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Narrator: In this segment, we will be looking at braille translation software and braille embossers. Braille translation software is a computer program that converts printed text into braille code. A braille embosser is similar to an ink printer in that it embosses or prints the braille onto paper.
Transcribers enter text into a standard word processing program, edit it, and then save it as an electronic file. This file is then opened in the translation software. The translation software can be controlled with either keyboard commands or a mouse. The word processor text can be converted into the braille code and displayed on the computer screen as simulated braille, or 'simbraille' which is a visual representation of embossed braille. Simbraille appears as black dots displayed on the screen in lines. These lines consist of cells that contain combinations of the six dots representing letters, numbers, and punctuation. This display allows sighted transcribers to view the braille before it's embossed onto paper. Once transcribers have proofread the translation and the formatting, they can issue a command that will send the file to the braille embosser to be printed.
Most braille embossers use tractor feed braille paper that is 8 1/2 inches by 11 inches or 11 1/2 inches by 11 inches. Braille embossers usually have a numeric keypad that controls their settings and features. Some embossers only produce single-sided braille pages, while others provide double-sided or interpoint braille.
While this combination of software and hardware can be used by people who are blind, it is most often used by those who transcribe written materials into braille. This technology combination allows braille transcribers to produce larger quantities of braille than they can with a manual braille writer such as the Perkins model. This helps to create a much larger library of materials for braille readers.
There are several braille translation programs available and the most widely used program costs approximately $500.
There are numerous embossers on the market and they range in size from 13.5 by 8 by 5 inches at a weight of 12 lbs, up to 12 by 26 by 18 inches at a weight of 45 lbs. Small-volume braille embossers range in price from $1,800 to $5,000, while large-volume embossers cost between $10,000 and $80,000.