Unified English Braille (UEB)
Unified English Braille is a new braille code designed by the International Council on English Braille to provide a single code that can be used for literary and technical materials throughout the English-speaking world.
On 2 April 2004 the Third ICEB General Assembly gave the green light for Unified English Braille, resolving that the code was sufficiently complete for recognition as an international standard for English-language Braille that may now be considered by member countries for possible adoption as their national braille code.
UEB has been adopted by these countries:
- Australia, UEB adoption May 2005 (doc 20 kb)
- Canada, UEB adoption April 2010
- New Zealand, UEB adoption November 2005
- Nigeria, UEB adoption February 2005 (doc 24 kb)
- South Africa, UEB adoption May 2004 (doc 19 kb)
The Braille Authority of the United Kingdom (BAUK) will consider the adoption of UEB in 2013.
The Braille Authority of North America (BANA) has BANA has not formally considered the adoption of UEB in the US but it is monitoring the results of the introduction of UEB in other countries.
Reasons for Australia's adoption of UEB
Background information regarding Australia's decision to adopt UEB background is given in Bill Jolley's February 2004 paper, Braille Codes in Australia (doc 25 kb), which is an update of his April 2003 paper Braille Codes at the Cross Roads.
An article published in the Journal of Vision Impairment and Blindness by the ABA's Bill Jolley describes Australia's implementation of UEB (doc 32 kb) as of September 2005.
The Rules of Unified English Braille
The Rules of Unified English Braille (commonly known as the UEB Rulebook) was published by the Round Table, in collaboration with the International Council on English Braille, in June 2010. It is the key reference text containing all of the rules of Unified English Braille with examples and further references. Print and braille versions of the Rulebook may be downloaded from the ICEB website.
The next edition of the Rulebook will include a new appendix listing all UEB symbols and three additional sections covering Code Switching; Scansion, Stress and Tone; and Line Mode. It will be released by December 2010.
UEB Australian Training Manual (2013)
The Unified English Braille Australian Training Manual is a series of lessons and practice exercises by which teachers, transcribers and parents can learn UEB.
ABA Launches The UEB Rulebook June 2010
In Sydney Australia, on 5 June 2010 in association with the Annual General Meeting of the Australian Braille Authority, the Rules of Unified English Braille (commonly known as The UEB Rulebook) was launched.
In her Foreword to the UEB Rulebook, Darleen Bogart, Chair of the UEB Project Committee 1991-2010 wrote: "It has been an incredible journey! one that began in 1991 when the Braille Authority of North America (BANA) embarked on a research project to determine the feasibility of unifying its literary and technical codes. In 1993 the internationalisation of the project became a reality when the International Council on English Braille (ICEB) accepted the BANA proposal at its first Executive meeting in Sydney, Australia …"
"Unified English Braille (UEB) was adopted as Australia's official braille code on May 14 2005 during the Annual Meeting of the Australian Braille Authority (ABA). At that time, there were few teaching and learning resources available for UEB and although the UEB Primer developed by Josie Howse 2006 continues to be invaluable for anyone learning the basics of UEB, there was clearly a need for an authoritative and complete elaboration of the rules of the new code that could be used by braille educators, producers and readers …" wrote Bruce Maguire in his Rulebook preface.
Edited by Christine Simpson and published in Australia by the Round Table on Information Access for People with Print Disabilities Inc, The UEB Rulebook represents almost 20 years of international collaboration, commitment, and debate, amongst some very dedicated braille experts from each of the ICEB member countries – Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Nigeria, South Africa, United Kingdom and the United States. We were fortunate to have Mary Schnackenberg, Chair of the ICEB amongst our guests. Mary addressed the audience, giving some background to the project and indicating how pleased the ICEB was to see their longstanding project have such a positive outcome.
In launching the Rules of Unified English Braille, Maryanne Diamond, President of the World Blind Union, spoke of the importance of braille in her life, in her home, her local community involvements, her employment and in her role as WBU president.
In addressing the audience, Christine Simpson gratefully acknowledged the support of Project sponsors, thanking them for their commitment. She thanked members of the Project Steering Committee – lead by Bruce Maguire, for the guidance and advice given to her. She thanked those who had assisted with proofreading, layout advice, and composition of the many examples. Christine particularly acknowledged the support and guidance given to her by Phyllis Landon – Chair of the UEB Rules Committee.
Christine spoke of some of the challenges that she, as a totally blind editor, had experienced in editing a publication which was to be produced simultaneously in both print and braille; one which would need regular updating and one which required such careful use of various print fonts, styles and other visual characteristics. She stated "its production provided me with an amazing challenge, my attention to detail was really tested, my Microsoft Word sills have greatly improved and my ability to think braille and print layouts at the same time was most important."
The official version of the Rules of Unified English Braille is held as a PDF file on the ICEB website. Print and braille versions of the Rulebook may be downloaded from there (just follow the links from home page).
More Flickr photos from the UEB launch can be viewed online.
Further UEB resources
The Australian Braille Authority recommends the following tools to assist in the learning, teaching and transcribing Unified English Braille:
- UEB in a nutshell (pdf 41 kb) gives a simple explanation of why UEB has been adopted in Australia and how it differs from our previous braille code
- UEB symbols list gives the most commonly used new symbols in UEB, sorted according to subject area. It is also available in braille.
- UEB Duxbury instructions (doc 71 kb) gives practical advice on how to transcribe UEB using Duxbury 10.6 and 10.7, and is accompanied by the Duxbury UEB 107 template (dxb 3 kb)
International Council on English Braille
Australia is a member of the International Council on English Braille (ICEB). The purpose of ICEB is to coordinate and improve Braille standards for the benefit of all English-speaking users of Braille.
The members of ICEB are the various countries where English-language Braille is widely used. ICEB has seven members: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Nigeria, South Africa, United Kingdom and United States of America.
The Fourth ICEB General Assembly was held in Melbourne, Australia, in the April 2008. Australia's delegation, appointed by the Australian Braille Authority, consisted of Bruce Maguire, Josie Howse, Bill Jolley and Christine Simpson. A number of Australian observers also attended. The resolutions from the 4th General Assembly (doc 38 kb) are now available.
The Third ICEB General Assembly was held in Toronto from 28 March to 2 April 2004. The General Assembly adopted resolutions concerning Unified English Braille and other matters.