What’s New in Braille Math?

Authors: Cyral Miller, Director of Outreach Programs, TSBVI

Keywords: UEB, Nemeth Code, braille, math

Abstract: Efforts to train staff in Nemeth Code across Texas

For a year now, braille news has been dominated by the impending switch from English Braille, American Edition (EBAE) to Unified English Braille Code (UEB). Teachers all over the country have been busy taking classes online and in groups, universities have begun offering UEB braille lessons in their personnel preparation classes, and the move is on!

On November 2, 2012, the United States members of the Braille Authority of North America (BANA) voted to adopt UEB to replace EBAE in the U.S. Part of the proclamation is below:

As of the implementation date in 2016, UEB, Nemeth, Music, and the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) will be the official codes for use in the United States. BANA is providing guidance on how to incorporate the Nemeth Code into UEB context with the intent that the Nemeth Code will continue to be integral to braille in the United States. The document Provisional Guidance for Transcription Using the Nemeth Code within UEB Contexts is available as PDF and BRF files on the BANA website.

The Texas Transition to UEB committee created a statewide plan. Discussion by the group as the plan was developed included recognition that new resources were needed to help increase Nemeth skills for both professionals and students. What has been available dates from as far back as the 1970s and badly needed updating. This effort has had several prongs:

  • Publication of Nemeth at a Glance, from the TSBVI curriculum department is anticipated by March, 2017. This terrific new resource includes a grade level chart to quickly scan and find needed math symbols as they are introduced in school and a new assessment of both reading and writing Nemeth skills. There are sections to help ensure that numeracy and tactile skills are appropriately addressed as part of mathematics literacy and many tips and strategies as well as example problems.
  • There have been seven workshops across the state, serving professionals in 12 of the 20 ESC regions, that were introductions to the Nemeth at a Glance. Participants got early release versions of the book, too!
  • An online course as a refresher in Nemeth that follows the same outline as the Nemeth at a Glance is in development with Dr. Derrick Smith as the author and the “voice” of the course. This will be posted on the TSBVI website under On-the-Go Learning and available to be taken in part or whole, for free.
  • Other ESCs have also offered training on Nemeth and in several regions there has been specific training for transcribers to ensure they use quality braille for tactile graphics, including how to incorporate Nemeth Code into the UEB context. TSBVI Braille Boot Camps have been offered for the past several years on campus and at regional service centers and include training on production of quality braille production following BANA guidelines.
  • Pat van Geem and Susan Mattson O’Brien have been working for the past two years to develop an online course in braille transcription that includes tactile graphics production. We are so saddened by Pat’s recent death, and look forward to his legacy being carried forward in this new course that he worked on literally throughout his last days. Susan Mattson O’Brien will continue to provide this training.

For more training resources on Nemeth, check the braille authority website, the TSBVI website, and your regional ESC website. The good news is that more is available than ever before.

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