Future Reflections Spring/Summer 1994, Vol. 13 No. 2



Editor's Note: The following press release was issued by the National Library Service on January 7, 1994. It was later published in the March, 1994, Braille Monitor. This test marks an important milestone in the campaign to promote Braille literacy. We applaud the blindness field's commitment to devising a fair and impartial way of demonstrating the Braille reading and writing skills of those licensed as teachers of blind children. Here is the release:

On January 7, 1994, the National Literary Braille Competency Test was released for use by all interested parties.

The test is intended primarily for teachers of children and adults. It is designed to allow candidates to demonstrate a basic competency in literary Braille. The test is composed of three parts: part one, writing skills, asks the candidate to transcribe materials using a slate and a Braille writer; part two, reading skills, requires the candidate to identify errors in a brief Braille selection; and part three, multiple choice, presents the candidate with twenty-five questions on the literary Braille code.

Since January, 1943, the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), Library of Congress, has been responsible for the development of training materials and certification programs for Braille transcribers and proofreaders. These programs were designed for the certification of volunteers producing Braille texts for educational and leisure reading.

For some time educators and consumer groups have been concerned about the quality and quantity of Braille instruction that blind children are receiving in school. In 1989 the Committee on Joint Organizational Effort asked the Library of Congress to explore the feasibility of creating a national certification program in Braille for teachers.

The Library, of course, readily agreed; and our Braille Development Section immediately began the planning process. An advisory committee composed of educators, rehabilitation teachers, transcribers, and consumers was established to study the feasibility of developing a test of Braille competency for teachers. This committee recommended that NLS develop certification tests in the primary Braille codes for teachers.

In 1991 an editorial committee was formed to advise on the development of the test. They developed guidelines for:

The trial test was sent to the editorial committee in the spring of 1992. Ten reviewers in the United States and Canada evaluated the test. After the test and instructions were revised, the peer review took place during the summer of 1992. Forty-five people in fifteen states and Canada, who had been recommended or had expressed interest, were sent copies of the test. Again revisions were made. In 1993 four forms of the final test were developed and made ready for use.

Concurrent with its release, the National Literary Braille Competency Test is undergoing a process of validation. Until the formalities of this process have been completed, all of those who ask to take the test will be informed of the pending validation.

The National Literary Braille Competency Test has been developed with every possible consideration for test content and testing rigor. NLS staff will carefully monitor its use in the field and stand ready to make whatever modifications and accommodations are necessary in order to facilitate the achievement of stated goals.

For further information contact Frank Kurt Cylke, Director, National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Library of Congress, 1291 Taylor Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20542; or call (202) 707-5104 or fax (202) 707-0712.