How are books transcribed?

For each book, we seek copyright permission from the publisher to transcribe it into the format required. All formats are transcribed based on the source file of the book. The source file is usually produced by scanning and pre-editing the book.

Once the source file is available, staff transcribe it into braille (using Duxbury Braille translation software) or MS Word for large print. This is very time-consuming work, as every sentence and paragraph needs to be properly formatted, with tactile diagrams (for braille) or scanned images (for large print) included. Once a first version has been embossed (“Braille-printed”) or printed out in large print, our braille or large print proofreaders check the text for errors.

A final, corrected version is then printed or embossed again, punched, bound and the final volume labelled in braille or print.

DAISY and text files are produced using the same source file. They are edited according to the final use of the file, i.e. whether it will be read by speech software, looked at with magnification software or used for a braille output device. Finished transcribed files are then uploaded to OnLine Bookshelf for secure and limited downloads by the students.

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How long does it take to transcribe a book?

This depends very much on the book itself. Small primary school books with few illustrations are “easier” and quicker to transcribe than those with a lot of visual content or those at secondary school level. As a rule of thumb each illustration (graphic, photo etc.) slows the transcription down. The layout of each page also contributes to the time it takes to scan and transcribe. Depending on the book, any time between 2 weeks and one and a half years can apply.

Please contact us if you require further information.

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Who can order books from us?

We provide transcription services to children with a registered visual impairment in mainstream or special education, at both primary and secondary school level.

To become a client of National Braille Production, a Client Registration Form needs to be filled in. In this form, the parent(s) of a child with a visual impairment (if under 18 years of age) are asked to provide us with a contact address and information on the school/year their child is in. We also ask for a sheet to be filled in indicating the eye condition and the resulting required format (i.e. braille, large print, text or DAISY files), Usually, the Visiting Teacher of our client would fill in this information. The final section requires the parent(s) to sign a declaration that any material provided by us is for the sole use of the child with a visual impairment.

You can download the Client Registration Form here.

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How to order from us

Book orders should be placed by downloading the Book Request Form. This is usually filled in by the Visiting Teacher of our clients, in co-operation with the school and classroom teacher. Please make sure to fill in all the information on the book title, author and publisher – if this is complete, no time is wasted with double-checking! Please also ensure that you give a contact address and the full required format of the transcription e.g. UEB grade 2 or “Large Print Arial 24” (and not just “Braille” or “Large Print”).

The Visiting Teacher sends the original form to us ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ), and then receives an acknowledgement letter that the order has been placed. There is no limit on braille titles that can be ordered for braille users (within reason and covering titles for the relevant school year). Braille orders are prioritised heavily over large print orders and within the braille orders, exam candidates for Leaving and Junior Certificate take priority.

Due to the heavy demand on the large print resources, limits are currently in place for large print priority orders. The limits relate to the number of core subjects taken at each school level, for more information please contact us or your/your child’s visiting teacher.

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How are the books supplied?

Finished books are sent in the regular post. Most will bear the “articles for the blind” sticker. The books are usually sent to the main contact address specified for each student. In a lot of cases this is the school address, but please double-check whether you, as a client, have provided us with the correct address – especially if schools were changed!

On request digital files can be uploaded to the OnLine Bookshelf instead.

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What is Braille?

Braille is a tactile reading system used by many people with vision loss or no vision. It is named after its inventor, Louis Braille (1809-1852), a Frenchman who developed the system after a childhood accident had left him blind. Each braille sign fills in specified dots on a 6-dot braille cell. The six dots are arranged as on the face of a dice. Depending on which dots are raised, the sign carries a different meaning.

The dots are read with the fingers in a technique learned by braille readers by tracing lines and reading signs and words. The skill of reading braille is best developed from an early age onwards, starting with tracing exercises and the development of pre-braille skills. Currently, the skill of accessing information by reading braille is not rewarded in the Irish education system. It is an additional skill which requires effort and time and it is important that educators are aware of that throughout the whole educational system.

National Braille Production transcribes books into braille books, which are embossed (braille-printed) and posted out. Some clients also require the Duxbury braille file to use with their electronic braille device.

For more detailed information visit our Braille Information webpage.

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What is Large Print?

Large Print means the provision of texts in a print size that is bigger than the average size (which is usually point 10–12) and a font type that is very clear.

Our standard large print type and font is Arial 24. We also transcribe into point sizes ranging from 18 to 36 and into other fonts, as required by the client.

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What are tactile diagrams?

Tactile diagrams are diagrams or picture outlines with raised lines that can be touched and felt.

In textbooks, a lot of crucial information is conveyed in a visual way, by sketches, diagrams etc. Tactile diagrams are one of several possible ways of conveying this kind of information. We would, for example, include many tactile diagrams in mathematics books. Tactile diagrams are either embossed, similar to braille, or can be hand-drawn, photocopied onto special paper and then raised by exposure to heat.

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What are 3-D objects?

3-D objects are three-dimensional shapes which National Braille Production can print on a 3D printer. For this to happen an object needs to be designed by using computer software. We also print braille on the objects, where required. The objects are made up by plastic filament, which the printer builds up layer by layer until the full object is printed. If you have any ideas what would be good to print in 3-D or any questions, please contact us at

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What are text-only files?

By text-only files we mean computer files (e.g. Word documents or WordPad files) that contain only the pure text of a textbook. Diagrams, photos, sketches etc. are not included. The text is the scanned text from a textbook, edited after scanning for spelling mistakes from the scanning process. The text is then also edited for use with speech software, magnification software or electronic braille output devices.

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What is a DAISY book?

DAISY stands for Digital Accessible Information System and is an alternative format which can integrate different alternative media elements into one book. DAISY books are basically computer files, not unlike text-only files in that respect, which allow the user to navigate the book easily, using DAISY playback software or the DAISY app for Ipad or Android. National Braille Production DAISY books are produced in “full DAISY”, which means that the file opens up on screen with full text, graphics and audio. The user can navigate easily and decide which exact size font, colour font and background colour is needed, so it is a very versatile format.

Since our co-operation with Trinity College’s Abair project, more and more Irish synthesized speech output can be used, so that Irish books now have much improved audio quality.

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