Passed by the Braille Authority of North America
on November 2, 2012
In 1991, it was brought to the attention of the Braille Authority of North America (BANA) that there seemed to be a steady erosion in braille usage, by both children and adults. Among the reasons cited was the complexity and disarray of the braille code. The BANA board decided that an overhaul was needed.
BANA began the process of developing a unified code for English Braille. In 1993, code development was internationalized and taken on by the International Council on English Braille (ICEB). Throughout the next decade, evaluations were conducted, seminars and conferences took place, and numerous articles were published both in the United States and in the other English-speaking countries working on code development.
In 2004, ICEB determined that Unified English Braille (UEB) was sufficiently developed to warrant adoption by its member countries. At that time, BANA decided to observe its implementation in countries adopting UEB and would monitor progress.
During the ensuing years, it has become increasingly apparent that although the accurate, automated conversion of print to braille (forward translation) and from braille to print (back translation) is possible, inconsistencies within the current braille code, as well as changing print conventions not effectively addressed in the current literary braille code, serve as significant roadblocks to translation.
In addition, the potential for the integration of braille into education and everyday life is now greater than ever because of the proliferation of computers and mobile devices that can generate braille; and the ability of a braille user to write in braille for instant communication and collaboration with non-braille readers is becoming ever more essential in our digital age.
UEB has been developed with input from many people with the intention of achieving an optimal balance among many factors, including keeping the general-purpose literary code as its basis, enabling braille to convey the same information as print, allowing for the addition of new symbols not currently available in literary braille, providing flexibility to change as print changes, reducing the complexity of rules, and allowing greater accuracy in back translation.
Specialized braille codes such as those used for music, the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), and mathematics have continued to be of use and enjoy wide acceptance among their users because of their suitability for their intended specific purposes. The most prevalently-used of these, the Nemeth Code, a braille code for mathematics and science notation, has been widely recognized as a powerful and efficient system for representing these subject areas in braille.
Therefore, it is moved that the Braille Authority of North America (BANA) adopts Unified English Braille to replace the current English Braille American Edition in the United States while maintaining the Nemeth Code for Mathematics and Science Notation, 1972 Revision; the Music Braille Code 1997; and the IPA Braille Code, 2008. The official braille codes for the United States will be Unified English Braille, Nemeth Code for Mathematics and Science Notation, 1972 Revision and published updates; Music Braille Code, 1997; and The IPA Braille Code, 2008;
And, that the Guidelines and Standards for Tactile Graphics 2010 and Braille Formats: Principles of Print-to-Braille Transcription 2011 continue to be used in the United States as well as other relevant guidelines developed for specialized and uniquely-formatted materials;
And, that BANA will immediately embark on implementation by developing a preliminary transition timetable and by forming a group of related committees composed of stakeholders from the consumer, educational, and transcription and production communities. These committees will be charged with helping to plan in their respective areas for the development of training materials and for other relevant aspects of the transition. These plans will take into consideration all aspects of creating, teaching, learning, and using braille in a wide variety of settings.