Literary Braille Transcribing

Course Information

About the course
Eligibility requirements
Equipment required
How the course works
Certification test
How to enroll
Instructional manuals
Contact information

About the course

Under a contract with the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Library of Congress (NLS), the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute offers a course in literary braille transcribing to teach students to transcribe print materials into braille. It is not appropriate for learning braille as a personal reading and writing skill. Students receive a Library of Congress certificate in literary braille transcribing upon successful completion of the course. This certificate qualifies the recipient to transcribe general literary materials and is a prerequisite for other transcribing and proofreading courses. New transcribers are encouraged to gain experience with braille formats for textbooks and technical materials by working with local transcribing groups. After six months' experience, a literary braille transcriber may enroll in a course in mathematics braille transcribing, music braille transcribing, or proofreading. A background in math is helpful in transcribing mathematics. In-depth knowledge of print music is a prerequisite for the course in music braille transcribing.

There is no tuition charge. Necessary instructional materials may be downloaded free from the NFB Jernigan Institute. Materials include the course instruction manual, a copy of The Rules of Unified English Braille Second Edition 2013, and Drills Reproduced in Braille. These materials can also be provided in hard copy upon request. Students who withdraw from the course are required to return any hard copy materials.

Eligibility requirements

  • United States citizenship or residency
  • High school diploma or equivalent

Equipment required

A manual braillewriter or a computer with a six-key direct input software program (translation software may NOT be used). See enclosed materials for information about computer programs. 

Use of a 40-cell slate is also permissible. Some sources of manual braillewriters and slates include:

National Federation of the Blind, Independence Market 
200 East Wells Street
      at Jernigan Place
Baltimore, MD 21230

American Printing House for the Blind
1839 Frankfort Avenue
Louisville, KY 40206

Howe Press
Watertown, MA 02472

Braille paper (11 x 11 ½ inches, for those not submitting exercises via email). Some sources are:

National Federation of the Blind, Independence Market
200 East Wells Street
      at Jernigan Place
Baltimore, MD 21230

American Printing House for the Blind
1839 Frankfort Avenue
Louisville, KY 40206

Howe Press
Watertown, MA 02472

Star Continuous Cards
32 Bacton Hill Road
Frazer, PA 19355-1026

How the course works

Instructional materials are downloaded from the NFB Jernigan Institute. Students can take the course through a locally sponsored braille class or through correspondence from the Jernigan Institute. Local classes are conducted by experienced transcribers who hold Library of Congress certification in literary braille. Often local sponsors of braille classes provide writing equipment and paper. For information about local groups that sponsor braille classes, consult the Library of Congress directory Sources of Custom-Produced Books or call NLS at 800-424-8567.

The course includes lessons covering the braille alphabet, braille contractions, and rules for writing braille. Lessons describe the elements of the braille system, give examples, and provide practice drills. At the end of each lesson is an exercise with sentences or short passages testing comprehension and reviewing concepts and rules from earlier lessons. These exercises will be evaluated by local class instructors, or, if studying by correspondence, by the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute.

Exercises may be submitted in either hard-copy braille or electronic format. The trial manuscript must be submitted in hard-copy braille. Thermoform copies are not acceptable. Computer programs using six-key direct entry may be used in preparing the manuscript.

Instructors will prepare written reports pointing out any errors and citing sections of the instruction manual that should be studied again. If, in the judgment of the instructor, there are too many errors, students will be asked to resubmit the exercise.  Students are given three chances to submit an acceptable exercise.

Certification test

The final exercise of the course is a transcription of thirty-five braille pages of material, chosen by the students, usually a portion of a book.  Students who prepare manuscripts using a computer must separate and collate the pages.  Whether studying with a local class or taking the course by correspondence, students will submit the final manuscript along with the print text to the NFB Jernigan Institute for scoring the manuscript.  Candidates scoring 80 points or above will receive the Library of Congress certificate in literary braille transcribing.  Students have three opportunities to submit an acceptable trial manuscript.

Students are encouraged to submit exercises on a regular basis (at least monthly) and to submit only one lesson at a time. Students' names will be removed from the program's active file if they are not heard from for twelve months. The course takes approximately twelve to eighteen months to complete, including the trial manuscript.

How to enroll

Applicants can enroll in the course in two ways.

  •  Mail a complete print application (Word doc) to:
            The National Federation of the Blind
            Braille Certification Training Program
            200 East Wells Street
                  at Jernigan Place
            Baltimore, MD 21230

Whether intending to take the course with a local teacher or through correspondence, prospective students must submit this application form before the course begins.

