Producing Braille with SensusAccess


In this article

SensusAccess can convert documents into Braille according to a number of national Braille systems and contraction levels. Furthermore, SensusAccess can format and paginate Braille, and deliver the resulting files as either portable Braille or Braille encoded for a particular Braille device or Braille character set.

Here is the original Braille with SensusAccess PDF.

National Braille systems

SensusAccess supports the following national Braille systems and contraction levels:

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Formatting and embossing

SensusAccess includes a number of facilities to convert character sets, format and emboss Braille documents. Internally, SensusAccess uses the OctoBraille character set, a Braille variant of the standard Windows 1252 character set also known as Latin 1.

Exporting to your embosser or display

If your Braille embosser is capable of formatting, word-wrapping and paginating Braille documents or if you are reading on a refreshable Braille display or Braille note taker, then you may only want SensusAccess to return your document in the Braille character set of your device and let the embosser or display handle the rest. To do that, simply select the Braille character set of your Braille embosser when you submit your request to SensusAccess. In SensusAccess terminology, such a target Braille character set is called an export filter. The table below summarizes the export filters currently supported by SensusAccess:

Export filter Function
braille-lite Braille Lite with US character set.
braille-note Braillenote note taker.
Braillelite Braille Lite with US character set.
Braillenote Braillenote note taker.
Computerbraille North American Computer Braille. This is the standard character set of many Braille embossers.
Dbs Interpoint Elekul at the Danish Association of the Blind.
dbs_elekul Interpoint Elekul at the Danish Association of the Blind.
german_ascii German computer ASCII.
Germanascii German computer ASCII.
ibm850 IBM code page 850.
ibos_elekul6 Interpoint Elekul at the Danish Institute for the Blind and Partially Sighted
italian_jaws Italian JAWS.
Italianjaws Italian JAWS.
Logtext Log-Text Braille notetaker with old character set.
logtext5 Log-Text Braille notetaker with old character set.
NACB North American Computer Braille. This is the standard character set of many Braille embossers.
Unicode Unicode Braille (in the 2800-28FF range).
us437 IBM code page 437.
uscomputerbraille2 North American Computer Braille. This is the standard character set of many Braille embossers.


If your Braille character set is not included in the list above, please send an email to sensus@sensus.dk with a character-by-character specification of the character set. The character set will then be added to SensusAccess when the system is next updated. Note that SensusAccess also supports export of Braille to Unicode. A certain section of the Unicode specification has been set aside for Braille, in hexadecimal notation the range from 0x2800 to 0x28FF. Exporting your Braille to Unicode will allow you to mix text and Braille in the same text document, and also to create visual Braille illustrations, such as, for proofing and educational purposes.

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Formatting Braille documents

To format your Braille document to a particular paper format, you can apply special export filters prefixed format. In addition to the prefix format, you need to select the required page width, page length and whether you want your document paginated. The syntax is formatXXYYp where XX specifies the number of characters per line, YY the number of lines per page and p pagination. The use of p is optional.

The table below lists the formatting options currently supported by SensusAccess:

Format filters Function
format2929 29 characters per line, 29 lines per page without pagination.
format2929p 29 characters per line, 29 lines per page with pagination.
format3025 30 characters per line, 25 lines per page without pagination.
format3025p 30 characters per line, 25 lines per page with pagination.
format3028 30 characters per line, 28 lines per page without pagination.
format3028p 30 characters per line, 28 lines per page with pagination.
format3227 32 characters per line, 27 lines per page without pagination.
format3227p 32 characters per line, 27 lines per page with pagination.
format3229 32 characters per line, 29 lines per page without pagination.
format3229p 32 characters per line, 29 lines per page with pagination.
format3329 33 characters per line, 29 lines per page without pagination.
format3329p 33 characters per line, 29 lines per page with pagination.
format4025 40 characters per line, 25 lines per page without pagination.
format4025p 40 characters per line, 25 lines per page with pagination.

If your paper format is not included in the list above, please send an email to sesus@sensus.dk with a specification of format. The format will then be added to SensusAccess when the system is next updated.

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Using the Portable Embosser Format

The Portable Embosser Format--or PEF--is a standardized way of embossing Braille documents and is the recommended format for Braille produced by SensusAccess. Based on XML and Unicode, PEF is a document type that represents Braille pages in digital form, accurately and unambiguously and regardless of language, location, embosser settings, braille code and computer environment. PEF can be used for Braille embossing and archiving anywhere in the world, irrespective of how the Braille was produced.

SensusAccess uses special export filters (prefixed pef) to render Braille in PEF. Along with the prefix pef, you need to specify the requested page width, page length, whether you want your document paginated and whether you want duplex printing. The syntax is pefXXYYpd where XX specifies the number of characters per line, YY the number of lines per page, p pagination and d duplex. The use of p and d are optional, and either one can be used irrespective of the other.

The table below lists the PEF options currently supported by SensusAccess:

PEF filters Function
pef2929 29 characters per line, 29 lines per page without pagination.
pef2929d 29 characters per line, 29 lines per page with duplex.
pef2929p 29 characters per line, 29 lines per page with pagination.
pef2929pd 29 characters per line, 29 lines per page with pagination and duplex.
pef3025 30 characters per line, 25 lines per page without pagination.
pef3025d 30 characters per line, 25 lines per page with duplex
pef3025p 30 characters per line, 25 lines per page with pagination.
pef3025pd 30 characters per line, 25 lines per page with pagination and duplex.
pef3028 30 characters per line, 28 lines per page without pagination.
pef3028d 30 characters per line, 28 lines per page with duplex.
pef3028p 30 characters per line, 28 lines per page with pagination.
pef3028pd 30 characters per line, 28 lines per page with pagination and duplex
pef3227 32 characters per line, 27 lines per page without pagination.
pef3227d 32 characters per line, 27 lines per page without duplex
pef3227p 32 characters per line, 27 lines per page with pagination.
pef3227pd 32 characters per line, 27 lines per page with pagination and duplex.
pef3229 32 characters per line, 29 lines per page without pagination.
pef3229d 32 characters per line, 29 lines per page without duplex.
pef3229p 32 characters per line, 29 lines per page with pagination
pef3229pd 32 characters per line, 29 lines per page with pagination and duplex.
pef3329 33 characters per line, 29 lines per page without pagination.
pef3329d 33 characters per line, 29 lines per page without duplex
pef3329p 33 characters per line, 29 lines per page with pagination.
pef3329pd 33 characters per line, 29 lines per page with pagination and duplex.
pef4025 40 characters per line, 25 lines per page without pagination.
pef4025d 40 characters per line, 25 lines per page without duplex.
pef4025p 40 characters per line, 25 lines per page with pagination.
pef4025pd 40 characters per line, 25 lines per page with pagination and duplex.

If your paper format is not included in the list above, please send an email to sensus@sensus.dk with a specification of the format. The format will then be added to SensusAccess when the system is next updated.

Following conversion into Braille in PEF, the result from SensusAccess is an XML file in Unicode with a .PEF extension. To send the PEF file to an embosser, an embossing utility is required. Sensus recommends the use of the free Easy Embossing Utility, developed by the inventors of the PEF format. The PEF Easy Embossing Utility can be downloaded and supports most available Braille embossers. As an alternative, the Daisy Pipeline includes scripts for embossing PEF files.

Once installed, files with the .PEF extension are associated with the PEF Easy Embossing Utility and double-clicking a PEF file will open the interface to the utility. The first time the application is launched, you will need to specify the brand and model of your Braille embosser, the paper format and the Braille character set used by the embosser.

In addition to embossing, the PEF Easy Embossing Utility also features a preview option.

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