The Duxbury Braille Translator produces braille in over 140 languages world-wide. This help topic explains some essential characteristics of the braille translation tables and indicates some specific choices you must make.
To get a broader overview of a language (and to better understand the choices), check the List of DBT Supported Languages and pick the language you are working on.
Another resource is the List of DBT Templates. Note that some languages have multiple DBT templates, some DBT templates handle multiple languages.
Note: The DBT Codes in these topics are shown in red purely for clarity.
The DBT Document: Translation Tables menu allows you to select the base language and the "jurisdiction" that is to be applied when translating your document to braille. For example, you may select English as a base language, with "American Pre-UEB" as the jurisdiction. That means not only that English is presumed to be the basic language of the document, but also that the braille codes established by the Braille Authority of North America (BANA), along with any specifically American usage conventions, are to be applied throughout, even for any "secondary" languages that may appear as included passages within the document. Likewise, "English/Unified (UEB)" indicates that the rules and conventions of Unified English Braille are to be followed.
Translation tables remain subject to change, because the various national authorities often refine or extend their braille code rules, and also because improvements are undertaken to conform to the latest rules more closely. Consequently, in any given version of DBT, the braille tables typically vary in certain respects, such as which secondary (embedded) languages are allowed, which characters may appear in the file, and whether math or other technical notation may be entered.
The table of supported languages below provides links to the individual descriptions for each supported language. Each language description is divided into several sections, and we provide some explanation of those sections here. The emphasis in the individual language descriptions is on print-to-braille translation, because that is the most commonly used direction and usually the first made available.
The section "Special Requirements and Limitations" generally notes when true braille-to-print translation is not available or when it is more limited in scope than the print-to-braille direction. This section also notes issues with special characters and language-specific considerations.
The section on "Secondary Languages" lists which languages are supported within the base language. To switch into a secondary language requires using the DBT [lng~...] code. The initial language of a file is assumed to be the base language of the table, so no [lng~...] codes are needed at all for files that are entirely in the base language. The general rule is that a plain [lng] code, i.e. one without a parameter designating a specific language, or an [lng~...] code for an unsupported language, implies reversion to the base language. In many cases (as long as the character set is supported), it is possible to enter passages in a secondary language without explicit switching, although it is usually a good idea to switch to grade 1 if not in that contraction level already. The necessity to switch, or not, is partly governed by the rules defined by the applicable braille authority. For example, in an English document being transcribed according to American (Pre-UEB) usage, it is normally not necessary (and in fact inappropriate) to switch to another language just for the duration of a word or short phrase presented as an Anglicized expression, such as, "I had a tÍte-a-tÍte with my brother."
Just as the assumed initial language is the base language for the table, the assumed initial "grade" (level of contraction) is the highest grade supported in that table, e.g., grade 2 in the English/UEB table. Whether that grade applies not only to the base language but also to any secondary languages depends on the rules of the braille authority for the base language and jurisdiction represented by the table. As an example, as of mid-2016, the English/American (Pre-UEB) custom was to transcribe French in grade 1 even though the base language was being transcribed in grade 2.
Another section of the language table descriptions lists the DBT translation codes supported by that table. Only language table specific behaviors are described. Codes with no further explanation behave normally, as documented in the standard "Codes Quick Reference".
The "Characters Supported" section lists the characters only in broad groups, as detailed lists would be impractically long to list with each table. If you need detailed information, a good way to obtain it is to copy-and-paste the relevant portion of a "Character List" (see Comprehensive List of Characters) into a short trial document, and then, having selected the table of interest, translate the document to braille. In some instances, it might be necessary to select a math or computer-notation context, or a particular secondary language, to set up the translation situation of interest.
Essentially the same advice applies when importing word-processor files: If you are concerned about unusual characters that may appear in a document, try a short document containing those characters. The braille output for a character that is not supported is typically the same as an asterisk (*), e.g. dots 35, 35 in English, sometimes followed by another arbitrary braille character or short sequence.
The term "ASCII printable" means all the non control characters in the American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII), or in other words all those in the range D+20 through D+7e in the Character List. These include all Roman-alphabet letters in upper and lower case, ordinary punctuation marks typically used in English, the dollar sign, and a few other symbols with primarily technical uses. Most translation tables support the basic ASCII characters. However, as with the other named character groups, some ASCII symbols may not be supported in a given translation table or a particular context thereof. In fact, there may not be any defined braille equivalent in the associated braille code.
A "Select Contractions" or "Learning Tables" section is included only for those tables that provide that option.
Finally, the "References, History and Credits" section discusses the origins of the language table and its major relevant documents. However, it must also be said that there are contributors too numerous to list that play some role in ongoing development. Duxbury Systems is indebted to all of these in its efforts to keep the translation tables up to current braille standards.
In its latest versions (DBT for Mac 12.4 and 12.4), DBT supports over 140 languages. The generally high accuracy of these language tables is largely due to the help and co-operation of braille users around the world, and their help is gratefully acknowledged. However, errors can occur, and we are anxious to correct any which are found.
We are also keen to add new languages for the benefit of braille users world-wide. Adding a new language requires the fullest possible description of the braille code, together with a reference to any organizations who have formally approved the code.
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to provide information on current errors or potential new braille language tables.
The table of supported languages below is alphabetically ordered by the name of the language in English (see the third column).
|Asia, Africa||ara-x02||Arabic (pre-2002 rules)|
|North America, Europe||qbi||Biblical Languages|
|America||eng-xnate||English/American Textbook (Distinct Emphases)|
|Europe||eng-xuk00||English/British (pre-2005 rules)|
|Africa||eng-zaf00||English/South African (pre-Unified)|
|America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Pacific||eng-xueb||English/Unified|
|America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Pacific||epo||Esperanto|
|America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Pacific||qip||IPA Braille|
|America||qmt-xnem72m||Math Notation/Nemeth (1972 math mode)|
|Africa||qng||Nguni (Xhosa or Zulu)|
|North America, Europe||qak||Semetic Language Transcription|
|Africa||sot||Sotho (Southern and Northern (Pedi))|