May 2021

Braille Authority of North America Board Meeting: Spring 2021

Thursday, May 6th and Friday, May 7th, 2021
10:00-12:00 and 1:00-3:00 Eastern Time

1. Call to Order: Tamara Rorie

Tamara Rorie, BANA Chair, called the meeting to order at 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time.

2. Welcome: Tamara Rorie

Tamara welcomed everyone to the spring 2021 meeting of the BANA Board.

3. Self-Introductions: Representatives and Observers

The following board members and observers were in attendance:

  • Tamara Rorie, National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled, Library of Congress (NLS), Chair
  • Mary Nelle McLennan, Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER), Vice Chair
  • Jen Goulden, CNIB (Canadian National Institute for the Blind), Secretary
  • Danette Johnson, Hadley Institute for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Treasurer
  • Jennifer Dunnam, National Federation of the Blind (NFB), Immediate Past Chair
  • Marie Zaldivar, Alternate Text Production Center (ATPC), arrived as of 1:00 p.m. Eastern time on May 6th
  • Judy Dixon, American Council of the Blind (ACB)
  • Frances Mary (FM) D'Andrea, American Foundation for the Blind (AFB)
  • Guy Toles, Center for Inclusive Design and Innovation (CIDI)
  • Cathy Senft-Graves, American Printing House for the Blind (APH)
  • Tracy Gaines, California Transcribers and Educators for the Blind and Visually Impaired (CTEBVI)
  • Tina Seger, Clovernook Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired
  • Cindy Skandera, Horizons for the Blind
  • Cindi Laurent (representing Diane Spence), National Braille Association (NBA)
  • Amber Pearcy, National Braille Press (NBP)
  • Kim Charlson, Perkins School for the Blind
  • Susan (Sue) Reilly, Administrative Assistant
  • Holly Bullock, associate member Crawford Technologies


  • Kyle DeJute
  • Patty d’Ascenzo (on the afternoon of May 7th)


4. Zoom Protocols: Tamara Rorie

Tamara advised participants that the meeting is being recorded.

5. Board’s Liability Statement: Jen Goulden

In her role as BANA Secretary, Jen Goulden read the following statement: "BANA indemnifies its Officers and Board of Directors and holds them harmless from all claims of every kind, including court expenses, attorneys' fees, and the claimed amount arising from the performance of their duties as Officers and Directors except for their own acts of dishonesty and gross negligence." (Adopted March 30, 1987)

6. Agenda Approval: Tamara Rorie

Tamara called for approval of the agenda. She noted that we may not get through everything and that items will not necessarily be addressed in the order in which they appear on the agenda that was circulated.

MSC: Jen moved and Tina seconded that we approve the agenda as circulated. Motion carried.

7. Chair's Comments: Tamara Rorie

At various points in the meeting we discussed the schedule for Friday, May 7th. Ultimately, we decided that we would reconvene at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time, rather than the original start time of 10:00 a.m.

8. Braille Formats Technical Committee: Cindi Laurent

Guy summarized this report and Tamara asked Cindi if there was anything she wanted to add.

Jennifer provided an update on the Task Force working on the Formats Committee’s errata document. The Task Force divided up the Formats Committee’s recommendations into several categories, such as errata, clarifications, changes, and foreign language guidance. The Task Force needs to fine-tune the categories and address potential conflicts with the Tactile Graphics Guidelines. Tamara asked when the Task Force would be ready to present a proposal to the board on how to proceed with the recommendations. Jennifer suggested that the Task Force could create benchmarks to help clarify timelines and keep this project on target. Tamara would like the items that fall under the errata category to be posted by the fall board meetings.

The Task Force will meet with the Formats Committee to provide feedback and to discuss next steps.

Guy noted that the members of the Formats Committee have put in a tremendous amount of work and that they are constantly looking for ways to improve the guidelines.

9. Nemeth Technical Committee: Dorothy Worthington

Jennifer summarized this report and noted that the Nemeth Committee has put a lot of work into the revision of the Nemeth Code. Dorothy advised Jennifer that there are some minor adjustments that need to be made and then the file will be ready for review. The BRF is also ready. The Review Committee will be meeting during the week of May 10th to ensure that there are no unresolved issues regarding the review process for this document.

