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Transcription software can’t do it all: Even Braille 2000 doesn’t have every possibility

Hello folks,

While we’re still in beta in Braille 2000 before the 2.275 release, I’m now on assignment number 15. While I have seen the concepts in my daily reading, I’m still studying it thoroughly before I take the RTF representation made for me and have it transcribed. Here are some things I do not believe any transcription software can do:

  • Transcriber-defined segments, I.E. words, passages, and the like
  • Passage transcriber defined material
  • Small caps, I.E. the instructions say that words are smaller than the other words, I.E. Star-Spangled Banner in one of the drills, the words are small caps minus the first letter
  • Displayed Material by default unless its shaped or percent coded I.E. 5-3 paragraphs or 3-3 blocked material.

While the file i’ve gotten was shapped and percent coded, there are still some aspects I need to correct. Braille Translation software, including Braille 2000, should take the font attributes I.E. bold, italics, underline, and script, and take the appropriate symbols which would include passage appropriately. The lesson stresses that we should always check to make sure that it does this correctly. This is going to be fun, as now is the heart of what we’re going to learn from now on. Formatting, some foreign language, transcriber specific stuff, including pages, title pages, table of contents, and more.

Braille 2000 may be upgraded to assist in transcriber defined material, but it is not available as of yet. This way, the blind transcriber can be put in word or wordpad where it may be more accessible for them to work. I’m not sure about any other software and how it works with this type of thing, please comment here and let me know. I’d love to have a discussion about this new UEB concept, and how others do it.

I’m putting this in the Braille 2000 category for convenience, but this also implies other software as well and how they work and how you deal with such things.

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Braille 2000 has interesting childrens program, made accessible

Hi all,

A lot of people who use Braille 2000 know that there is a nice little program called the Childrens Grade Relaxer. It is known as simply “the grade relaxer” and its job is to uncontract a document in a way where it is appropriate for children to read it. When I got Braille 2000 version 2.273, this portion of the software was not accessible to the blind instructor or braillist. Now, in 2.274, it is. When 2.275 is released, the dialogue which was accessible hasn’t changed much at all, but now, we’ll have spoken feedback on the aspects of “can read” “can’t read” and partial. Partial is actually called mixed.

The colors of the dialogue are green for can, red for can’t, and the node of the tree being yellow for a mix case of green and read within it. Also, we can now press the space bar to toggle a node, or specific options for yes or no. This is another reason why I love Braille 2000, the dedication of Bob is paramount to have the best software that can be produced.

Here is how it works. Lets say you have a child or adult named John. The first thing you’ll do is make a profile named John. It comes with one profile which is default which is everything read. The dialogue won’t be described here, but you’re able to adjust the profile in a dialogue that says you can’t read any grade 2, to a mix bag of can and can’t read based on the child’s progression. The dialogue will also have options to relax the running heads. It also has an option to create the job as a new work area, which is recommended, and whether or not you want the file double spaced or not. Within each profile, you can select whether or not the child or adult understands single spaced material or not. If not, it becomes double spaced.

There is also an option to say yes or no each and every change, I would recommend this to be off, so it does the work for you. In a future version, the yes no will be removed, as it proves to not be useful. It may have been useful in a prior version, but it may not be useful today.

Since this tool has been in braille 2000 from the beginning of brraille 2000, and it could be very valuable based on lesson material being taught, I could see the blind instructor producing material once in RTF, format it using percent codes or shape paragraphs, and have a profile set for each child entering the class. The profile is like an account, where each child or adult has their own account, and you adjust that account based on their reading capabilities. Once they master everything, then they can use the default profile which is set to read everything single spaced. The possibilities are endless.

Note that double spaced work takes twice as much room, so my 5 page letter turned in to 9 pages, when just applying the doublespace. Single spaced uncontracted for that same letter for assignment 13 was 6 pages. Braille 2000 knows and understands this fact, and formats it correctly.

