The ability to read and write braille gives blind and visually impaired
people a real chance at equality. But they need something to read.
Braille transcriptionists, also called braillists or braille transcribers,
work to change written material into braille.
When the work is finished, the braille product is equal to the print product
-- math equations, diagrams, maps, music and all.
A braille transcriptionist faces the challenge of producing tactile diagrams
where there are visual diagrams in books. They must also constantly check
for meaning, and decide how to best present a passage or a diagram.
This career requires a lot of work on computers. Scanning text, using
a braille software program and using a drafting software program are all day-to-day
duties. Keen proofing skills are especially important to make sure that any
scanned text has been properly transcribed into braille.
"Technology is constantly improving the speed at and method by which braille
books can be produced," says braille transcriber Thea Merz.
"Programs allow both typing as well as braille input. But the proofing
still needs to be done in braille, for which an accurate knowledge of braille
and its rules is essential."
Braille transcriptionists work in offices, resource centers, schools or
their homes. School boards, adult education literacy programs or any other
service providers of people who are blind should be the first places for aspiring
braille transcriptionists to seek work.
Most braille transcriptionists work average office hours. Those working
at schools get summers off. Those working from home on a freelance basis
can select their own hours, as long as they finish the work by the deadline.
Braille transcriptionists need to stay focused for hours on end while sitting
in front of a computer. The job is not physically demanding, but typical
injuries can occur that are associated with repetitive movements in hands,
arms or shoulders.
"I would not advise a blind person to become a braille transcriptionist
due to the need to visually discriminate print," says Susan Graham. She is
a braille transcriber for a school board.
"Ironically, the most used parts of the body needed to transcribe braille
are the eyes."
However, it is possible for a blind person to become a braille transcriber.
"We have had a deaf transcriber recently retire, and a blind person still
works with us on contract, using a volunteer reader to help proof her work,"
"The only trouble was that the blind person could not see the sign language
used by the deaf person, and the deaf person could not hear the blind person
speak. They communicated through brailled notes to each other, but both were
able to do their specific assigned tasks well."