There is lots happening in the NCBI Library and Media centre.
This March brought the beginning of the production of UEB (Braille) at NCBI. In 1991, the Braille Authority of North America (BANA) set up a project with the aim of creating one braille code which could be applied across all subject areas, except for Music Braille, which is already standardised internationally. In 1993, other English-speaking countries became interested in the project and it was internationalised under the auspices of the International Council on English Braille (ICEB). The outcome of this project was “Unified English Braille” (UEB); an English braille code that can be used throughout the English-speaking world.
Lina Kouzi , Manager of the NCBI Library and Media Centre explains, “English is a worldwide language which is constantly evolving, for example numbers and capital letters appear more frequently within words, study materials are more visually diverse and web addresses often occur in news articles and information handouts. Braille is the most commonly used tactile method for representing the written word and must evolve so that it can remain the primary literacy tool for blind people.”
In early 2004, ICEB met and agreed that the Unified English Braille Code was sufficiently complete for recognition as an international standard and advised member countries to adopt it as their national code. Since then, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Nigeria and South Africa have adopted UEB as their braille code. The UK and USA also recently adopted UEB (presently just the literary code had been adopted in the USA). This made Ireland the only English-speaking country which had not yet adopted UEB as its braille code.
As of the 2nd of March 2017, NCBI Library and Media Centre have adopted the new UEB code. This implies that all braille documents and books from that date onwards will be produced using UEB code.
Lina says, “Based on experiences in other countries, new braille learners have had very few problems with the new standard. The differences for the reader are manageable, however; for teachers and producers of braille, there are changes in terms of layout and some contractions. Braille readers who are already familiar with literary braille will have little trouble switching to UEB as there are no new contractions”.
The NCBI Library and Media Centre are always working on new and innovative projects; we are delighted to have worked with O’Brien Press on the production of Fast Forward by Judi Curtin in Braille. Fast Forward by Judi Curtin is the first leisure reading book to be produced by NCBI Library in Unified English. The Braille copies were produced by NCBI Library to promote World Book Day on the 2nd of March. Braille copies will be sent to County Libraries across Ireland during the month of March to highlight the importance of reading in Braille to blind children. Copies will also be available for loan from the NCBI Library.
The Library and Media Centre is an invaluable resource for many of those affected by sight loss. One of the main growth areas in the Library during 2016 was the downloadable audio book service.
In recent years, library services internationally have shifted their focus to the electronic medium. Most libraries for the Blind are introducing a virtual library service where library members download their reading material. This focus is driving a number of older people away from using digital library services, as they may not enjoy listening to audio books on small inaccessible screens such as iPhones or computer tablets. Also, they may not have the computer literacy skills to successfully download their chosen books.
At NCBI Library, we offer a bespoke digital service. Individuals that are unable to download their own audio books, can access this collection too. The library sends clients audio books on USB keys which can be played on a Sovereign player.
The Sovereign Player /Boombox is an accessible MP3 player designed for individuals with a vision impairment.
Lina says, “The Library offers a rich selection of downloadable audio books from their website. These books allow the reader the flexibility to select and listen to their audio books of choice. Readers can listen on their computer, or transfer their audio books to compatible devices 24/7”.
In 2016 the NCBI Library saw a 40% increase in the number of downloadable audio books from its Overdrive site. During that year, the Library issued over 2,740 MP3 book titles on USB key to clients who use the Sovereign Player/Boombox.
Lina explains how access to books is brought to library users without the need of internet access, “Ninety percent of NCBI’s downloadable audio book clients depend on the Library to download their audio books for them, carefully selecting titles from their wish lists and placing them on USB keys. Many of the service users that depend on this service do not have access to the internet, a computer or mobile device, and therefore rely on the NCBI Library to upload and send the titles via the free postal service. This service brings up-to-date digital technologies to the client’s home without the need for digital access”.
For more information on this service, contact the Library on: 01 8642266 or email: Lina.firstname.lastname@example.org
New €50 Note
A new €50 note will be launched at the Central Bank on the 4th of April this year. The new bank note will have short raised lines on the left and right, the main image, the lettering and large value number will also feel thicker. We are currently working on the production of the public information leaflet in accessible formats with the Central Bank. This public will be available from NCBI in accessible formats.