Braille Transcription Training and Certification Program Information

There are no schools offering training in braille transcription, but students can obtain instructional course materials and study on their own or as part of a group. After completing the program of study, they can take the examination to become nationally certified as a braille transcriber.

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Essential Information

Braille transcription is a niche field, but trained and certified transcribers are increasingly needed as the demand for transcribed materials grows. Anyone interested in this field of study can request free training materials from the National Federation of the Blind (NFB). A high school diploma or GED certificate and proficiency in written communications are required. Students will need to purchase braillewriting equipment.

Students initially study literary braille, and this program takes a little more than a year to complete. Courses cover topics including the operation of several types of braillewriting equipment and computer programs. Students learn the alphabet marks, contractions, rules and formats for literary braille.

After students finish the literary braille training program, they submit their transcription test, and upon passing they are awarded certification and can volunteer their skills or seek employment. They can further their expertise by studying specialty topics such as mathematics and music notation. Jobs can often be found in education, government agencies or organizations for the blind.


Overview of Braille Transcription Training and Certification

The NFB is responsible for providing braille transcription training and scoring certification tests, and the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) awards the certification. Interested individuals first study literary braille transcription, but after they become certified and have gained some work experience they can continue their education in other braille subjects.

The NFB sends all instructional course materials to accepted braille transcription students at no cost, but students do need to provide their own braillewriting equipment. Students may correspond with the NFB or study with a local braille group, and they typically complete the program in 12-18 months.

Upon completing all of the lessons in the training program, students can submit their certification test, which is a 35-page manuscript of transcribed braille, to the NFB. Once they are certified, braillists find work transcribing various types of materials, such as novels, magazines, textbooks, menus, contracts, policies, letters, schedules and instructions.

Education Prerequisites

Braille transcription programs require that applicants have earned a high school diploma or its equivalent. Applicants should be competent in aspects of composition such as spelling, grammar, sentence structure and clarity. There are additional prerequisites for students who are studying topics past the literary braille transcription level.

Course Topics

Literary braille transcription students learn to use a few different types of braillewriting equipment, such as a stylus and slate, Perkins Brailler machine or computer programs. Throughout the training program, students learn how to transcribe words, punctuation marks and special print marks. They are also coached on how to represent pictures, charts and graphs through braille characters. Students in the NFB literary braille training program can complete lessons on their own time or at scheduled sessions with a braille organization. Some of the topics that they study are:

  • Braille alphabet marks
  • Braille contractions and shorthand
  • Literary braille codes and rules
  • Literary braille formats

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

In a braille transcription survey conducted by the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) in October 2000, the number of braille transcribers that the United States needed was expected to increase considerably (www.afb.org ). Some braille transcribers volunteer their services, but they can also find freelance or contract work. In October 2000, salaried certified transcribers earned between $18,000 and $50,000 per year, as reported by the AFB. Braille transcribers may be employment through braille publishing companies, organizations for the blind, school districts, libraries, business, government agencies and personal clients.

Continuing Education

Literary braille transcribers can continue their braille education by studying music notation, Nemeth code mathematics, scientific notation, chemical notation, columns and table code or braille formats. They could also study literary, music or mathematics braille proofreading.

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