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What does a Braille Transcriber do?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 27 October 2016
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A Braille transcriber makes printed materials accessible for blind and visually impaired persons by transcribing them into Braille. Braille is a writing system which can be utilized by people with visual impairments; instead of reading with the eyes, people read Braille with their fingers, as the writing system is tactile in nature. There are other techniques which can be used to make printed materials accessible to the blind, such as generating audio of the materials so that people can listen to the information.

One of the most common fields in which a Braille transcriber can work is textbook transcription. However, Braille transcribers can also work with other types of written and printed materials. The transcriber's first task is to read the text and take notes about its structure and nature. Any images in the text will need to be described, for example, and if the text has footnotes, sidebars, and other visual ways of presenting information, these must be formatted for Braille users.

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Simply turning text into Braille requires knowledge of the Braille alphabet along with conventions in Braille style and formatting. However, the Braille transcriber also has to think about ways to convey information which is presented visually. For example, a picture or chart will need to be described so that a blind reader understands what is being presented on the page. Likewise, footnotes must be formatted in such a way that blind users understand that they are footnotes and can determine that a text has footnotes with a casual review, just like sighted users do.

When the Braille transcriber is finished, the work needs to be proofread for errors and readability. Braille transcribers must be able to think like visually impaired and blind readers in order to present printed material in a way which will be easy to understand, absorb, and engage with. If the work of a Braille transcriber is faulty, readers can find it frustrating, just as sighted readers get irritated by books with poor formatting or text which is hard to read.

Several organizations train and certify Braille transcribers. These groups provide people with the information they need to transcribe Braille effectively and consistently. Some Braille transcribers work as volunteers who are interested in making printed material accessible, while others may be paid for their work. The demand for transcribers waxes and wanes, and it can be difficult to develop it into a paid career.

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