If you have any questions comments or concerns, please contact Bob or myself.

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A 2.274 update with lots of changes

Hi all,

I’ve been through some updates of Braille 2000 lately, and want to highlight some of the changes made.

  • There was a table fix which I’ve not experienced, where the table went over to a second page and didn’t work correctly.
  • Another beta tester requested knowing what was being read when read to end is envoked.
  • We’ve got in one version highlighting on by default, which caused double reading in JFW.
  • We compromised to have scrolling with no highlighting by default, so an options dialogue box was created as part of the speech settings. By default, Braille 2000 will scroll the screen as it reads, and the cursor will be where it is reading at the top of each paragraph.
  • I had some confusion over changing the setting to braille view and it telling me the change. It does this when info messages are on. It works as described. You can also intarigate the document data option to get the information an as needed basis. This may cause double reading in Jaws and NVDA, I’m not sure why.
  • There is an option to get document information such as the file name, path of the file, and the page size. The page size deals with how many cells per line, and how many lines the page is.
  • We’ve also fine tuned the reading where the document reading process tells you you’ve reached the end, as well as telling you in a blank document that the document is empty.

    The issues where reading line, paragraph, field, etc. all report if there is content, or not.

    The next project for Braille 2000 as a whole is to work on full math support. Bob indicates that this needs an overhall, and honestly, its not accessible to the blind as of yet. There is a full panel of stuff that the sighted transcriber can utalize to get proper braille. While I’ve typed up assignment 14, aspects of the course material needed to be in sim braille. Sim braille, (otherwise known as simulated braille) is basically braille dots on the page, but yet, we enter this data using ascii characters such as a for 1 when followed by the number sign or the number character in print. Braille 2000 properly lets us know the dot patterns of the simulated braille during reading of lines, paragraphs, or read to end. This has been working now for a few versions of the 2.274 beta cycle.

    If you have any comments, or find a bug during the beta process contact Braille 2000 so they may investigate. We look forward to getting the next release out to the public very soon. I think we’re getting very close. Math is the biggest thing now, and hopefully it’ll develop in to something very useful very soon.

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    Braille 2000 is getting closer: still a bit of work to do

    Well, it is time to do another write up of the Braille 2000 beta testing process. For the most part, things are getting in to shape. There are a few things, one of them I’ve questioned, and it was fixed, as well as some loose ends.

    • When Braille 2000 was launched with the latest release, it did not tell you that it was launching by telling you the program, version number, and the fact it was the talking edition. I would personally feel better hearing it twice, as each screen reader is different on how that initial screen is interacted with. We’re reverting this change to do that, as now it does it when announcements for info messages is checked in the speech settings.
    • When I turned on info messages, it told me the version info as well as that the file was open. While I liked that idea, I honestly don’t need to know if a file is open successfully, and I can get that feedback by asking JFW or NVDA for that matter to read the title bar. I can also query the current line I’m on with the on demand speaking if I really want to know.
    • We’ve added the mute option instead of speak nothing. for the voice nothing option. When activated, Braille 2000 will not speak, but it will also say mute on. When Braille 2000 launches, it’ll tell you that speech is muted. To not speak unless you want it to for on demand or otherwise, uncheck all options in the speech settings.

    Question: right now, if there is no file open, querying line, paragraph, or read to end has no speech, should it say file is blank, blank, leave it at nothing? If you’re on a blank line with a file open, JFW at least will read the file name to you, but the on demand speaking says nothing. I will be running this by Bob for the thoughts on how we should andle this if you are one that relies on the full on demand speaking of the talking edition.

    We’re also adding the capability of reading field data while in a table using Braille 2000. Telling the field data while using the arrow keys should yield in a future release if it doesn’t work already, should stay silent when in the same field. When it changes, it’ll tell you. Right now, I can’t get this to work, but the option for field is in the menus for tell, so I’ll also run this by Bob.