Instructional Manuals

Necessary instructional materials include the course instruction manual, a copy of The Rules of Unified English Braille, Second Edition 2013, and Drills Reproduced in Braille. These manuals are available for download below, and hard copy formats are available to students upon request. Students who withdraw from the course are required to return the hard copy materials.

Instruction Manual for Braille Transcribing – UEB Edition, 2015

Instruction Manual, UEB Edition 2015 (PDF)

Revision Log of PDF Uploads (File Uploaded May 28)

Introductory Material - PDF (File Uploaded May 28)
Lesson 1 - PDF (File Uploaded Aprill 2)
Lesson 2 - PDF (File Uploaded April 14)
Lesson 3 - PDF (File Uploaded February 23)
Lesson 4 - PDF (File Uploaded February 9)
Lesson 5 - PDF (File Uploaded April 14)
Lesson 6 - PDF (File Uploaded March 13)
Lesson 7 - PDF (File Uploaded April 15)
Lesson 8 - PDF (File Uploaded April 28)
Lesson 9 - PDF (File Uploaded February 9)
Lesson 10 - PDF (File Uploaded February 16)
Lesson 11 - PDF (File Uploaded March 12)
Lesson 12 - PDF (File Uploaded April 14)
Lesson 13 - PDF (File Uploaded April 28)
Lesson 14 - PDF (File Uploaded May 28)
Lesson 15 - PDF (File Uploaded April 28)
Lesson 16 - PDF (File Uploaded June 29)
Lesson 17 - PDF (available soon)
Lesson 18 - PDF (available soon)
Lesson 19 - PDF (available soon)
Lesson 20 - PDF (available soon)

Appendices - PDF (available soon)

Appendix A - PDF (File Uploaded May 28)

Instruction Manual, UEB Edition 2015 (Braille Ready Files, page size 25 lines by 40 cells)

Revision Log of BRF Uploads (File Uploaded May 28)

Introductory Material - BRF (File Uploaded May 28)
Lesson 1 - BRF (File Uploaded April 2)
Lesson 2 - BRF (File Uploaded April 14)
Lesson 3 - BRF (File Uploaded February 23)
Lesson 4 - BRF (File Uploaded February 6)
Lesson 5 - BRF (File Uploaded April 14)
Lesson 6 - BRF (File Uploaded March 13)
Lesson 7 - BRF (File Uploaded April 22)
Lesson 8 - BRF (File Uploaded May 28)
Lesson 9 - BRF (File Uploaded February 9)
Lesson 10 - BRF (File Uploaded February 16)
Lesson 11 - BRF (File Uploaded February 16)
Lesson 12 - BRF (File Uploaded April 22)
Lesson 13 - BRF (File Uploaded April 22)
Lesson 14 - BRF (File Uploaded May 28)
Lesson 15 - BRF (File Uploaded April 22)
Lesson 16 - BRF (File Uploaded June 29)
Lesson 17 - BRF (available soon)
Lesson 18 - BRF (available soon)
Lesson 19 - BRF (available soon)
Lesson 20 - BRF (available soon)
Appendices - BRF (available soon)

Drills Reproduced in Braille – UEB Edition 2015

UEB Edition Drills for lessons 1-16 (PDF version) (File Uploaded June 30)
UEB Edition Drills for lessons 1-16 (Braille-ready format, page size 25 lines by 40 cells) (File Uploaded June 30)

UEB Rulebook

The Rules of Unified English Braille, Second Edition 2013 (PDF)
The Rules of Unified English Braille, Second Edition 2013 (Braille-ready format, page size 25 lines by 30 cells)

The following materials are intended only for use by students who are finishing their coursework under the materials used prior to the 2015 revision:

6th Edition - Instructional Manual for Braille Transcribing

6th Edition Complete Manual (PDF) - Divided into Chapters (Zip File)
6th Edition Complete Manual (Microsoft Word) - Divided into Chapters (Zip File)
6th Edition Braille-ready manual, transcribed by American Printing House for the Blind (Zip file)

Drills Reproduced in Braille - 6th Edition

6th Edition Drills (PDF version)
6th Edition Drills (Braille-ready version)

English Braille, American Edition, 2002 Revision and Updates

EBAE (PDF version, zip file)
EBAE (Braille-ready version)
BANA Braille Codes Update 2007

For more information

Contact Jennifer Dunnam, Manager of Braille Programs
National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute
Phone: (612) 767-5658
Email: transcribers@nfb.org

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