Sarah Hazelwood

Unified English Braille comes to HomeServe

During the birth month of Louis Braille; the man who invented braille, we remember his amazing work.

Louise Braille made it possible for blind and visually impaired people to read and write for themselves, with independence and freedom. Braille symbols are formed within units of space known as Braille cells. Each cell consists of six raised dots, arranged in two parallel vertical rows – with three dots in each. Braille isn’t a language, it’s a code by which all languages may be written and read.

Over the years this code has undergone continuous modification and has become an effective means for people to achieve and enhance their literacy skills.

A unified code for everyone

In 2015 Unified English Braille (UEB) was introduced in the UK, in a bid to bring several existing English-speaking Braille codes together. All Braille production was finally transferred across to UEB, and from 1st April 2016 we'll be adopting this here at HomeServe to help make our Customers' lives easier.

The UK Association for Accessible Formats (UKAAF), which sets the standards for the industry, decided back in 2011 that UEB should be the UK’s official Braille code. As a result, it has already been rolled-out in many major English-speaking countries around the world.

Why is it changing?

Braille authorities across the English-speaking world decided to look at the code and see how it could be improved. They have spent many years developing it, with the aim to unify countries and technical subjects too.

There are many advantages of implementing UEB. Firstly, they wanted to bring different literary, technical and language codes into one single comprehensive code. This means things like numbers, which are currently written in three different ways, will be simplified.

UEB will make learning Braille easier, because students will no longer have to understand new codes for subjects like Maths and Science. In turn this will improve the reliability of print to Braille transition, which will be hugely beneficial to those in education.

UEB also means that countries, which over the years have gradually developed their own ‘flavour’ or Braille, will actually be able to share resources. This will dramatically reduce how much is spent and all the focus will be on maintaining this one code around the globe.

Here’s to the future

Due to the increase and prominence of technology in our everyday lives, there is a growing debate about the relevancy of Braille. It can convert text to speech and this has been identified as a huge factor in the decline of Braille users over the past few decades.

However, more than 150 million people around the world continue to use Braille today. And, thanks to UEB countries have come together for the first time ever to use a single common standard that will hopefully continue to make Braille relevant for many years to come.