10. Tactile Graphics Technical Committee: Aquinas Pather

Tamara advised the board that Diane will give this report at our June meeting.

11. Music Braille Technical Committee: Karen Gearreald

Tamara summarized the report. She indicated that the committee continues to work on its charge to respond to enquiries about the Music Braille Code.

12. Foreign Language Task Force: Jennifer Dunnam

Jennifer will meet with the Foreign Language Task Force in the coming weeks and will give this report at the board meeting in June.

13. Ad Hoc Committee on Chemistry: Cary Supalo

FM summarized this report. She commented that the Chemistry Committee is productive and efficient. The committee meets every week and has been working extremely hard on the revision of the Chemistry Code. She thanked APH for producing the hard copy tactiles for Section 10, so that the Chemistry Committee could review them before the official review process begins.

The Chemistry Committee has also been working with representatives from the American Chemical Society to ensure that the symbols and representations used in the Chemistry Code revision are up-to-date. There are a few discrepancies between symbols used in the Chemistry Code and the Society’s nomenclature. The Society wants a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) specifying that the Code will be available free of charge. Tamara discussed this issue with the Chemistry Committee and there was debate about whether or not an MOU is really necessary. The hard copy print and braille versions produced by APH are not sold for a profit and are available to purchase with Federal quota funds. Tamara suggested that we need further clarification regarding the MOU. She and FM will meet with the Chemistry Committee and the Society this summer to follow up.

FM noted that the members of the Society have been very helpful and supportive.

Mountain View Braille Facility has made corrections to the BRF version of the 1997 Chemistry Code. The Chemistry Committee provided a proofreading report and Mountain View is making these changes as well.

14. International Council on English Braille: Frances Mary D'Andrea

The Executive Committee has been meeting monthly, which has really helped to keep the work of ICEB moving forward. The resolutions that came out of the General Assembly in October 2020 are the “marching orders” for ICEB. A sub-committee of the Code Maintenance Committee (CMC) has been established that will focus on a much-needed revision of the Guidelines for Technical Material. Progress was slow but now this sub-committee has a dedicated Chair, Dónal Fitzpatrick of Ireland. He will work closely with Kathy Riessen, Chair of the CMC. FM encouraged board members to subscribe to the ICEB-announce list.

Mary Schnackenberg of New Zealand coordinates the ICEB newsletter and is doing a fabulous job. If board members are interested in observing on any ICEB committees, please let Tamara know.

Jordie Howell of Australia is the Chair of the ICEB Music Braille Committee, which is working on a proposal to update the International Manual of Music Braille. If anyone is interested in music braille or has resources that could support this project, please let FM know.

The CMC is moving toward a vote on the issue of interior capitals where a shortform is contained in a longer word. Questions or feedback can be directed to Jennifer, FM or Jen. Note that Jennifer is the US voting representative to the CMC.

ICEB has a social media presence on Facebook and Twitter (ICEBbraille).

BANA no longer has a research committee but ICEB does. When FM sends out articles to this committee she also sends them to the BANA Board. When an article is not available free of charge, FM only sends out the abstract. Tamara asked if there is a repository of these articles but one does not exist at this time. Judy suggested that this could be a project for NLS Reference. Tamara will put them in touch with FM so she can share the articles she has already collected. Judy has a list of articles that Diane Wormsley put together for the World Braille Council in 2011 and will share that with NLS Reference as well.

15. Report of General Committee on Unified English Braille: Frances Mary D'Andrea

FM summarized this report. She thanked Tina for compiling the list of changes that need to be made on the UEB page of BANA’s website. These changes will be addressed after the web migration has been completed.

MSC: FM moved and Tina seconded that the disposition of Charge 371 be changed from ongoing to done. Motion carried.

[Charge 371 (11/7/19): Develop consistent terminology for referring to braille in technical materials to be completed no later than the Spring 2020 meeting.]

MSC: FM moved and Jen Seconded that the disposition of Charge 372 be changed from ongoing to done. Motion carried.

[Charge 372 (11/7/19): Work with the Publications Committee to post “An Overview of BANA Rules, Guidelines, and Guidance Documents” on the BANA website.]

