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Braille Transcriber: Job Description, Salary and Requirements

For blind and low vision readers, the job of the braille transcriber is invaluable and there is a shortage of braille transcribers in most states. For the student interested in ensuring literacy for everyone, employment as a braille transcriber might be a good choice.

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Job Description of a Braille Transcriber

The job of a braille transcriber is to translate printed text into braille for blind and low-vision readers. Whether transcribing novels, textbooks, or other documents, braille transcribers are responsible for conveying the information accurately. Therefore, they must ensure that they capture the nuances, subtleties, or similar elements of the written word. There are several different categories of braille transcription, including literary transcription, mathematical and music transcription, and proofreading for braille.

Salary of a Braille Transcriber

Braille transcribers generally fall into two categories: those who work in a braille production company and those who work freelance on a contract basis. According to a 2000 survey by the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB), the annual salary of a braille transcriber in a braille production or publishing company ranged from $18,000 to $50,000, depending on the company. Contract braille transcribers made between $.25 and $5.00 per page, or $8.00-35.00 per hour, according to the same survey (www.afb.org). According to the AFB, there is a significant need for braille transcribers.

The organization Braille Through Remote Learning indicated that for freelance braille transcribers, payment is received on a 'per page' basis, commonly resulting in annual wages ranging from $15,000 to $45,000. Those braillists who transcribe medical and mathematical content may charge more per page.

Requirements of a Braille Transcriber

Coursework and Certification

Braille transcribers can earn certification from the Library of Congress' National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. This process includes passing a free literary braille transcription course, which can be taken online, in classes, or through correspondence. In order to take the course and to become a braille transcriber, students need braille paper and either a braillewriter, a 40-cell desk slate or a computer with a six-key direct input software program.

After completion of the course, students must submit a 35-page transcription. After six months of working as a transcriber, students may continue on to take courses in braille proofreading or braille transcription for math or music.

Other Requirements

Braille transcribers must have a good command of the written language and the ability to proofread and edit. They must be extremely careful and consistent. They must possess considerable knowledge of grammar, spelling, and formatting. In addition, their familiarity with literary braille code, as well as with the rules of braille coding, is extremely important.

Braille transcribers must also possess knowledge of braille software and formatting. It also helps if the transcriber is dedicated to serving the vision-impaired population, possesses deductive reasoning skills and is able to pay attention to detail.

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