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October 10, 2015 | 27th Tishrei 5776

Converting Mitkadem to Braille

Dear Shana, 

We have a third grader who has been blind since he was nine months old and is fluent in English language Braille. The school is introducing Hebrew with the Mitkadem curriculum. Any ideas on how we could convert the curriculum into Braille so he can read it?

This response was written by Shana's colleague, Ralph Samek, Assistive Technology Specialist at Woodlake Technologies in Chicago.


To convert the Mitkadem curriculum into Braille:

1.       Scan the books into a word file with Hebrew Language Support

2.       Use a Braille translation application, or use the link below to convert that into a file that can be embossed.

3.       Send that file to a Braille embosser to generate hard copy.

 The next challenge is for the student to first learn the Hebrew Braille characters in order to learn the Hebrew language. The link has an
introduction to Hebrew Braille. You will still need to have a Braille embosser to generate the Braille instructions that the student will be learning.

It is apparent that the school will need to generate Braille for the student's academic needs both in Hebrew and English. If the school does not wish to acquire a Braille embosser, they may ask the parents
if they already have access to one. If the student will be with them for a long time, it may be a worthwhile investment. The other option of course is to subcontract out the Braille production; but again it may not be a very cost effective solution in the long run. We can provide either solution if they are interested.

Another approach might be to get a Hebrew language screen reader with Hebrew speech and Braille support, and use that in conjunction with a refreshable Braille Display. You still need to scan the material and get it into a Word document.

For more on assistive technologies, see Ralph and Shana's article in Torah at the Center, Vol 12, No 2.

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