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Utilities for Bharati Braille

Bharati Braille: Formatting provisions.

  Embossed Braille documents are required to meet specific formatting conventions. Usually, the output is seen first on a computer screen using Braille fonts and the document proof-read before sending the contents to an embosser. For standard English Braille, a number of utilities are available for this purpose. These generally come under the category of Braille Transcription utilities. The popular and freely available nfbtrans application is an example of this utility.

  The underlying principle behind a properly formatted Braille Document is that the reader should be able to discern the manner in which the contents are presented and this implies that a Braille documents should try and retain as many features of normal print as possible such as Tables, Headings, Chapter identifications, Contents page etc. Braille transcription utilities include features to support these requirements but this requires that special formatting instructions should be given before the document is embosed. In other words, the text to be embossed in Braille will contain additional markers to indicate how the embossing should be done. The nfbtrans utility mentioned above is rich in such features but it will take considerable effort for a person to prepare the input document incorporating the commands for specific transcription. Often it may be required to have portions of the document in Grade-1 Braille while the basic document itself should be in Grade-2. Such requirements are handled well during transcription.

  Braille transcription utilities work mostly with English (Roman) text though some of them may work with Greek, Arabic, Hebrew or a few other languagestext. Braille transcription of text in Indian languages is a very difficult task since there are no accepted standards for representing Indian language text which can be recommended for use.

  In an embossed document,  page numbers are indicated on the first line of each page and the page numbers occupy the last cell positions. Page numbering is done  automatically during the transcription process. Also, standard conventions require that centering a line, honouring forced line breaks etc., should be handled. In other words, in certain situations, pre-formatting should be permitted and the contents retained as such. Under normal circumstances, all the 40 cells in a line will be utilized to conserve paper.

  The llf2brl utility has some provision to handle some of  the formatting requirements such as,

   Specify Headings
   Specify pre-formatting
   Specify forced line breaks

and a few other directives. These are included in the local language document as specific "tags" enclosed in curly brackets.

  {c} text  {/c}      centers the text 
  {br}    breaks a line and forces a line feed
  {pre}  text   {/pre}   retains the format of the contents specified by "text".

  The llf2brl utility will actually generate an intermediate file that includes equivalent tags which can be seen with any ordinary text editor for English. This intermediate file can be modified manually and processed further to yield a version that can be directly handled by nfbtrans. This two step approach has been taken to simplify the process of generating the final document that can be transcribed by nfbtrans since nfbtrans requires a fair amount of formatting tags to be included. Shown below is an example of a local language file prepared according to the conventions. The Braille output from this file is also shown below where one can see that the formatting requirements are properly met.

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