At the Washington Talking Book & Braille Library (WTBBL), the Braille Department focuses on transcribing standard print books into braille for patron use. Braille transcription is a technical and time-consuming process that requires skill and great attention to detail.
In order to expedite this process, WTBBL purchased a new scanner with Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software included. The scanning process allows a trained operator to scan an entire 300-page book in less than an hour, accelerating a process that would have normally taken months to accomplish. The scanned word document is then translated by braille software to braille text in less than a minute. This greatly reduces the time required for manual transcription of a similar amount of print text into braille.
The department’s goal is to produce braille books that are equal in content and quality to the print edition. This means a volunteer transcriber will still be required to check the translated braille file to correct formatting, scanning, and translation errors.
Volunteer braille transcribers — Karen, Randi, and Allyn — all graduates of WTBBL’s braille transcription class are currently testing the new scanner and braille translations. The department also has the help of a Master of Library and Information Science candidate from the University of Washington who scans and formats the books to help expedite transcription.
Testing has been very successful as a new workflow has been established for scanning and transcribing books. While it will take some time to fully implement this new technology, the Braille Department staff and volunteers remain optimistic and excited about this new tool!
Feature image: Ed Godfrey, Braille Department Coordinator