April 18, 2018

BANA: The Keepers of the Code

Jen Goulden | Project & Quality Manager
BANA logo

Whether you’re an expert in document accessibility or you’re just getting started, you probably know that braille is a writing system for people who are blind. But how do you know if the braille you’re providing meets industry standards? If a third party service bureau is transcribing your customer communications, how can you tell if they are following the relevant rules and guidelines? Who decides what constitutes “good” braille and who is responsible for updating guidelines or creating new ones?

The Braille Authority of North America (BANA) has been the standard-setting body for braille in the United States since 1976. It updates existing codes and develops new ones when necessary, often collaborating with other braille authorities around the world. The work of this organization is carried out by a board of directors as well as various general and technical committees. These committees deal with everything from chemistry to knitting to music to tactile graphics.

In 2012 the US adopted Unified English Braille, the code now used in English-speaking countries throughout the world. The formatting guidelines used in the US and Canada were recently updated as well. So if you want to be sure that your third party service provider is producing braille that meets industry standards, you'll want to start but confirming that they're following The Rules of Unified English Braille Second Edition 2013 and Braille Formats: Principles of Print-To-Braille Transcription 2016.

The BANA board meets twice each year, and the 2018 spring meetings took place last week in Los Angeles. Crawford Technologies is an associate member and actively participates in the work of this invaluable organization.

One way to sum up what BANA does is to say that it strives to ensure that braille readers have access to high quality braille and that the code itself continues to keep pace with technology and print conventions that are constantly changing.

CrawfordTech’s participation in BANA and other associations and standard committees, such as the PDF Association, IAAP (International Association of Accessibility Professionals) and others ensures that we have a deep understanding of accessible formats, and ensures that accessible documents created with our licensed solutions or through our secure service bureaus comply with the applicable industry standards.

For more information about BANA's current projects, go to www.brailleauthority.org