Accents & Punctuation: September 2008 Archives

Glyph du Jour: Braille 1-4-5

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Below is the Braille Symbol "1-4-5" which is encoded in Unicode. As you can see it is named for the configuration of the dots, not for a letter.

Image of Braille 1-4-5 character or Braille letter D in English.

About 1-4-5

As it happens, this pattern is used for English letter D as well as for delta (Δ) in Greek, dalet (ד) in Hebrew, dal (د) in Arabic and letter (Д) in Russian. When Braille was first developed, only six cells were used, but in Unicode cells 7 and 8 were added to expand the repertoire of possible characters.

Most Braille software and hardware are devoted to visually impaired users, but there are fonts for sighted users. Below is a list of links to Braille charts by language and freeware Braille fonts.

Braille Charts

Braille Unicode Fonts

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Getting JAWS 6.1 to recognize "exotic" Unicode symbols

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Update on JAWS 13

A revised post with complete instructions for JAWS 13 is now available on this blog.

Original Article

Although Unicode is a great standard, it isn't always interpreted accurately on screen readers (e.g. Phonetic symbols /sɪmbl̩z/ are rendered as "?" or skipped altogether)

This article from a Caroll Tech accessibility blog explains how users of JAWS 6.1+ can tweak their symbol (.sbl) files so that certain code points are pronounced accurately. For instance, you could program /ŋ/ (U+014B) to be pronounced as "engma" (FYI - /ŋ/ is the "ng" sound in "sing, song").

Carroll Tech provides a sample .sbl list for math at http://www.carrolltech.org/pub/math.txt

For other Unicode characters, tables can be found at:

Postscript: .sbl file for Phonetics

An .sbl file is available for Phonetic characters at
http://www.ruf.rice.edu/~reng/IPA_SBL.txt

Other files may also be available online via a Google search.

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About The Blog

I am a Penn State technology specialist with a degree in linguistics and have maintained the Penn State Computing with Accents page since 2000.

See Elizabeth Pyatt's Homepage (ejp10@psu.edu) for a profile.

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