Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is BrailleBlaster™?

BrailleBlaster is a braille transcription program developed by the American Printing House for the Blind to help transcribers provide students who are blind with braille textbooks on the first day of class. It can be used by anyone, from NLS-certified transcribers to more casual users.

How much does it cost?

It’s free! As a service to the field of blindness, APH is offering this powerful, yet easy-to-use, software free-of-charge. Download now at brailleblaster.org!

What kinds of braille documents can I make with BrailleBlaster?

You can make worksheets, reading lists, word lists, to-do lists, tables, study sheets, short stories, poetry, line-numbered prose, and just about anything else you, your child, or your student need to learn!

Is BrailleBlaster easy to use?

Yes, BrailleBlaster is designed to be easy to use. If you understand how to use a word processor, like MS Word®, you can use BrailleBlaster to make braille! You can also utilize the many tools, styles, and automation processes to get good braille done quickly.

Is BrailleBlaster accessible?

Yes, BrailleBlaster is accessible to users who are blind or visually impaired. It works with screen readers like JAWS and NVDA on Windows, as well as VoiceOver on Mac OS. It also works well with screen magnification software.

What kind of computer do I need?

BrailleBlaster works on a Mac® or Windows® computer. It also works with Linux.

How do I create braille after I translate a file?

BrailleBlaster can send documents to a braille embosser directly or it can also save your document as a BRF for sharing online or for use with a braille display.

What braille codes does it support?

Currently BrailleBlaster supports Unified English Braille (UEB); UEB plus Nemeth Code for Mathematics; English Braille, American Edition (EBAE); U.S. Spanish; and Cherokee. It also offers uncontracted versions of any code that normally has contractions, such as UEB and EBAE.

Does BrailleBlaster support other languages?

Not yet, but we are currently working on making it easy for anyone to localize BrailleBlaster into the language of their choice.

My document is in UEB, can BrailleBlaster translate it into EBAE?

If your document is saved as a BrailleBlaster document (.BBX), BrailleBlaster can translate it into any other available code. Note that it cannot retranslate .BRF files.

Does BrailleBlaster support six-key entry?

Yes, but it is not recommended because you lose some of the dynamic abilities that make BrailleBlaster so great. However, if your translation requires six-key entry, it is available.

Does BrailleBlaster support math?

Yes! BrailleBlaster offers multiple methods for adding math to any document. You can use six-key entry, if you prefer. You can enter the math using easy-to-learn ASCII Math. If your file has images, you can use the built-in Image Describer. If your file needs number lines, matrices, or tables with math in them, BrailleBlaster has the tools to make this process easier.

Does BrailleBlaster support graphics?

We have some initial graphics support via Image Placeholders and are working on adding more support for graphics. Join the mailing lists to be updated on this issue and more!

What file types does BrailleBlaster support?

The most readily available files types that BrailleBlaster opens and can edit are NIMAS XML files, DOCX, HTML, EPUB3, and TXT files. It can also open and edit MD, XHTML, HTM, and ODT files types. It can open, but not edit, BRFs.

What if I need to edit BRFs?

To edit BRFs, download Braille Zephyr at brailleblaster.org/braillezephyr.php. Braille Zephyr is a BRF editor and is approved for NLS-certification lessons.

Does BrailleBlaster support my embosser?

A number of embossers are supported directly in BrailleBlaster. They include Index, Enabling, and ViewPlus models. However, if your embosser is not listed or you have issues with the listed manufacturer/model settings, please use the Generic manufacturer and Text only or Text with margins model settings. These Generic embosser settings will work with any model. If you have any issues embossing at all, please contact the team at and let us know what model of embosser you have and what issue you are experiencing.

Does it do interpoint embossing?

Yes, if your embosser supports interpoint embossing, it can emboss interpoint using BrailleBlaster. Interpoint can be set by going to Settings > Page Properties and setting the value for interpoint from "No" to "Yes".

Does it do double-spaced braille?

We have very basic double-spaced braille implemented. Simply highlight the text you need to have double-spaced and select Styles > Misc > Double Line. This method will double-space anything with no regard for rules or formatting. We will add a more advanced double-spaced feature in a future update.

Does it give options to suppress contractions for early braille readers?

This is a high-priority feature that will be added in a future release. For now, Find and Replace can be used to find specific contractions and set them to Uncontracted.

Advanced

What is BBX?

BBX is a BrailleBlaster XML document file. When NIMAS or other types of files are opened in BrailleBlaster it converts them to its own BBX format. The BBX file may then be exported to various file types. The export features are yet to be implemented.

What is BBZ?

Often other resource files such as images, book sections, cover pages, etc. need to be included along with the BBX file. A BBZ file is an archive (ZIP) that packages all of these resources. BrailleBlaster works with BBZ or BBX files directly.

What is NIMAS?

NIMAS stands for the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard. It is an XML-based source file format, and NIMAS files are used exclusively to produce accessible formats for K-12 students with qualifying print disabilities. Under IDEA 2004, states and school districts can require that K-12 publishers submit NIMAS files to the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Center (NIMAC) as a part of their print book adoption contracts. Once the NIMAC receives these files, they are available to states for use on behalf of eligible students in the production of formats such as braille, DAISY, large print, and audio.

What is block and what is inline?

A number of features, such as Nemeth Passages and the Image Describer give options to insert items as "Block" or as "Inline". Block means that the text will be inserted as its own separate item, so its own paragraph, for example. Inline means that the text will be inserted as a part of whatever item the cursor is currently in. For example, if your cursor is inside a paragraph and you insert some text inline, it will insert inside that paragraph at your cursor's location. If, however, you inserted the text as "block" it will insert as its own separate paragraph.