Parents Can Now Learn ABCs of UEB

Editor’s note; we bring you more resources for the topic of the transition into UEB.
By Sheryl Bass, The Hadley School for the Blind

An exciting new introductory braille instructional course has just become available through the Family Education Program at The Hadley School for the Blind entitled Introduction to Braille, UEB Edition. The Hadley School for the Blind is the largest provider of distance education for people who are blind and visually impaired worldwide. Beginning in 2016, new braille materials will be produced in Unified English Braille (UEB) throughout the United States. This course provides the tools for those interested in learning to read and write braille so they can communicate with family members and loved ones who use braille. It presents fundamentals of the new braille code, including the letters of the alphabet, numbers and punctuation. The goal of this course is to enable parents and loved ones to read and write uncontracted UEB. A follow up course will be available soon for those interested in going on to learn contracted braille.

Since January 2015, Hadley has been offering a “Transitioning to Unified English Braille” course. This advanced course is designed for individuals who already know contracted braille. It provides a structured approach to learning the differences between EBAE (English Braille American Edition) and UEB. Prerequisites for the course include strong contracted reading and writing skills in EBAE or SEB (Standard English Braille). More than 2,000 students (most of whom are teachers of students who are blind) have already completed this wildly popular course.

The good news is UEB courses offered through the Family Education Program are free to parents and other eligible family members!

Toutle, WA resident, Donna McNew is the parent of a child who is blind. Donna is also this year’s winner of Hadley Robert J. Winn Family Education Award. Family is Donna’s primary focus in life and she is a homeschool educator for her children. Her family looks a little different from that of a more traditional model. First, it includes dairy goats, ducks, chickens, honey bees, dogs and cats. Second, it includes four now adult children, ages 40, 30 and two in their early 20s as well as their children. And third, it now also includes three additional special needs children whom she and her husband adopted from China in 2008-2011. Interestingly, her adopted children are all within months of the ages of her biological grandchildren.

One of these adopted children, 10-year-old Adelyn Rose, is blind. However, it was long before Adelyn arrived that Donna actually completed her first Hadley braille course. Therefore, she already had the necessary prerequisites to take Hadley’s more advanced “Transitioning to Unified English Braille” course. Donna was a very enthusiastic student. She said, “I couldn’t get enough of it fast enough – to the point where I completed and submitted three or four lessons in one week. My instructor had to have been tearing her hair out – she kindly suggested that I slow down a bit!”

Adelyn shadowed Donna throughout her completion of the course, and mother and daughter learned together. Adelyn actually knew UEB before her teacher of the visually impaired learned it and has even been able to teach her some of the code changes—thanks to Hadley.

Parents, loved ones, educators and children who are blind and over age 14 can register for a Hadley braille course by visiting or calling 800-323-4238.