Re: Localized braille (Was: Gnopernicus and ISO-Latin2 characters)

Hi Samuel,

I would be very happy to see more cooperation on this subject of international Braille transcription. I have started to harvest information about Braille in different languages on the Web or from various mailing-lists/associations/braille authorities, and this has proven to be quite difficult for many reasons. More collaboration on this would certainly make things go faster.

I have put all the documentation that I found so far on this web page:

I also started to collaborate with Bill Haneman from the gnome-braille project, so that we now have a common format for Braille tables (not perfect, but a nice start):

Bill and I have also started to generate quite a few tables using this common format which are now in gnome-braille and libbraille:

I have also worked on an online Braille transcription tool which has proven quite usefull to test those tables with people who want to help improve a table but may not necessarily want to install software on their computer just to check that the transcription is done ok:

Concerning the dependencies of a common transcription library, I am afraid it would be difficult to do without glib: there are few good portable libraries that I know which can handle unicode (IBM ICU, Apache apr, Qt...) and glib is one of the most complete and IMHO one of the most commonly found on a standard Linux installation.

Anyway I am looking forward the coming discussions we may have on an ally mailing-list.


Sébastien Sablé

Samuel Thibault a écrit :

Remus, I bounced you a proposition from Erkki Kolehmainen about having
localized braille patterns included in the Unicode Common Locale Data
Repository (CLDR [1]), because I'm not sure whether you are subscribed
to brltty mielke cc or accessibility a11y org
I've added quite a lot of Ccs. Sorry for such broadcasting, but I think
the issue is important. Maybe a mailing list could be setup at
for people interested in the discussion.

Brass, brltty, gnopernicus, libbraille, suse blinux, etc. are all
software that need to translate text into braille patterns. For now,
each of them have their own (more or less complete) algorithms and
tables for various encodings, languages and countries.

Erkki proposed to have at least those tables collected in CLDR. This
seems quite nice since CLDR people are rather good at handling such
data. I listened again to the record of the FSG meeting in Hawaii: this
very issue was raised, but no solution had emerged. Erkki now proposes

But more than that, it would be useful to have a single library using
these tables, that every software would be able to use. Because
elaborating braille is _not_ an easy task at all :)

The experimental gnome-braille software from Bill is a bit similar
to such library. In a few words (please correct me if I'm wrong), it
is able to turn utf-8 text into braille dots and display them via
libbraille or on braille mon. It takes into account the limited width of
the actual display, and lets the application control how it is scrolled.

Maybe this is a good start, I don't know. Libbraille already uses it in
his experimental unicode translator.

There are of course issues. And they need to be discussed, because else
people will probably not use gnome-braille or whatever library that
could get developped, and they will eventually rather develop their own
algorithms, which is just duplicated work.

Some examples of issues that I personally see are that it uses
libgobject and libglib, while screen readers tend to be as small as
possible, for embedded devices or installation images ; the features
that gnome-braille proposes also seem a bit mixed: it proposes braille
translation, display width management and braille output, all in one,
while I would have rather seen 3 separate libraries.

I guess that for instance Brass/brltty/suse blinux would rather be
interested in a very simple library, with no libgobject/libglib
dependency, which just provides localized braille translation (actually,
roughly what gnome-braille's braille-encoder.h and braille-table*.h
declares). It could be seen as a braille equivalent to the mb*towc*(),
iconv(), setlocale() etc. functions, so I'm not sure whether this should
remain in the gnome project. Erkki, maybe you would have more precise
opinion on this?

Gnopernicus could then be interested in a complementary library that
takes care of screen width and scrolling.

And eventually, for applications (or even gnopernicus, I don't know),
facilities to connect that to actual output (braille monitor / BrlAPI /
libbraille) could be useful indeed.

Well, that was just to give a first opinion. This really needs discussed
somehow. Probably not using all those mailing lists but some new list,

gnome-accessibility-list mailing list
gnome-accessibility-list gnome org

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