    Is there anything else that you think we’re missing? Have you tested the beta? Please advise me on what else you’d like to see.

    contacting us

    To get your copy of the BETA., please contact Braille 2000 and contact me through my web site if you have any questions, comments, or concerns.

    Bob and I would like to thank every one of you for your interest in our project. We hope to have this out of beta really soon.

    The Braille 2000 team

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    Braille 2000 V2.274 take 2: we’re getting better

    Hello everyone, welcome to another edition of the blog, this time, a much improved Braille 2000. NVDA users, you’ll be in luck, I think we’ve got the speech the way i think we need it. You can turn on telling options to read lines, paragraphs, etc. and they actually do as they’re supposed to do. For you as an NVDA user, I could say that you can do some editing with the speech controls, I.E. in braille view, removing characters if you make a mistake, but this is done with the constant press of arrow keys. I’ve successfully looked at a lot of the issues I’ve reported, and it is working pretty well.

    One thing that we’re adding, is speed braille keys accessibility whereby if you didn’t have the pause key, we now can have our own key which is alt+x to stop the recording process. I’ve set up three of them, one to read the paragraph, one to tell me the line, page, and cell positioning of the file, and one just for the line.

    Jaws and NVDA give different results when going through the speed braille keys setup process. Jaws will read the field in which you are to define the key, I.E. f1. NVDA will read the entire dialogue box. NVDA also reads the entire edit box for describing the macro, and the box that tells you you’re ready to go. JFW seems to have mixed results, only fully reading the ready to record dialogue box itself. NVDA and JFW somewhat read the final box by itself, although once you tab to the radio buttons that ask for file or system specific, NVDA will read the accompanying text, whereby JFW reads only the radio buttons.

    The way this dialogue is configured, according to Bob, is a set of static text, with the controls for the key to be used, description, and the like. He did a cursory lookup on why static text wasn’t reading, and things came up that he’s not too clear on, although I did tell him about the third dialogue being a read only whereby, I was using my arrow keys to read the text.

    By default, speech will tell you the version of braille 2000 is running, and then it won’t talk without you asking it to. You can change this in the speech voice submenu portion of the program. You can also adjust some main settings in speech, engine settings, or adjust speech. If you turn on telling for example, it’ll tell you that its on, and its settings are used, i.e. word, paragraph, cell, and even where am I settings can be set. This is a big step forward and definitely a welcome change.

    One of the bugs I’ve experienced is also fixed, where it didn’t maximize itself by default. The program definitely does a lot better maximized, and I’m glad Bob was able to fix this, as we need the window maximized by default to get the best value.

    I am confident that the speech component as an assistant will be valuable no matter what reader you use. For example, the read command will act like the read to end options in both screen readers. By default, it uses the SAPI voices installed on your computer. I’ve got the two that comes with windows 10, but you may have others that are available to you. The new speech settings dialogue box has a multitude of options to set what you want speaking, the voice, and even the speed.

    One of the highlights which I just tested deal with the speaking of keyboard events. In 6 key entry, Bob has given it the treatment of inside information. If you hit 5-6, it says its a grade 1 indicator. It won’t do back translation in this mode, just what you type. I could see that very valuable when using 6 key entry.

    The speech does not read simulated braille, generated from wordpad or another program that you need to use to simulate braille. Simulated braille was used heavily for assignment 14, which isn’t even ready yet. It was typed out, but a lot still needs to be done before I can see a first draft to determine if I’ve done it correctly. That is because I used the RTF importer which can import simulated braille, but no screen reader can read it because it only appears in the text. It won’t even read it in braille view either, but I’m sure that can be worked on. A hardcopy or BRF may need to be gotten to get this to work for now. I’m not overly concerned about it for the moment, the speech options are working for straight text, and math improvements are coming soon.

    If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please contact Bob (Robert) Stepp through the braille 2000 web site. You can learn more about Braille 2000, download a demo of the 2.273 release, read the literature, a guide for how to get braille 2000 to work in full screen mode, and more. To contact me, please use my web site. and select the contact and bug reporting form.

