Hebrew is now back in full swing. I am attempting to do two lessons per day. That is really a lot of Hebrew; but so far they are not too bad. I understand now why they have the fall and spring classes meet for an hour four days a week. They really do need that much time, and summer Hebrew really is cramming. It does keep me on my toes, and I'm really enjoying myself.
I'm going to be putting together a paper on the differences in Hebrew braille, the process of learning to read it, and the issues involved in using JAWS to access Hebrew electronically and produce written assignments. My professor and I decided that since this was something I had to do in order to succeed in the class, there should be some way for me to do something in order to make all that work contribute to my grade. I certainly appreciate this; but there is more to it than my grade. I'm doing nicely at Hebrew and don't really need the points. The real issue is that I want to do something useful with this in the long term, and I want to try to form my thoughts into something that is coherent to someone who knows nothing about braille or screen reading technology. This will really be a beginning. There is much more that can be done to make Hebrew study accessible and enjoyable; and I hope that I will lay some good groundwork and perhaps be able to continue it in the future.
What I cannot seem to locate is any information about the history of the development of the Hebrew braille code or standards for transcribing. BANA publications have very little information about the transcription of foreign languages as far as I can tell. I have not looked at the code for textbook formats yet; but I'm so far not finding much that is useful. For instance, I want to know why the use of daghesh and sheva are dropped. These are things that can be crucial in reading, especially in scholarly resources. I would like to know who is doing Hebrew transcriptions now and who is proofreading (if anyone)...
There is a book listed on Amazon.com called The Story of Hebrew Braille by Harry Brevis. Unfortunately, there are no copies available; and I can find none anywhere else. Whe I called the Jewish Braille Institute to ask for resources, the lady told me to type history of Hebrew braille into Google and I would get hundreds of hits. For one thing, I have to type it without quotes, which means that I'm getting hits on pages with those words occurring not necessarily as a phrase. Typing "history of Hebrew braille" results in no hits. Furthermore, the things that Google is pulling up are not things that would be recognized resources that I could use in a paper. I will have to use them anyway because they are all that I have. This will truly be an unconventional project because I cannot gain access to the real sources. I know that there must be some resources somewhere in the world. There are vague references to a book available from the Central Library for the Blind in Israel called The Book of Braille. The author, Rivka Rosenzweig, consulted with Duxbury Systems on the development of the tables for the Hebrew translator. That is the only bit of information that I have been able to glean from hours and hours of searching.
I am realizing that my passion for braille and for literacy in general does not have to go untouched. It can go hand in hand with biblical literacy; and what better use for it than the teaching of study for discipleship?