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What Is Unified English Braille?

What Is Unified English Braille? Will It Replace Grade 2 Braille?

Unified English Braille (UEB) is not a new Braille language, and it is not actually replacing the widely used standard Grade 2 Braille. The purpose of Unified English Braille is in its name: To Unify English Braille used in various countries, states, and regions in one standard. Hence, Unified English Braille!

So yes, Unified English Braille is different from Grade 2 Braille, but not that much. UEB is the evolving standard for Grade 2 Braille. We will get there someday, but we are not there yet. Currently there are slight difference in Grade 2 Braille conventions in different countries. Australia can be different from Belize, Ireland from Canada. However, going forward more and more countries and American states will begin to require ADA signage be compliant with UEB. Some states have already begun making the change. (Looking at you, Massachusetts!)

ADA Sign Depot has invested in software to allow us to make ADA compliant signage using either the current standard Grade 2 Braille, or the evolving standard of Unified English Braille. 

While our stock ADA signs and our standard ordered custom ADA signs are made using a fully ADA compliant Grade 2 Braille, if you want ADA signs made using Unified English braille, just let us know when ordering.

ADA Sign Depot can make your custom ADA signs with Unified English Braille. There is no extra charge for this service. Simply let us know that you want the ADA tactile braille signs on your order to be made with braille that is compliant with UEB standards. Need braille labels with Unified English braille? We can do that, as well as our Grade 2 Braille labels. When you place your order on our website, include instructions in the job comments area that you want UEB braille. Or, after placing your custom ADA sign order on our website, immediately email your instruction "use UEB/Unified English Braille" to us:

Moving to the Unified English Braille system for ADA signage is not a big change, and certainly not a problem for us at ADA Sign Depot. Here's an example: The word "address" rendered in Grade 2 Braille would use a contraction for the two consecutive d letters. In Unified English Braille, the contraction (using one braille cell for both d letters) would not be allowed. Now, if you were reading a book in braille, this could be a big change. But in signage, where wording is as brief and direct as possible for maximum communication, a few additional braille cells will not make a big difference.

From Wikipedia:

Unified English Braille Code (UEBC, formerly UBC, now usually simply UEB) is an English language Braille code standard, developed to permit representing the wide variety of literary and technical material in use in the English-speaking world today, in uniform fashion. Unified English Braille is intended to develop one set of rules, the same everywhere in the world, which could be applied across various types of English-language material. 

State Plans for the Implementation of UEB

The following states have supplied their respective state plans for the implementation of UEB:

What Is Braille?

Braille is a system that enables blind and visually impaired people to read and write through touch. It was devised by Louis Braille in 1821 and consists of raised dots arranged in "cells." A cell is made up of six dots that fit under the fingertips, arranged in two columns of three dots each. Each cell represents a letter, a word, a combination of letters, a numeral or a punctuation mark. Download the PDF: Braille Basics

What Are the Rules of Unified English Braille?

Download the PDF: Rules of Unified English Braille

What Are the Symbols of Unified English Braille?

Download the PDF: Unified English Braille Symbols and Indicators

Where Can I See Changes in UEB vs. Literary Braille?

Download the PDF: Overview of Changes From Current Literary Braille to Unified English Braille (UEB)

Looking for a comprehensive resource on Unified English Braille (UEB)? Seek no further than BANA, the Braille Authority of North America

The Evolution of Braille, An Article from the Braille Authority of North America

Braille itself has been instrumental in making possible the integration of blind people into society, and, in turn, this increased integration has driven
developments in the use and production of braille. The more integrated that blind people have become, the greater are the demands placed on sources of literacy. Are the literacy tools keeping up?

The purpose of this article is to illuminate the changes in the way braille has been produced and used over the past 50 years and to discuss some of the reasons for and impact of these changes. Clearly there are a number of overarching and complex issues that influence the teaching, learning, and use of braille—teacher shortages, teacher competency, service delivery methods for braille learners, the role of braille in employment, and more. However, this article will focus on the evolution of the communication methods used by braille readers; it will also look at other evolutions that have occurred such as how blind children are educated, the range of available technologies, and the evolution of braille and print.

This article is divided into three parts. Part 1 traces the use of braille as a viable
reading medium from the 1960s to the present and takes a close look at how
print has changed over the same period.

Part 2 discusses the more technical
aspects of braille translation, challenges faced by current transcribers of current
codes, the need for accurate forward and backward translation with the least
amount of human intervention, and the impact of the use of refreshable braille

Part 3 discusses the future; it explores the options for change and
examines Unified English Braille (UEB) and the Nemeth Uniform Braille System
(NUBS) as examples of code unification.

First, however, it may be helpful to provide an answer to a frequently asked question: "Print does not change; numbers are numbers, parentheses stay the same, a dollar sign means dollars. So why all this tinkering with our braille?"

Let's take a quick tour of the relevant changes that have occurred in print during the last 50 years.

Download a PDF of the full article, The Evolution of Braille: Can the Past Help Plan the Future?