A braille translator transcribes written documents, such as textbooks, magazines, and novels into braille. Additionally, he or she might perform related tasks, such as preparing documents for electronic use with braille displays or duplicating braille texts. About one-fifth of all translators work from home or are self-employed and must sometimes work under strict deadlines and timetables. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that all translators and interpreters earn a median annual salary of $44,190.
|Experience||2-4 years of experience with braille|
|Licensure and Certification||Certification in one or more types of braille code (e.g., literary, music, mathematics)|
|Key Skills||Ability to accurately and succinctly describe images, accurately transcribe and edit braille, and write braille with both a slate and a Perkins brailler; knowledge of current braille software and braille devices such as refreshable tactile displays|
|Median Salary (2015)||$44,190 per year (for translators and interpreters)|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May, 2015)
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The first step to becoming a braille translator is to earn certification. Braille translators need to attain certification in literary braille transcription through the Library of Congress. Certification training programs can be found at community colleges and through non-profit organizations. Prospective braille translators can also take the course online or through correspondence. The course is typically free and is open to any American citizen or resident who has graduated high school or its equivalent.
The course itself takes a year to a year and a half. Students are responsible for providing their own paper, braille writing equipment, and computer with direct-input software. Once prospective braillists have been certified in literary braille transcription, they can pursue further certification in specialized types of braille, including music and mathematics, as well as transcription and proofreading.
Seeking certification in a variety of types of braille can be very beneficial. Employers require knowledge of one or more of the different types of braille. Many careers in braille transcription involve an educational setting, where knowledge of several of the specialized codes, such as chemistry, computer, and music may be necessary.
The next step to becoming a braille translator is to gain experience. Employers typically require employees to have 2-4 years of practical experience in translating braille. Most braille translation work is done by volunteers, providing many opportunities to garner this experience. The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped utilizes volunteers to provide translations for libraries, schools, and other organizations. This is a chance to practice translating a variety of types of materials.
Advance Your Career
The last step to becoming a braille translator is to work to advance your career by gaining additional expertise. Different braille translation tasks may require different equipment, from using a slate and stylus to a Perkins brailler to computer input for refreshable tactile displays. Working with a variety of transcription methods shows the broad skill that is necessary in a braille translator's career. The more methods you master, the more valuable you become.
In order to become a braille translator, prospective braillists should earn certification, gain experience, and work to advance their career through specialized translation methods.