What is a Braille Transcriber?
Braille transcribers are professionals who convert written materials into braille, a tactile writing system that enables blind and partially sighted people to read and write through touch. Braille transcribers use specialized software and equipment to create braille versions of various written materials, including books, textbooks, legal documents, and other types of printed matter. These highly detail-oriented technicians must have a strong command of both the language they are transcribing and the braille code, which consists of patterns of raised dots arranged in cells that correspond to letters, numbers, punctuation marks, and other symbols.
Thanks to Frenchman Louis Braille, who developed the braille code at age 15 after losing his sight as a result of a childhood accident, and to braille transcribers throughout the world, the blind and visually impaired have equal and independent access to information and educational and employment opportunities, allowing them to participate fully in society.
What does a Braille Transcriber do?
While the responsibilities and tasks carried out by these technicians can vary depending on their specific role, here is an overview of what a typical day in the life of a braille transcriber may entail:
- Following guidelines – Braille transcribers need to be familiar with the guidelines for braille transcription, which can vary depending on their country of employment and/or the organization for which they work. They must ensure that their work is accurate and consistent with all relevant guidelines and standards.
- Using braille software – Braille transcribers must be proficient in using braille software, which aids them in transcribing printed text into braille. They must also be able to use a braille embosser (an impact printer that renders text as tactile braille cells) to produce hard copies of braille documents.
- Adapting materials – Braille transcribers may need to adapt materials for different types of learners. For example, they may need to create tactile diagrams or illustrations to accompany the braille text.
- Collaborating with educators – Braille transcribers may work closely with educators and other professionals to ensure that braille materials are appropriate for their students. They may also provide training on how to use braille materials effectively.
- Communicating with clients – Responding to clients’ questions and concerns and providing them with updates on projects is another aspect of the braille transcriber’s job.
- Maintaining confidentiality – It is vitally important that braille transcribers maintain confidentiality when working with sensitive materials, such as medical records or financial documents.
Beyond these general responsibilities, there are several specialized areas in which braille transcribers may focus their work. Here are some of the most common:
- Mathematics and Science – Braille transcribers with expertise in mathematics and science can transcribe complex mathematical equations, scientific symbols, and other technical content into braille.
- Music – Braille transcribers who specialize in music can transcribe sheet music and other musical notation into braille, allowing blind or partially sighted musicians to read and play music independently.
- Foreign Languages – Braille transcribers with fluency in one or more foreign languages can transcribe materials written in those languages into braille, making them accessible to blind or visually impaired people who speak those languages.
- Medical – Braille transcribers with the appropriate medical knowledge can transcribe medical-related documents such as clinical and psychiatry reports, as well as patient charts and procedure notes.
- Legal – Braille transcribers with knowledge of legal terminology and formatting can transcribe legal documents, such as contracts and court filings, into braille.
- Textbook Production – Braille transcribers with the required expertise can transcribe textbooks and other educational materials into braille, ensuring that students who are blind or partially sighted have equal access to education.
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What is the workplace of a Braille Transcriber like?
Braille transcribers work in a variety of industries and organizations that serve or support people who are blind or visually impaired. Here is a snapshot of their most common employers and what their workplaces may be like:
- Braille transcription companies – Braille transcribers at these companies are typically tasked with transcribing general literary materials. Some transcription companies, however, may specialize in a particular field or fields, such as medical, legal, or corporate, and hire only transcribers with the required specialized training.
- Schools and universities – Many schools and universities have special programs for students who are blind or visually impaired, and they may employ braille transcribers to transcribe textbooks and other educational materials into braille. Transcribers working for educational institutions often work closely with teachers and other educators.
- Libraries – Braille transcribers may be hired by libraries to transcribe books, magazines, and other written materials into braille for their blind and partially sighted patrons.
- Publishing houses – Braille transcribers are employed by publishing houses to create braille versions of their books and other materials for wider distribution. They may work closely with editors and other staff members to ensure that braille transcriptions are accurate and of high quality.
- Government agencies – Braille transcribers who work in the government sector transcribe important documents, such as voting materials or tax forms, into braille.
- Non-profit organizations – Many non-profit organizations that serve the blind and partially sighted employ braille transcribers to provide accessible materials to their clients.
Braille transcribers may also work as independent contractors or freelancers, providing braille transcription services to individuals and organizations on a contract basis. Freelancers often use their own equipment and software to complete their work, though in some cases the client may provide these.
Depending on their employer, braille transcribers may work in an onsite office, from home, or from another remote location.
Braille Transcribers are also known as:
Braille Transcriptionist Braille Transcription Technician Braille Translator Braille Editor Braille Scribe Braille Copyist Braille Producer Braille Specialist Braillist