The General Committee on UEB (GCUEB) had an email discussion about the Graphing Calculator Guidelines, which need to be aligned for use in UEB. The committee considered whether to invite Don Winiecki or Michele Hayes to be consultants to the GCUEB for the purposes of this project. Braille Literacy Canada (BLC) had been approached about this issue as well and would like to move ahead with the work. Bonnie Read and Hilda van Haren have offered to work on an initial draft. Jen will confirm that they are still willing to do so. The GCUEB does not currently have the technical expertise for this but can monitor what BLC is doing and provide feedback as requested.

GC: The GCUEB and the BANA Board are aware of the work of BLC regarding the development of Graphing Calculator Guidelines for UEB and that the GCUEB will review these guidelines once they are available.

UKAAF has developed a “problem word list” like the one in EBAE. The UEB rule book does not have a comparable list. Similar word lists have been developed in the US and Canada, such as the Braille Enthusiast’s Dictionary. The GCUEB would like to review these lists and make some rulings that could be shared with the CMC Officer. The GCUEB is requesting a charge to take this on.

MSC: FM moved and Jen seconded that the GCUEB be given a new charge to work with UKAAF to develop a list of words that are inconsistently transcrribed or contested between countries that will be shared with the CMC Officer. Motion carried.

16. Committee on Electronic Braille: Jen Goulden

Jen summarized the report. James Bowden has done a lot of work with UEB symbols in Liblouis. Jennifer highlighted the fact that NVDA has incorporated several important fixes, which are extremely helpful to braille readers. Mary Nelle asked if BANA should acknowledge this.

FM suggested a letter of thanks from BANA and Tamara would like to come back to this discussion at a future meeting.

Jennifer offered to update the test file used to verify what translation programs do correctly and where improvement is needed.

17. Publications Committee: Mary Nelle McLennan

Mary Nelle summarized the report.

MSC: Mary Nelle moved and Tina seconded that the disposition of Charge 355 be changed from ongoing to done. Motion carried.

[Charge 355 (5/2/19): Work with the Tactile Graphics Committee and the General Committee for Review Process to determine the process for the review of the upcoming tactile graphics revision and bring a recommendation to the Fall 2019 meeting.]

Mary Nelle asked the board if there are comments about errata in general or about the content of the Publications errata document in particular.

The revision of the Provisional Guidance for Chemistry Notation Using UEB with Nemeth was approved in 2020. This was the first file that Publications sent to CommonLook for remediation to Accessible PDF. There were some issues that needed to be addressed, but more importantly, there were content errors to correct. The document is now nearly ready to be posted, except for a minor adjustment to the BRF.

Mary Nelle stated that this is the first time since the workflow was implemented that we have had large documents to manage. Tactile Graphics is already underway, and we will address Chemistry and Nemeth to determine how to make the process work most efficiently. After these documents are completed we will evaluate how well the process worked.

The Provisional Guidance document really helped Publications to anticipate what will have to be addressed when the full Chemistry Code is ready to be produced.

Patty explained that in PDF files, alt text must be applied to math symbols so that they can be accessed by screen readers. This will be a monumental task when dealing with the full Chemistry Code. If we provide Word documents and end users have Office 365 and MathType, all of the equations will be read correctly. It is possible to convert symbols to MS Office Equation Editor and then they can be read by any screen reader. However, this is not a perfect solution because not all symbols are covered in this editor. We had a lengthy discussion regarding the pros and cons of providing accessible Word versions of the Chemistry Code for screen reader users. The Chemistry Committee has also expressed an interest in HTML. That being said, Publications and the Chemistry Committee are recommending that BANA consider making the Chemistry Code available in a printable PDF, a BRF and a locked MS Word document. This approach would enable us to make the Code available to our stakeholders in a more timely manner. Judy noted that ICEB makes its documents available in MS Word as well, rather than creating Accessible PDF documents. It is unclear as to which symbols may not convert to the MS Office Equation Editor, and this is an important consideration.

Mary Nelle asked that we deviate from our usual practice and post a locked MS Word file instead of an Accessible PDF. If we do this, we should provide a brief explanation of the change of format. This language has already been provided by the Chemistry Committee.

