A few weeks ago, we hosted another workshop about the changeover from Literary Braille to Unified English Braille (UEB) here in Ruston. Whereas so much of the conversation about the coming changeover to UEB here in the U.S. is characterized by frustration, fear, and nervousness, the tone of our event was calm all around.
Most of the UEB training and explanatory materials on the market is written in sym-braille (a visual font) or print PDFs. Even the BANA and ICEB manuals are done in print. I’d like to focus upon what I see as a lesson for those who will offer UEB workshops in the coming months.
Most braille training sessions (especially those offering CEUs) are conducted by sighted people for sighted teachers. I venture to guess that most outfits around the country doing the UEB workshops now are targeting only teachers of the visually impaired and hence have not made their materials available to blind participants. I can’t say that definitively, but the only handouts and announcements that I’ve seen have been developed with a sighted teacher in mind.
Because we advertised our workshop for teachers of blind students, vocational rehabilitation counselors and teachers, as well as consumers, we spent a lot of time converting the actual training materials into braille so the blind participants could benefit. We made a very concerted effort to have all materials available in braille and print formats. This, in my opinion, made for an interesting, effective, and inclusive workshop.
Credit for all of this goes not to me, but to our fantastic facilitators Laura Bostick, NCLB; Maria Morais, NCUEB Coordinator; and Casey Robertson, NCLB, who are both teachers of blind students and instructors here at Louisiana Tech.
The feedback that we received said that both presenters were positive, well-informed and used a good bit of humor to keep it interesting and light. Two participants who came down from Oklahoma were shocked at how funny, lighthearted, and yet informative the session was. What can I say? We in Louisiana try to make things fun and interesting…for that’s exactly how we know young students learn best!
The next UEB workshop will be in Orlando, FL on July 1, as part of the National Federation of the Blind convention. We stand ready to bring this session to your agency, school division, rehabilitation center, or team. Please give us a call at (318) 257-4554 for more information.
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