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News from UKAAF by Richard West

(Note: This article first appeared in the BCAB Newsletter, Spring 2018)


Having recently put together the UKAAF report for 2017, I thought it would be appropriate to let you know of some of the main outcomes of our recent work.


UKAAF continues to host the Email list called UEB-Ed. It is a community where questions can be asked about the UEB code and has become a really active international resource.

Back in the working groups, the focus of work has shifted from coding to more general Braille advice documents, four were produced this year.

  • First up is a short document which lists the dimensions of the standard Braille cell. UKAAF often gets requests for this kind of information from graphic designers and independent producers.
  • The next document looks at good practice when embossing and binding Braille publications.
  • ‘Reading Electronic Braille’ is a document which covers reading electronic Braille using a screenreader with a Braille display or a Braille notetaker.
  • And finally (as reported earlier), ‘Generating mathematical symbols using Math AutoCorrect or Unicode’ is undoubtedly a specialist piece of work but should prove very useful for teachers and transcribers providing accurate maths transcription.

Mandy White has been the lead for our Braille subject area since UKAAF was established, but has recently taken up a new position in RNIB, so has passed on the leadership of the Braille work to Claire Maxwell. Mandy will however continue to be involved through work to help us host the ICEB General Assembly in 2020.

Exams group

The exams Best Practice Guidance underwent its most significant change for many years with the addition of a section devoted to the provision of electronic files for use with screenreader software. The revised version was then consulted on widely over several months before a final version was agreed.


The Music Subject Area (MSA) has 12 members all representing the highest expertise in the UK in their respective fields – music notation software, Braille music, audio description of music scores, and music learning for people with dyslexia. The group also covers all phases of music education, employment in the music business and music as a leisure activity.

MSA has produced the UK work for the International Council on English Braille (ICEB) and has two members working on ICEB committees.

During the year, they have produced:

  • B017 Braille Music and UEB, a guide to the interface between literary Braille and music Braille with numerous detailed examples;
  • B016 Modified Stave Notation, a revision of G009, because current technology makes MSN production easier; and
  • Six podcasts about Braille Music (currently awaiting final edit).

With the EU ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty, MSA looks forward to closer collaboration internationally.

Some new work

One of UKAAF’s main ways of aiming to improve the availability and quality of accessible formats is to publish standards and guidance. The Board are always looking for gaps in the publications available from UKAAF. At the moment, we’re looking at guidance on making more accessible versions of electronic files, such as Word, GoogleDocs, PowerPoint and Excel. If you’d like to contribute to any of this work or have suggestions of your own for future UKAAF publications, feel free to get in touch.