Braille educators across the world can now access tangible evidence of their braille knowledge and skills, with the launch of new competency exams for people who support children and young people who read using braille.
The competency exams are available through UEB Online, an, accessible online braille training program, developed by NextSense.
UEB (United English Braille) Online was developed in 2013 to address three global challenges identified by the World Blind Union—the chronic shortage of teachers qualified to teach braille, the high cost of braille equipment, and the lack of teacher training programs that include braille.
NextSense Institute lecturer Dr Frances Gentle AO says the new competency exams are a great addition to the UEB tool and exactly what educators around the world have wanted—evidence of braille competency to show employers. The exams are also available to parents of children who are blind and use braille.
‘The new online certification option is so important because it means the 32,000 UEB Online subscribers can demonstrate competency in Unified English Braille (UEB) literacy and introductory mathematics. This means that teachers of braille will now have tangible evidence of their braille knowledge and skills, which will help them meet employer requirements or advance their career,’ Frances says.
— Dr Frances Gentle AO
It’s thanks to the generosity of donors The Fleming Foundation and Ian Sharp, who provided new funding for the initiative, that we’ve been able to prioritise this important work of developing rigorous assessment of UEB knowledge.
‘We’re delighted to further our commitment to promoting the right to braille literacy for children and adults in all regions of the world who are blind, have low vision, or are deafblind.,’ Frances says.
UEB Online subscribers come from more than 156 countries. The online nature of the braille exams provides a pathway for governments and service providers to determine the braille competency of educators and other professionals, through systematic instruction and accreditation*.
Round Table brings accessibility experts together
The competency exams were launched at the annual gathering of professionals involved in information access for children and adults who cannot readily access standard print—the Round Table on Information Access for People with Print Disabilities.
Round Table President and NextSense Accessibility and Inclusion Manager Sonali Marathe says the event, held in Sydney, brought national and international experts together to move the needle on better accessibility for people who are blind or have low vision. The themes covered technology, education and accessible publishing.
— Sonali Marathe
Whilst we’ve seen advances in accessibility worldwide, there’s still a long way to go, but by working together and sharing knowledge, we’re committed to better accessibility for people with print disabilities.
We heard from Monash University researchers leading an ARC Linkage Project in partnership with the Round Table, NextSense and other sector leaders, to uncover the latest evidence of the efficacy of 3D printing for touch readers and best practice within the sector.’
International researchers and accessibility experts spoke about the power of artificial intelligence and its benefits for people with a print disability. Presenters also shared the latest methodologies, such as a toolkit for accessible circuit making to improve participation in technology design, sonification—or representing visual information in sound and new technologies for creating accessible graphics.
‘We continue to push further and partner with others to improve outcomes for people who are blind or have low vision,’ Sonali says.
* UEB Online is free to access. There is a $70AU fee to access the competency exams.