Tamara suggested that we vote on this question for the provisional guidance document and that we create a task force to make recommendations for future publications.

MSC: Jennifer moved and Mary Nelle seconded that we publish the revision of the Provisional Guidance on Chemistry Notation Using UEB with Nemeth in PDF, MS Word and BRF. Motion carried.

Finally, Mary Nelle advised that Tina will be the copyeditor for the Publications Committee. This is excellent news!

18. Task Force on Web Migration: Jennifer Dunnam

Jennifer summarized the report and noted that we will need more people who are willing to learn how to update content on the web site using Drupal. Anyone who is interested in this should let Jennifer and Tamara know.

Jennifer sent a link to BANA-l that gives us access to some sample pages for us to review. We need to give feedback by May 17th. Barring any major issues, we will soon be ready to go live. We will also purchase hosting services from Pantheon, at an approximate cost of $40 per month.

Jennifer noted that people may need to clear the cache in their browsers and update bookmarks. We may want to send a note about this to BANA-announce.

Jennifer thanked everyone on the Web Migration Task Force and gave a special “kudos to Sue” for all of her efforts migrating the listservs!!!

The Task Force is still looking into a repository to replace banafiles but they are looking for a solution that allows for differing levels of permissions. Google Workspace is a possibility, and there is a discounted rate for non-profits.

MSC: Jennifer moved and Cathy seconded that the disposition of Charge 386 be changed from TBA to ongoing. Motion carried.

[Charge 386 (10/5/20): Determine a modern, robust repository for storage and usage for BANA’s electronic files and ensure that BANA’s files are moved to it.]

Mary Nelle thanked Jennifer for her leadership on the web migration project.

Jennifer suggested that at some point we should create documentation for the maintenance of the BANA website.

MSC: Jennifer moved and Tina seconded that the Web Migration Task Force be charged with creating documentation on how to update content and perform other maintenance on the BANA website. Motion carried.

FM asked if we would be giving a certificate of appreciation or a gift for Sandy Smith. We will be doing this as soon as her work with the current website is officially completed.

19. BANA's "workplan" for the year

This item – as well as other activities around the working of BANA – will occur at specified times during the meeting.

20. BANA Appointments Committee: Tracy Gaines

Tracy will be sending out the appointments form for any committee that will need new members in 2022. She also requested that the board appoint another member to the Appointments Committee.

Tracy explained that committees request new appointments. They can either recommend someone or they can ask the Appointments Committee to look for a suitable candidate. Appointments then go to the board for approval.

Tamara will reach out to a number of board members in the next few days to determine whom to appoint to this committee.


It is helpful to have reminders that the appointments process needs to be in place by August of each year. Tracy noted that the Appointments Committee does not deal with reappointments.

21. General Committee for Review Process: Jennifer Dunnam

Jennifer summarized this report. She stated that we will have to adjust the previously approved workflow because we have three huge documents that are about to go through the review process. For example, the initial copyedit that is normally part of the process will not be feasible. Tamara suggested adding an item to the workflow stating that decisions about the workflow will be made on a case-by-case basis. Mary Nelle explained that if we deviate from the workflow it really affects the Publications Committee. If we don’t follow the workflow we should document the steps we’re going to take. It might be better to wait until we have completed the three documents we have on our collective plate right now (Chemistry, Nemeth and Tactile Graphics). Jennifer, Jen, Mary Nelle and FM will meet next week to discuss the workflow for Chemistry and Nemeth. We also need to document how Tactile Graphics is being reviewed.

The workflow stipulates that after the authoring committee completes the initial manuscript it is turned over to the BANA Chair and the Chair of the Publications Committee. Publications would verify the document for structural integrity and accessibility issues before it goes out for review. This is the part of the process that we aren’t currently following. Given the number of documents we have to manage right now, it may be best to start the review even while Publications is checking the document for structural and accessibility issues. The Nemeth and Chemistry Committees have done a great job of working to meet BANA specifications and we need to continue to support these efforts. The conversations about the Tactile Graphics review began last year. It will be more of a proofread because it will not have conflicts as other documents sometimes do. The goal is to have Tactile Graphics reviewed by October.

