Scottish Braille Press

2a Robertson Avenue 
EH11 1PZ
Tel: 0131 662 4445
Fax: 0131 662 1968


Unified English Braille (UEB)



As you may already know the organisation responsible for braille standards in this country, the UK Association for Accessible Formats, voted to adopt a revised braille code known as Unified English Braille (UEB) back in October 2011. 

UEB took more than 20 years to develop and has been now been adopted in all major English-speaking countries including Australia, Canada, the USA, New Zealand, Nigeria and South Africa.

We have been working closely with UKAAF to ensure that the transition is as smooth as possible for braille users and on 1 December 2015 we moved from Standard English Braille (SEB) to Unified English Braille.

Aim of UEB 

Unified English Braille (UEB) is a braille code developed by the International Council on English Braille (ICEB) to bring together several existing braille codes into one unified code. This includes the literary code, mathematics code and computer code. The only subject not covered by UEB is music, which already has an agreed international code used by speakers of all languages.

According to the Clear Vision Project, the code also simplifies print to braille translation (potentially reducing costs) and reduces the error rate in braille to print translation (enabling students to produce more accurate print versions of their braille coursework, for example). 

It is hoped as there is just one code for maths, science, computing and foreign languages, UEB will make school and college work easier for students. 

UEB also allows people from different English-speaking countries to share braille resources and materials.  

Principles of UEB and differences from SEB 

UEB is a system of English braille which represents all subjects except music. 

The purpose of UEB is to allow the reader to understand without ambiguity what symbols are being expressed by a given braille text. 

In UEB a print symbol has one braille equivalent. The reader uses the braille sign for that print symbol regardless of the subject area. The 64 braille characters are designated as being either a prefix or a root.

UEB takes up more space than SEB – around 2% to 5% for ordinary text, although for technical texts the increase in size can be greater. 

If you are familiar with SEB you will be able to adapt to the new UEB code without too much difficulty. With respect to the literary code, there are relatively few differences:

  •  Transcription showing capitals is the norm in UEB – no provision is made in the rules for non-capitalised transcription (e.g. for handling abbreviations).

  • Email and web addresses are treated as normal text (there is no such thing as computer code in UEB). No special indicators are used.

  • The following arithmetical signs have also changed: plus, minus, division, multiplication and equals.

  • Sequencing: some spacing rules have changed: ‘AND FOR OF THE WITH A’ word signs are still allowed, but they have to be spaced from each other. ‘TO, BY, INTO’ contractions have been deleted i.e. cannot be directly next to the following word, but IN contraction can be used in the (spaced) word INto.

  • Nine contractions are no longer used: 'ble', 'com', 'dd', 'ally', 'ation', 'o'clock', 'to', 'into' and 'by'.

  • There are separate indicators for bold, italics and underline.

  • Some punctuation signs have been revised e.g. there are now different symbols for open brackets, close brackets, the ellipsis and dash, asterisk, decimal point, pound signs, dollar sign, degree sign, per cent and commercial “at”.

  • There are braille signs for more print symbols e.g. up and down arrows, tilde, backslash, underscore; and shapes e.g. square and circle.


Principles of Unified English Braille at the Scottish Braille Press

The Scottish Braille Press moved from Standard English Braille to Unified English Braille (UEB) in 2015.   Production staff underwent training courses

Stuart McPherson, Production Team Leader for Braille and Audio, completed an RNIB course in Contracted Braille (UEB) with an outstanding score of 97%.

Stuart said:

“I started at the Scottish Braille Press as a document transcriber in 1999 so I already had a good knowledge of Braille. The course took a year to complete, testing my reading, comprehension and transcribing of printed text to Braille."


Below are links to guidance documents from UKAAF in print and braille versions that provide additional information.