Welcome to Northern Michigan Braille
At Northern Michigan Braille we specialize in the production of technical Braille, such as chemistry, science, and mathematics textbooks, adhering to the requirements of UEB with encapsulated Nemeth.
All diagrams, graphs, and other illustrations which convey information to the student are reproduced accurately using the collage and line style of producing tactile graphics.
We produce full braille textbooks as well as partial and course materials for educators.
About the founder
Started by Jonathan Powers, Northern Michigan Braille is his next step in increasing Northern Michigan's ability to produce quality Braille for educators and agencies. Hoping to eventually grow his Braille production to a greater size through the hiring and training of additional Braillists, the name was chosen for his love of Northern Michigan, but NMB produces Braille for both the US and Canada.
Jonathan got his start as a Braille Transcriber when working for Nicholas Harrier at Pinpoint Braille in 2009. After working with Nick for several years, he's been producing Braille on his own ever since, transcribing all types of text books, but mostly specializing in technical texts such as Chemistry and Mathematics textbooks.
His lovely wife Cecilia has now taken over the making the Tactile Graphics for the textbooks and does a wonderfull job.
About our production methods
We have pioneered a streamlined process for production, which involved the use of Finereader 14 for the OCR, MS Word 2010 with Visual Basic for Applications for the text editor and Nemeth parser, and Braille2000 as our Braille output software.
An important step in the process for us is putting a little more time into the OCR step. In Finereader, we can individually select all the math, greek, and other language symbols that appear in a transcription by defining a custom language. These symbols will then very reliably be recognized and will come through as the correct unicode characters in the text document.
It is also important when saving the OCR into a text document to change Finereader's "Exact Image" to "Formatted Text", otherwise the text will be in text boxes rather than a free flowing document.
Once we have a word document containing the text, we are able to utilize Microsoft's Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) editor to format the document and automate many of the changes we would otherwise have to do manually, one at a time, in Braille2000.
Check out the Word section in the Resources page for some refernce documents I use for Word VBA.
We have also written a program in VBA that translates the Nemeth equations for us, which is why it is so important to get the math symbols in OCR. All we then do is highlight the equation in Word, press a single key, and it is transcribed into Nemeth (with or without switch indicators - there is a separate button for each). This macro leaves the Nemeth in the "Braille from Braile2000" font which copies correctly into Braille2000 as simbraille. So most of our Nemeth is (mostly) automatically generated, while as far as we know other transcribers input it all manually.
Tactile Graphics are produced by hand using a combination of the line and collage styles, which we believe produces the best quality with the widest variance of tactile feedback, while also preserving the dimensions of the original graphic. (We zone the graphics as well as the text in FR14, and then resize them in MS Word before producing them, so the proportions are exactly reproduced.) A picture of a graphic that has been reproduced using this method is visible in the background of this website.
Below is a screen capture showing on the left encapsulated Nemeth and prepared text ready to be copied in to Braille2000. The Nemeth was prepared using the Visual Basic code (a small bit of it is shown) on the right.
Finereader 14 has the best OCR that we've found so far. It is able to detect most of the mathematical elements in a textbook, such as special symbols, superscripts, and subscripts (yes, even the radical!). These are then converted to their appropriate Nemeth symbols when each equation is analysed and converted using the code we've written in VBA for MS Word. This allows us to convert most equations to encapsulated Nemeth (switch indicators and all) with a single keystroke.
I'd be interested in what other transcribers think of these methods, so if any come across this, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About this website
This website is a work in progress, and I am leaning as I go, thanks to the excellent information at codecademy.com and w3schools.com. If you have any suggestions, please contact me at email@example.com.
2022: This is all a bit outdated! I first made this site over 5 years ago now and it's time for an update! I finally just got a security certificate for it (using certbot couldn't have been easier, although I did have to install snap for the tutorial I followed), so now you have a secure HTTPS connection! I'll have to work on this more soon.
Northern Michigan Braille transcription is into UEB with encapsulated Nemeth.
All Braille is produced according to the 2016 Formats, and mathematical formulas are transcribed according to The Nemeth Braille Code for Mathematics and Science Notation, 1972 Revision, including the 2007-2015 updates and the Guidance for Transcription Using the Nemeth Code within UEB Context.
Chemical notation and formulas are transcribed according to the Braille Code for Chemical Notation 1997.
Tactile graphics are produced according to the Guidelines and Standards for Tactile Graphics, 2010.
See the Resources section of this website to view these code books.
Word VBA Reference docs
- Microsoft Beefs Up VBScript with Regular Expressions
- Find and Replace using wildcards
- Finding and replacing characters using wildcards
In order to use the methods in the below link you must (in the VBA editor) enable Tools > References > Microsoft VBScript Regular Expressions 5.5
The next two links are helpful references for using Word's built in search and replace.
You may right-click and select "save target as" to save these PDF's to your computer, or left-click to view them in your browser.
- Rules of Unified English Braille 2013
- The Nemeth Braille Code for Mathematics and Science Notation 1972 Revision
- Guidance for Transcription Using the Nemeth Code within UEB Contexts (2018)
- Graphing Calculator Guidelines
- Braille Code for Chemical Notation 1997
- Braille Formats Principles of Print-to-Braille Transcription, 2016
- Guidelines and Standards for Tactile Graphics, 2010
- Music Braille Code 1997
- 2007 Nemeth 2007 update
- 2007 Nemeth 2007 update corrected edition of December 15, 2007
- 2007 Clarification Addendum
- 2010 Letter/number or Number/letter abbreviations
- 2010 Celsius, Fahrenheit, Kelvin - New rule
- 2011 Rule XXV §191a(v) and §191b(vi) Use of blank line before directions
- 2011 Tables and Keying §187
- 2011 Replacement §187
- 2012 Rule XXV, sec 191: Wording change for list format
- 2013 Orientation 4c: Spacing of copyright, trademark, and registered symbols
- 2013 Rule XIV §86c: Short form of directly under
- 2014 Orientation §4c: Notice of the use of Tactile Graphics Guidelines 2010
- 2014 Rule IV §26: Use of ELI in uncontracted braille
- 2014 Rule XVII §119: Spacing with function names
- 2014 Rule XIX §134: Use of multipurpose indicators with operation signs
- 2014 Rule XXII §162: Per mille symbol
- 2014 Rule XXIV §184: Numeric indicator with enlarged grouping signs
- 2015 Rule VIII §54: Spacing for abbreviations within cancellation indicators
- The above updates in a .Zip file