News Release
Toronto, April 2004
International Council on English Braille

Green Light for Unified English Braille

The International Council on English Braille has given the go-ahead to the unification of English-language Braille codes after thirteen years of analysis, research and debate.

Meeting in Toronto on April 2, the General Assembly agreed that Unified English Braille is sufficiently complete for recognition as an international standard for English-language Braille that may now be considered by member countries for possible adoption as their national Braille code.

“This is a historic day for equitable access to literacy by blind people in both developed and developing countries,” said Dr Frederick Schroeder, President of the International Council on English Braille. “We want to make Braille more accessible for students, leisure readers and professionals: easier to learn, cheaper to produce, convenient to teach and more plentiful.”

Dr Schroeder said that Braille is the tactual representation of visual script used worldwide, and that as language changes, and as textbooks become more visually-enriched, Braille must adapt to reflect complex visual information being conveyed tactually. He said “Braille literacy is clearly the best indicator of employability for blind school and college graduates. As users of Braille we can readily testify to the positive difference it has made to our lives.”

Unified English Braille allows the transcription into Braille of literary and mathematics texts using a single code, and facilitates the international exchange of Braille books.

Speaking about the endorsement of Unified English Braille, Jean Obi, Co-ordinator of the Nigerwives Braille Book Production Centre said: “Unified English Braille is a great step forward for educational opportunities for blind children in developing countries such as Nigeria. Braille is their key to literacy, but there is still so much to be done as less than 5% of blind children in developing countries ever receive the gift of literacy through Braille.”

The International Council on English Braille brings together representatives of Braille authorities and other experts from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Nigeria, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States. Its Third General Assembly, jointly hosted by the Canadian National Institute for the Blind and the Canadian Braille Authority, addressed Braille research, international Braille book exchange and outreach to developing countries in addition to Unified English Braille.

For more information contact Darleen Bogart, CNIB National Braille Convenor,
William Jolley, ICEB Public Relations Officer,
International Council on English Braille,

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