This report is supplementary to the principal report of Committee II, dated March 2, 1995 (corrected through June 22, 1995), and covers all the additional work and changes made since that report was published. Consequently, except for changes specifically detailed here, that earlier report still applies.
For the period covered by this report, the members of the Objective II Committee were:
A separate UBC Symbols List is a companion to this report, providing an up-to-date list of the symbols defined for UBC (except for grade 2 and certain special modes). See that list also for information on settings and/or fonts that may be required for best viewing of the braille characters in this document.
By motions adopted in December 1995 and March 1997, the Committee defined a special mode of UBC known as "alignment mode".
The purpose of alignment mode is to accommodate those relatively rare cases where there is a compelling reason to give physical arrangement issues, notably horizontal space taken and the vertical alignment of symbols, priority over the preciseness and richness of representation that normally characterizes UBC. Specifically, alignment mode provides for a regime in which each of the 64 braille characters represents a print character. In other words, there are no multi-cell signs; the normal rules of UBC symbol formation are suspended.
Examples of such cases, i.e. where physical arrangement MIGHT be an overriding need, would be: (1) spatially arranged hexadecimal arithmetic and (2) displaying computer reports or computer screen arrangements in such a way that the physical layout is precisely preserved for analysis. Neither of these examples absolutely requires alignment mode, because it would always be possible to use regular UBC multi-cell representations for the various characters and still keep them aligned, if there is sufficient horizontal room. However, alignment mode provides an alternative when there isn't room or a 1-to-1 representation is deemed important for other reasons.
Within alignment mode, the normal set of defined symbols is given in the following list. The assignments are designed for maximal compatibility with normal UBC; other reasons are given within parentheses:
Alignment mode should be used only when alignment on a symbol-by-symbol basis is important throughout groups of symbols on the same line, as in the working layouts mentioned. It is not needed and should not be used in cases such as tables, outlines, and computer programs where the alignment applies only to groups as a whole, usually to the beginnings of groups (e.g. to a column of names that are left-aligned within the column).
When considering the use of alignment mode, it should be taken into account that alignment mode is inherently ambiguous--for example, there is no way to distinguish the case of letters. Sometimes such ambiguity does not affect the essential meaning of the material--"a" and "A" normally have the same meaning as hexadecimal digits, for instance. But if the meaning is affected, alignment mode must be avoided and standard UBC used, even though a wider layout may result.
All in all, alignment mode is to be used rarely.
If print symbols not on the standard alignment-mode list appear in a physical layout that is to be transcribed in alignment mode, braille characters corresponding to unused symbols may be reassigned and explained in a transcriber's note.
Alignment mode is signalled by the following entrance and exit symbols:
There is an unavoidable technical ambiguity that is inherent in any exit symbol for alignment mode, because all 64 possible braille characters, even those used strictly for prefixes in mainstream UBC, have been assigned a meaning in alignment mode, consistent with its purpose. So the exit symbol could theoretically mean "vertical line, vertical line, apostrophe", for instance. With the assigned exit symbol, the probability of such ambiguities arising in real cases was judged extremely low.
Because of the special way that braille characters are used in alignment mode and the fact that the normal UBC symbol formation rules are not followed, alignment mode is in some ways more like a distinct code than a part of "proper" UBC. For this reason, only the entry and exit symbols for alignment mode are normally listed with standard UBC symbols.
By motion adopted in July 1996, the Committee established a second type of "dot locator" symbol, namely
When the traditional "mention" dot locator (already assigned as
When the "use" dot locator precedes a symbol, it merely ensures that the braille reader is able to read that following symbol; it has no effect on the meaning of that symbol. So if the following symbol is the grade 1 passage indicator, for instance, there is a switch to grade 1 interpretation, just as when the dot locator is not present. When translating braille to print, a "use" locator would be ignored.
"Mention" locators occur only when braille is being discussed as a subject--as in this document, and in braille instruction manuals, for example. In literature generally, they would occur infrequently.
"Use" locators would be useful whenever a braille symbol needs to be isolated in space, so that the braille reader could not otherwise tell what dots are present. For example, a colon (dots 2-5) that is far from surrounding text could not readily be distinguished from a hyphen (dots 3-6) or the letter "c" (dots 1-4). For the most part, braille is designed so that such cases rarely arise, but since they can arise, the "use" locator is expected to be useful though infrequent. Probably the most common use will be to allow grade 1 passage opening and closing indicators to be isolated on lines by themselves, thus leaving the line-by-line arrangement of enclosed material (such as computer programs) aligned more naturally.