    I’m sure when 2.275 is released, we’ll have a great release for all! Thanks for reading!

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    Self voicing prototype take 1 for braille 2000 beta 2.274

    This is only opinion and not necessarily the opinions of Braille 2000 staff.

    Braille 2000 is a braille transcription software used in many different places. While the goal of braille 2000 is to not be self voicing, but to be a full piece of software for all, it lacks some accessibility in regards to key components of braille transcription.

    • It laks a clear capability to allow a blind transcriber to get coordinates of a braille document where the cursor is
    • It lacks the capability to read in grade 2 as Jaws reads in ASCII equivelants like it would in note pad
    • Braille 2000 lacks the capability to work with NVDA, another screen reader
    • Both NVDA and JFW will read the menu system, although there are some aspects of the menus where even Jaws has issues

    There are probably more, but now, with the assistance of the self voicing aspect, we can be more independent.

    • There is a speech menu that can be accessed by keyboard command that can give you some very extensive commands to utalize the on demand speech, or the as needed speech.
    • Some of the commands can have Braille 2000 read to you while you use your arrow keys by word, character, dot patterns, and the like.
    • I’ve tested it in limited form with Braille 2000’s Bob Step and it does work as advertised. There are some issues, but for the most part it works.

    Version 1 of the speech interface speaks each and every menu item by default. This could be confusing to JFW users where JFW will read these menus and most dialogues without a problem. The Self Voicing on first testing reads controls of dialogue boxes, but doesn’t read most of those items. While I’ve not played with NVDA very extensively in menus and the like, NVDA does read menu items and I believe it runs through most of the dialogues that I’ve encountered without a problem. Further testing needs to be done.

    Braille 2000’s speech interface can be accessed without the speech menu with a hotkey. The hotkey initiates the sequence, and with control held down, other letter sequences design it to do specific tasks as discussed in the first list. My impression has already been mentioned to Bob, but I found the cross keyboard work a little tricky. For Example, ctrl+q to initiate, plus t, plus l will have it read the current line as you wish. This is just an example of what it can do.

    Here’s what I’d like to see. I’d like to see, and have already voiced, the opportunity to have it not read menu items, unless its switched on. While it is handy, the screen reader can do that, but if it gets stuck, the option should be available for you.

    Also, in this release of the 2.274 beta, were some translation issues and other under the hood improvements.

    As I continue to test, I will provide updates when I can on my initial impressions.

    One serious bug was the fact that braille 2000 forgot my settings completely. In earlier builds, it wasn’t remembering the license info, but this time, it reverted settings altogether. Certain settings need to be turned off within the display dialogue for it to better work with access technology. It turned those back on, as well as forgetting that it needs to be maximized as that option in the system menu is disabled or what Jaws says is unavailable.

    Again, these are initial impressions, and the work is not finished yet. I’m hopeful we can have a co-existing self voicing option for braille 2000 for those who would rather utalize it instead of, or if they don’t have, a screen reader. This is going to be fun.

    Have thoughts or would like to talk to me about my work with Braille 2000? Get in touch, I’d love to hear from you. I can be reached at tech at menvi.org and other information can be found on the info you need page on the blog.

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    Braille 2000 beta now out

    Hi all,

    Braille 2000 is now in beta. It is not widely available, however, it can be retrieved. For instructions on how to get the beta, please contact me or Braille 2000 directly.

    The beta does introduce some new features, fix bugs, and as far as braille 200 is concerned, stable.

    As with any beta software, it could have some side effects, and could have effects you’re not expecting. The next release will hopefully be sometime this month, if all goes well.

    Remember to report bugs directly to Bob, as he’s the person who codes the software. I can assist with the accessibility side and getting it installed.

    The beta will install over the current released version.

    I’m looking forward in having fun. Thanks for reading!

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