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Displaying Braille online

From: Marjolein Katsma <iamback4now@yahoo.com>
Date: Fri, 18 Nov 2005 14:06:45 -0800 (PST)
Message-ID: <20051118220645.4488.qmail@web30013.mail.mud.yahoo.com>
To: "w3c-wai-ig@w3.org" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>

For a (still to be written) blog entry about a visit to an institute
for blind children in Tibet, I prepared a few illustrations by scanning
some objects I brought from there that have both normal text and text
printed in "raised lettering" Braille so it is readable by sighted
persons (who know Braille) as well as well as visually impaired people.
Both versions of the text are in English.

After getting some hints to resources and spending most of the day
reading online and studying fonts - I'm already calling today my
"Braille day" - I managed to finally decipher the Braille on the second
sample (the first was easy enough to deduce without any help).
(More about my roller-coaster self-taught crash course in Braille here:
http://www.desktoppublishingforum.com/bb/showthread.php?t=1555 )

Now, the idea is to add a caption or longdesc to these images to
explain about the Braille in there. How best to tackle this?
- I can spell out the text in ASCII, and even explain about the
contractions used in one of the two samples (I'm not sure whether it's
"grade 2" or "grade 3" or what the difference is though).
- But when I want to how the same text in "simulated braille" text I
have some problems: The user may or may not have a Braille font on
their machine (though I could explain where to get one); more
importantly I found many Braille fonts are inconsistent with respect to
at what code points the non-letter Braille symbols occur, in other
words, actual  Braille characters may be different across fonts for the
same code points. There also is no generic fall-back font face, so I
can specify only specific font names that I know to work with this
particular text. And then what would happen when someone using a screen
reader is reading that ASCII contracted Braille text with Braille
output? Likely the contractions would lead to garbled output because
screen readers expect non-constracted Braille?

Any hints and tips for how to tackle this would be appreciated.

Marjolein Katsma
Travel blog: http://iamback.com/blog/
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Received on Friday, 18 November 2005 22:06:50 UTC

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