/2  #1_/2  

     a+b/c+d  a+b_/c+d

   When brailling fractions, pay attention to how they are printed, and be sure to consult Rule XII §61-63 of The Nemeth Braille Code for Mathematics and Science Notation.

   I will cover the other types of fractions in future issues.



        Mr. #s


[Address your questions to Ms. Perkins or Mr. #s

c/o Wisconsin Braille Inc., P.O. Box 45076, Madison, WI 53744-5076.]






Don't Wait!


Membership renewal notices will be sent out next month, but you can help Wisconsin Braille Inc. save money by paying your dues now. Simply use the renewal application at the end of this newsletter.

          Your support and continued interest in the goals of this organization are greatly appreciated.



The Wisconsin Braille newsletter is published three times a year. Deadlines are: Spring/Summer – May 1, Fall – September 1, Winter – December 15



The purpose of this newsletter is to disperse information. Wisconsin Braille Inc. does not endorse or vouch for the reliability of any of the persons, organizations, or products appearing in this publication.



Wisconsin Braille Inc. welcomes letters from readers on all subjects concerning braille and blindness. Publication of letters will be at the editor’s discretion. Letters must be signed, but names will be withheld upon request.




Use the following form to join or renew your membership to Wisconsin Braille Inc. Please make checks and money orders payable to: WISCONSIN BRAILLE INC.


Regular membership, annual dues: $10

Sustaining membership, annual dues: $30

Lifetime membership: $200


Please include: the date, your name, address, phone number, and e-mail address. Also advise if you wish printed material to be sent to you in regular type, e-mail or braille.


Please answer the following: What is your affiliation with the braille-reading community? (List all that apply.) Teacher, educational assistant, transcriber, proofreader, administrator, producer, parent, user, other (specify).


Return application and payment to: Wisconsin Braille Inc., Membership Chair,

5263 Anna Lane, Middleton, WI 53562



This version of the Wisconsin Braille newsletter was prepared by the members of the OSCI Braille Program. It has not been proofread. Readers are encouraged to report noted errors to: Wisconsin Braille Newsletter, Editor,  P.O. Box 45076, Madison, WI 53744-5076.

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