We should also discuss how to proceed with the Chess Guidelines, given all of the other work that is currently underway.

MSC: Jennifer moved and FM seconded that the disposition of Charge 353 be changed from TBA to done. Motion carried.

[Charge 353 (5/2/19): Work with the Publications and Tactile Graphics committees to determine the process for the review of the upcoming tactile graphics revision and bring a recommendation to the Fall 2019 meeting.]

MSC: Jennifer moved and FM seconded that the Committee on Review Process be given a charge to document any deviations from the workflow regarding Tactile Graphics, Nemeth and Chemistry, and provide that information to the board. Motion carried.

22. Bylaws Committee: Jennifer Dunnam

Jennifer summarized the report and stated that the Bylaws Committee will be ready to present its proposal by May 21 so that the board has 30 days to review it before the June meeting. The committee will then be able to work on new amendments.

23. International Initiatives

Judy Dixon is a delegate to the World Blind Union (WBU) on June 29-30, where they will reconstitute the World Braille Council (WBC). Judy hopes to involve the WBC in the proposed update to the Music Braille Manual.

Kim Charlson is now the President of the North America/Caribbean Region of the WBU.

Judy provided an update on the eBraille initiative to create navigable BRF files. NLS is trying to determine the format in which EPUB documents should be distributed. There is also the question of how to make existing BRF files more useable and navigable. APH is investigating this as well. The challenge is that although multiple organizations are working on this issue they are going in different directions. It’s possible that BANA and ICEB have a role but we need to find a way to work together. Before we can determine how this will affect transcribers we need an actual proposal on how to move forward. FM noted that BANA had a conversation with Bookshare years ago and that it did make a difference. Sue mentioned the importance of EPUB because of its prevalence in textbooks. BANA and ICEB should be a part of this conversation.

FM raised the issue of the Marrakesh treaty. Individuals must be connected to organizations that have access to published materials in order to benefit from it. The ICEB Executive Committee recently had a discussion about monitoring the results of Marrakesh. To put this another way, there is a question as to who actually has increased access as a direct result of a given country ratifying the treaty. Tamara stated that this will be an ongoing conversation.

24. Secretary's Report: Jen Goulden

Jen confirmed that there is no secretary’s report at this time.

However, Tamara proposed that we vote on the minutes from our April meeting.

MSC: Mary Nelle moved and Tracy seconded that we approve the minutes from our April meeting. Motion carried.

25. Treasurer’s Report: Danette Johnson

Danette summarized the report.

Total Balance 12/31/20: $143,316.69

Restricted Funds for Publications: $22,824.00

Some of the membership dues are still outstanding. Jen asked Danette to put the representative in cc when emailing invoices to our organizations.

MSC: Jennifer moved and Jen seconded that we approve the Treasurer’s report as presented. Motion carried.

26. Certificates of Appreciation: Kim Charlson

There are none at this time and Kim is going to send the board a scan of the certificate to review. We will revisit certificates once Sandy Smith has officially finished her work with the BANA website so that we don’t have to wait until the fall meeting. 

27. Directory Update: Sue Reilly

Sue has been keeping a draft of the directory but she has questions about some of the committees. Tamara will be reaching out to ask board members to serve on various committees (such as the Appointments committee). Once this is done, Sue will be able to update the directory and send it to the board.

28. BANA’s Listservs: Sue Reilly

BANA-announce has too many subscribers for so it will be managed via the platform of our new website. Kim sent out an email to the subscribers on BANA-announce to advise them of the migration and to ask if they wish to remain on the list. Any emails that bounce are removed. Kim will then forward the names to Sue, who will upload them to the new database in MailChimp, within Drupal. When the list has been migrated we can promote it on social media.

Mary Nelle suggested we implement a verification step to confirm that emails sent via BANA-announce are actually getting out to recipients.

29. BANA's Archives: Frances Mary D'Andrea

FM summarized the report. She will print out the packets from the last few meetings, just to maintain hard copy versions of these documents. She will send them to APH when Mike Hudson is ready to receive them, possibly at some point this summer. APH has hard copies of BANA documents, and some electronic materials as well.

FM and Jennifer are the only members of the Archives Committee, so FM asked that another member be appointed. Judy volunteered.