By motion adopted in October 1996, the Committee adopted a set of standard UBC symbols to be used for representing lines or segments of lines in diagrams, as in structural chemical formulae. To do so, it was necessary also to change the assignment of the "new line" indicator (typically used in poetry) from that given in the March 1995 report, and to constrain contraction usage slightly (though not so that any real words are affected). The full text as adopted is given in the numbered paragraphs below:
1. The "line sign" (dots 3-4-5, section 3.15 of the March 1995
report) is to be reassigned to
2. In any word that consists entirely of the letter-groups "ar" and "gh" catenated in any order, or that commences with three or more such groups, no matter how capitalized, the first "gh" or "ar" must not be contracted.
3. Horizontal lines: To draw a horizontal line (other than the
hyphen, dash and minus sign, which are separately defined): (a)
for horizontal lines indistinguishable from a dash, including
simple horizontal chemical bonds, the dash symbol
Valid UBC symbols other than those listed above, and excluding
4. Vertical lines: Vertical line segments are drawn using
5. Diagonal lines: Diagonal line segments are drawn using
6. The diagonal line symbols are to be used for vertical line segments at points where the vertical lines are crossing or otherwise too near diagonal lines to permit the required space between the two kinds of lines.
The following points were noted with respect to these "line" provisions:
There seems to be only one "word", namely AR (as in the postal abbreviation for Arkansas) that matches the definition of provision 2, and it had already been determined that a contraction would not be used in that case because it conflicted with the line sign as previously assigned. So provision 2 will not result in any real contraction loss, and will allow line drawings to be used in grade 2 as easily as in grade 1, without indicators or ambiguity.
Similarly, there is no real loss in the added restriction, in
provision 4, that the passage terminators
And again, the added restrictions on enclosure symbols in provision 5 do not constrain any actual need, since it would never be necessary or desirable to have enclosure symbols surrounded by spaces (recalling that they are braille indicators, and so need not be spaced from the symbols they enclose). (By implication, enclosures could never be used to enclose line segments, which would not be sensible anyway given the different purposes of the two devices.) Enclosures and lines could very well coexist in the same diagram, and would do so without ambiguity as to which is which.
The Committee also noted that the technology for producing "real" tactile lines -- for example, by using paper especially coated so that arbitrarily drawn lines can be raised by heat -- is advancing rapidly. Methods are being developed that enable blind persons to compose graphics, either directly (e.g. using "pens" with heated tips) or through adapted computer-assisted drawing (CAD) programs. All this means that even better ways of doing tactile diagrams may often be available. However, there no doubt will remain many practical situations where it will be useful to employ ordinary braille cells, spaced as in regular text, for diagrammatic purposes (a view that is reflected in the BANA chemistry code, for instance). These provisions are meant to allow for that case, and by no means to discourage more advanced means of producing diagrams when they are practical.
By motion adopted in January 1999, in response to the evident wishes of braille readers to preserve the use of the current single-cell quotation marks in all nontechnical cases, not just in "larger works", the Committee relaxed the relevant rule as stated in the March 1995 report accordingly.
The original (March 1995) rule read:
The nonspecific quotes, that is those that are not distinguished as to whether they are "double" or "single" or "Italian", may be used at the transcriber's discretion for the predominant quotation marks in larger works, in which case a transcriber's note would clarify which specific kind of mark was intended.
That paragraph was altered and two new paragraphs added, so that the rule now reads:
The nonspecific quotes, that is those that are not distinguished as to whether they are "double" or "single" or "Italian", should be used for the predominant quotes in all instances where the specific form of quotation marks has no technical significance (that is, in the great majority of cases).
When non-specific quotes are used in a document, their use should include all instances of that form of quote that meet the criteria of the previous paragraph, e.g. both outer quotes and second-level inner quotes.
When practical, it is desirable to provide nonintrusive means by which the braille reader can determine the original form of quotes, even in nontechnical cases. Transcriber's notes, inclusion on special symbols pages, or any other such means of providing the information are encouraged, as permitted by the production context.
By motion adopted in March 1999, the Committee assigned UBC symbols for the print currency symbols used for the new "Euro" and also the Nigerian Niara. In order to maintain consistency in symbol patterns, the UBC symbols for the set-membership operators "reverse element" (i.e. "contains the element") and "is an element of" (i.e. "belongs to") were reassigned at the same time. The resulting symbol assignments are:
At this writing (October 1999), a set of chemistry-related symbols has been proposed but not yet acted upon. The Committee expects to take these up next, and expects also to revisit certain mathematical subjects (notably Geometry) where the assigned symbol set may need to be expanded to provide adequate coverage.