New Braille Certification in the New Year

As you’ve likely heard, next Jan. 4 will mark the transition day for the U.S. from Literary Braille to Unified English Braille. As such, we’ve begun preparing the certification exam that will replace the National Certification in Literary Braille (NCLB). As you might have guessed, the new exam will be called the National Certification in Unified English Braille (NCUEB).

At the end of this year, we (the National Blindness Professional Certification Board) will no longer offer the NCLB exam. Your last opportunity to take that test will be in late December in Northern Louisiana. However, we will continue to honor your NCLB credentials until the date listed on your certificate.

I’ve had several people call to ask me: “Should I get certified now or should I wait?” The quick answer I will continue to give is this: well, that depends on what you want.

If you want to showcase that you are competent in both Literary and Unified English Braille and are not currently certified, you need to take the NCLB exam before the end of this year. That will be the only way to be dual-certified. And, yes, you will need to pay the test fee twice (i.e. once for each exam). There is going to be a great deal of Literary Braille in circulation…all of those books aren’t going away overnight.

If, on the other hand, you only want one credential, it’s up to you which test to take. If you are more confident in Literary Braille or are anxious about the looming changes, take the NCLB exam now. If you want to demonstrate that you know UEB very well, then wait.

The NCUEB will be unique because it will be one, national standard that you either pass or fail. By passing, we are certifying that you have the minimal competency in Unified English Braille. If you fail, remember—just like the NCLB—we aren’t saying that you don’t know braille…we’re just saying that you didn’t pass the exam.

Note, too, that We don’t determine how others will interpret the certification. We just give you the stamp of approval that you’ve met the minimum standard. Some school districts require that their teachers of blind students have a certification in braille. However, this is not a license to teach; it’s merely a certification. So, there won’t be one thing that you’ll all of a sudden be able to do when you pass this exam.

Here are the details about the NCUEB exam:

  • The certification will be for anyone providing direct services to blind children or adults (e.g. paraprofessionals, teachers, and rehabilitation counselors, to name a few).
  • The exam has been reduced from six hours to four hours, and will only contain the following sections:
    • Braille Writing: transcribe a passage from print (or un-contracted braille) into UEB
    • Proofreading: identify embedded errors
    • Multiple Choice: answer questions about correct braille usage and rules
  • Tests will be held in Ruston once per month and can be held at other locations if there’s demand.

We will have practice materials available in about a month or so, including a self-assessment that will give you an idea of what to expect on test day.

At this time, no NCUEB exam dates have been set. Keep an eye on this blog and the National Blindness Professional Certification Board website for details as they are announced.

What questions do you have about the transition to UEB? What have you found to be most helpful in preparing for the new code?

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Maria coordinates the braille certification programs for the National Blindness Professional Certification Board.

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