Bell Ringer: Celebrating the Inaugural Test of the National Certification in Unified English Braille (NCUEB)

26 Mar
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Liz Wisecarver, MA, NOMC

Liz Wisecarver, MA, NOMC

Liz earned her master’s in Orientation and Mobility from Louisiana Tech University after attending the adult training program at the Louisiana Center for the Blind. She currently lives in Oxford, Miss. and teaches cane travel to public school students.

Pam Allen, director of the Louisiana Center for the Blind, rang the Freedom Bell in celebration of those who completed the inaugural National Certification in Unified English Braille. Twenty-one participants took the NCUEB on Feb. 28, including six LCB students and three staff, Institute employees and current students, as well as other educators.

Jan. 4, 2016 marks the official transition from literary braille to Unified English Braille in the U.S. The National Blindness Professional Certification Board administered the NCUEB, the first test measuring UEB competency for those providing direct services to blind children and adults.

Pam was also among the first to receive her NCUEB credential after successfully passing the test.

“People, like with anything new, are wondering what to expect,” she said. “This is not something you should be afraid of. We need to get more people certified in UEB to share it with kids and blind adults who need to learn braille.”

Karolline Sales, an student who came to the Louisiana Center from Brazil to improve her English skills, was excited to pass the NCUEB despite limited study time.

“It was definitely a big feat for her since English is not her native language,” Pam said.

Karolline is fluent in English and an avid Portuguese braille reader, but she did not know contracted braille when she came to the Center last June. She learned the UEB code two weeks before the NCUEB exam using the study materials provided by the NBPCB, and she was worried she had not studied enough.

“i read a lot of braille books, but all of them are the old contractions,” Karolline said. “i got the material right before the Mardi Gras trip, so i didn’t study as much.”

Karolline is applying for a master's degree at Louisiana Tech University in teaching blind students and hopes to teach braille in the U.S.

Eighteen-year-old LCB student Jason Polansky of Maryland is currently the youngest to hold the certification.

“i am going to college after training, and will be applying for jobs,” Jason said. “The certification looks good on my resume. It shows that i know braille really well and it shows that i’m competent in it.”

Jason, a life-long braille reader, studied the practice NCUEB materials and downloaded "The ABC’s of UEB", produced by the Braille Authority of North America, onto his braille notetaker.

“The NCUEB is very comparable to the National Certification in Literary Braille,” Pam said. “; it is not significantly easier or harder. If you know braille and are a good braille user, there are just some additions in the UEB code. You have to reinforce your Braille knowledge by reading, that is the key, no matter which code you are using.”

Karolline had a few words of encouragement for future test-takers.

“If you want to do something, you have to try and really put yourself into it and things will work out,” she said. “i am the real example of that. i studied last-minute, and English is my second language, but I succeeded. If a person really wants to be a braille teacher and they study, this challenge can be overcome.”

For more information about the NCUEB and to download practice materials, visit the National Blindness Professional Certification Board website. Future test dates will be announced here in the coming months.

The following two tabs change content below.
Liz Wisecarver, MA, NOMC

Liz Wisecarver, MA, NOMC

Liz earned her master’s in Orientation and Mobility from Louisiana Tech University after attending the adult training program at the Louisiana Center for the Blind. She currently lives in Oxford, Miss. and teaches cane travel to public school students.

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