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SensusAccess can transcribe documents into Braille according to a number of (national) Braille systems and contraction levels. Furthermore, SensusAccess can format and paginate Braille, and deliver the resulting files as either portable Braille or Braille encoded for a particular Braille device or Braille character set. 

Transcribed documents can subsequently be embossed on a Braille embosser, displayed on a Braille display connected to a computer or smartphone, or loaded on to a Braille notetaker.

When using SensusAccess to transcribe documents into Braille, users need to specify the Braille system to be used, the contraction level in case multiple levels are supported, and how the final Braille should be delivered.

The Braille transcription features of SensusAccess are further explained in Module 9 of the SensusAccess e-learning course (opens new page).

Braille system

SensusAccess supports a number of Braille systems, including Unified English Braille (UEB), the pre-UEB Braille codes of North America (BANA) and the United Kingdom, the unified German Braille code, as well as the Braille systems of Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, and Spain.

Contraction level

The contraction level specifies whether the document should be transcribed into uncontracted (Grade 1) or contracted Braille (Grade 2). While some Braille systems only use or only has support for uncontracted Braille, others support multiple levels of contraction. In some cases, it is also possible to specify whether the Braille should be transcribed into (traditional) six-dot Braille or into (computer-oriented) eight-dot Braille.

Target format

The target format defines the formatting and encoding of the final Braille document. The document may be formatted according to paper size and preferences regarding Braille pagination. Some target formats also support duplex embossing. Finally, document may be encoded specifically for the Braille device where it is going to be rendered or using standardised encoding.

Popular target formats include the following:

  • Portable Embosser Format (PEF). This is a standardised, portable Braille format that supports rendering on a wide variety of Braille devices. The format also supports formatting to fit a particular paper sizes, as well as optional pagination and duplex embossing. PEF target formats start with pef on the list. Open-source software is required to manage the Braille documents in PEF format on embossers. Details on this can be found in the Software and Tools part of the Resource section.
  • Unicode. This is a standardised format that uses the section set aside in the Unicode specification for Braille (hexadecomal 0x2800 to 0x28FF). The output can be rendered directly on devices supporting Unicode Braille. Furthermore, it can be used directly as visual Braille in ordinary documents supporting Unicode, e.g., most recent word processors. Unicode target formats start with unicode on the list.
  • UTF8. This is another standardised format that uses a variety of Unicode. UTF8 can be used similar to Unicode; furthermore, UTF8 is gaining acceptance amongst Braille notetakers. UTF8 target formats start with utf8 on the list.
  • NACB. North American Computer Braille or just Computer Braille is an older encoding format that is widely supported by Braille devices such as embossers, displays and notetakers. North American Computer Braille target formats start with nacb on the list.

Specifying formatting options uses the following schema: formatCCLLpd with CC being the numbers of characters per line, LL being the number of lines per page, p optionally requesting Braille pagination and d optionally requesting duplex embossing, e.g., embossing on both sides of the paper. Hence, the format pef4025pd would specify the target format to be the Portable Embosser Format formatted to 40 characters per line and 25 lines per page with Braille page numbers and requested duplex embossing. Similarly, unicode3228p translates into the target format being Unicode formatted to 32 characters per line and 28 lines per page with Braille page numbers.