[Blindmath] UEB again
a.j.godfrey at massey.ac.nz
Mon Dec 5 00:20:08 CST 2011
I've been watching the flow of messages on the topic with interest.
The last time this thread blew up I went asking questions locally and
found some answers that left me thinking New Zealand was on the right
track. We have the President of the International Council for English
Braille who was my first port of call.
I note that the original intent may have been for UEB to address the
needs of literary, mathematical and computer braille. In that regard
we can say that UEB has failed. Aside from Michael in the U.K. and me
down here in New Zealand, this list is dominated by those of you
living in the lower 48. I am not surprised to see that the other
aspect of unification is somewhat missing from the discussion.
While the differences may seem trivial for the experienced braille
reader, the U.K. and U.S. braille systems were different, and both
are quite readable interchangeably by good braille readers. Literary
braille for the English language should have been (in my opinion)
enough reason to look for a common solution that meets the needs of
the 21st century. I suspect that the UEB system will have a limited
lifetime as well as our needs change.
In New Zealand we were very quick to adopt UEB as we are taking
documents from all over the English speaking world for our students
to use. It is therefore quite logical for us (and Australia, South
Africa and Nigeria) to adopt a unified system of some sort to cut
down the inefficiencies that exist outside the U.S. or U.K. who are
notably the last two major English speaking authorities to join the UEB craze.
Turning to mathematical content now. I find that the most compelling
reason for not being reliant on UEB is the comment made by someone in
the last flurry of messages that there were university level
mathematical representations that UEB could not handle. This does not
mean UEB should be tossed out. It means UEB's mathematical code is
not capable of dealing with some content, but it isn't capable of
handling French or Spanish either. A mathematical document is
therefore little different to a bilingual document in that the reader
must know more than just the basic English system (whichever one is
chosen) to get the most out of it. I will in the next few months want
to be increasing my competency in computer braille. UEB won't be the
medium of my education for that even if it is the official code in New Zealand.
I believe that the UEB code should be adopted, but that it is done so
without replacing all other codes. We must still deal with the
preferences of those people who have been educated using other
systems. If effort is made in the technology that will produce the
braille wanted by the reader instead of the braille wanted by some
publisher or authority we will all be better off.
As a further comment, I would point out that the mathematical codes
used around the world were/are more numerous than the literary ones.
Australia used to teach a system that was linked to the British
system but was different (or so I have been led to believe), while we
here in New Zealand were always Nemith users. The uptake of UEB and
its simple mathematical system has been hailed for improving the
educational outcomes of young blind kids across Australasia. That's
got to be appreciated even by the Nemith fans. But it isn't reason
for tossing out Nemith.
When I was in Europe this year, I met people who were reading
numerous braille codes as they worked in multiple languages. The more
they could read the more successful they would be. One guy laughed at
the idiocy of the mono linguists that were complaining about change.
(His words paraphrased). I can't help but agree.
Dr A. Jonathan R. Godfrey
Lecturer in Statistics
Institute of Fundamental Sciences
Office: Science Tower B Room 3.15
Phone: +64-6-356 9099 ext 7705
Home Address: 22 Bond St, Palm. Nth.
Home Phone: +64-6-353 2224 (Just think FLEABAG)
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