open forum on braille, how to make it and how to get it

From: John Miller (
Date: Tue Jul 30 1996 - 09:17:59 PDT

I use braille every day in my work at Qualcomm.
Most of it is braille that only I will read.
Sometimes, like the Science Division agenda, it is braille formatted
for a larger audience. I am collecting a grab bag of ideas for how
to make all this brailling easier.

There is no doubt about it printing print is easier than printing
braille. For example, when I want to print a directory of
computer code in Unix, I give a script command and the code has line
numbers, a running head, and page numbers.
To print the directory in braille, it takes a number of commands.
First I filter the programs to add line numbers, then I run a filter
to add the name of the program and braille format codes to the actual
file, then I FTP all the files to my DOS machine where I run my
favorite braille translator and print the files. How
can I get the same bang for my buck as a sighted guy - one command one
print job? I've got the unix side figured out, but print
spooling a job to DOS where a braille translator does automatic
translation and sends the job to an embosser is a little tricky.

A few months ago I needed the hard copy braille for Analog
Devices ADSP 2181 assembly coding manual for my fixed-point project
at Qualcomm. My team lead gave me the print manual. It told
me where the companies web site was. There I found the text in HTML
using Adobe Acrobat for the MAC. I could download the whole thing
page by page to ASCII text. I limped along with a few chapters
until Finally I got the source text from
Analog Devices a month later. There's a lot of documentation
out there in HTML. How can I get the next one in good formatted
braille without any fuss?

Finally, most things I write are for my sighted team members.
Good print format doesn't read that well in braille. And getting
software in good print format can be a real pain. One of my
group's coding standards is that all comments end on character 67.
If the comment ends on character 40, the line should
be padded with spaces and the end comment character should be placed
in character 67. This is something my fellow team members do
without thinking about it, but it is very time-consuming as a blind person.
It's important because right justified comments look good.
I found it better to write solid code ignoring this standard and
fix the spacing at the end. I took two hours and now have a program
that cleans up the spacing automatically.
The point is that visually-oriented formats aren't easy to work in,
but usally the final version needs to be in a visually-oriented format.

I am very interested in taking a look at braille and how the blind
use it in a professional setting or at school. Any ideas on how I can
make braille with less fuss? What is your experience?

John Miller
Member, National Federation of the Blind
Phone: (619) 658-2689

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