MSC: FM moved and Jennifer seconded that Judy Dixon be appointed to the Archives Committee. Motion carried.

30. Press Releases: Mary Nelle McLennan

It is not feasible to send out press releases until BANA-announce has been migrated.

31. Ad Hoc Committee on Braille Signage and Labeling: Kim Charlson

Kim summarized this report. She is still looking for feedback from the board on the revision of the Creation of Braille Signage document. We will be able to finalize and post it by the fall meeting. Board members should provide feedback by May 31st.

Kim said there seems to be some discussion on various social media platforms on the issue of braille with a capital B. Judy provided some background as to where this is coming from, that it is based on comments from one or two individuals. BANA is not changing its position at this time.

32. Task Force on Outreach Needs: Kim Charlson

Tamara stated that we need to reconstitute the Outreach Committee and appoint a new Chair. She explained that this committee managed exhibits at conferences. Going forward we will determine whether or not to do exhibits on a case-by-case basis. The committee has been divided into sub-groups. One focuses on podcasts and Kim is the lead on this. The other is responsible for exhibits and various outreach activities that enable BANA to connect with stakeholders.

We need to update the information about braille on the BANA website. In addition, the board needs to vote on the dispositions of several of the committee’s charges.

MSC: Judy moved and FM seconded that the disposition of Charge 380 be changed from TBA to done. Motion carried.

[Charge 380 (5/4/20): Take a high-level view of what type of outreach BANA needs and how it should be accomplished.]

A discussion ensued as to whether we should still have an outreach committee at all. FM reminded the board that the main purpose of the committee had originally been about BANA connecting with stakeholders. There was also a suggestion that the committee might want to consider changing name.

Tamara asked Marie if she would be willing to chair this committee and Marie agreed. If a liaison between the Outreach and Publications Committees is needed, Jen can do this because she serves on both.

MSC: Tracy moved and Mary Nelle seconded that we appoint Marie as Chair of the Outreach Committee. Motion carried.

MSC: Judy moved and Mary Nelle seconded that we appoint Amber Pearcy to the Outreach Committee. Motion carried.

MSC: Jen moved and Tina seconded that we replace Jennifer Dunnam with Judy Dixon on the Outreach Committee. Motion carried.

33. Strategic Planning Report: Jen Goulden

There is no report at this time.

34. Ad Hoc Committee on Standardized Tests: Diane Spence

Tamara plans to ask Whitney Gregory if she is still interested in chairing this ad hoc committee. She will also ask if progress has been made on the development of guidelines for standardized tests. The committee was given a charge for this work at the spring 2019 face-to-face meeting.

Tamara will reach out to see if current members are interested in remaining on the committee. She would like to appoint Jackie Sheridan Witterschein and she will also follow up to confirm details of other potential members.

Tamara provided an update on May 7th that she has asked the current members if they are willing to remain on the committee.

MSC: Jen moved and Mary Nelle seconded that we appoint Jackie Sheridan Witterschein to the Ad Hoc Committee on Standardized Tests. Motion carried.

35. Awards Committee: Tamara Rorie

After some discussion we agreed that we should establish an ad hoc committee to handle the 2021 Darleen Bogart Award for Braille Excellence. It should have some members who are not on the BANA Board.

MSC: Jen moved and Mary Nelle seconded that we constitute an ad hoc awards committee for 2021.

MSC: FM moved and Jennifer seconded that FM be appointed as the awards committee Chair. Motion carried.

The ad hoc committee should have three to five members. Anyone who is interested should let Tamara know. Suggestions for members who are not on the board should be sent to her as well.

36. Unfinished/continued business

There was no discussion under this item.

37. New Business

There was no discussion under this item.

38. Upcoming Meetings

There was no discussion under this item.

39. Board Teleconferences

We will continue to meet monthly, and our next meeting will be held on June 21st at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

40. Future BANA meetings:

There was no discussion under this item.

41. Around the Table: Organization Updates (time permitting)

Time did not permit.

42. Adjournment:

Tamara adjourned the meeting at 3:02 p.m. Eastern Time.

Respectfully submitted,

Jen Goulden (Secretary)