A braille transcriber determines how to most accurately present information from a print textbook into a braille version and then transcribes it into braille so that a student who is blind or has low vision gets the same benefits from the information as his or her sighted peers.
In addition to deductive reasoning, transcribers must have specialized computer skills to effectively transcribe a textbook into braille. They must be fluent in the English Literary Braille Code, be knowledgeable in the use of braille translation software, be able to import publishers' electronic files, and be knowledgeable in formatting principles from Braille Authority of North America (BANA). Braille Formats: Principles of Print to Braille Transcription (1997). Louisville, KY: American Printing House for the Blind.
Up until now, braille transcribers have been trained and certified through a self-study correspondence course through The Library of Congress, National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS). Braille transcribers have a tremendous impact on the education of blind and low-vision students. Transcribers allow blind and low-vision students to be on equal footing in the classroom. They provide them with the same information that their sighted peers receive, but in the format they need. Braille textbook transcribers play an important role in helping students achieve their goals both now in their education and in their future endeavors.
There is a significant shortage of braille transcribers throughout the country. Because of this shortage, blind and visually impaired schoolchildren go weeks and sometimes months without the textbooks that their sighted peers have for their core or elective classes. This significant shortage of braille transcribers impacts the college-bound students too. It is estimated that the United States needs 380 full time transcribers now, will need 735 additional transcribers in five years, and 1,020 additional transcribers in ten years.