Upcoming events

Tactile Reading Conference

tactile reading logoTactile Reading will take place in Stockholm April 5–7 2017, bringing together people working with children and youth with visual impairments and blindness from all over the world. Academics in various research areas, teachers, specialists, commercial companies, developers and innovators in the field of tactile reading are invited. This will be a chance to share experiences and research in the field of tactile reading. The conference will promote best practices and inspire to new ideas for research, and will bring people together for future collaboration. Registrations are now closed.

Dates: 5-7 April 2017
Location: Clarion Hotel, Stockholm, Sweden

ABA Annual meeting and Round Table Conference 2017

PerthThe annual Round Table Conference is a major activity of the Round Table on Information Access for People with Print Disabilities. It provides an opportunity for information sharing and learning across Australia and New Zealand.

The theme of the 2017 Conference is “Information Access – new modes, technologies and opportunities”.

The ABA Annual meeting is a full day meeting open to anyone with an interest in braille. Voting delegates represent each of the ABA Regional Forums and Round Table member organisations. The meeting will conclude with a feature presentation by a special guest speaker.

The Round Table Conference will feature many presentations and workshops relating to braille, including:

  • Copyright Law and the Marrakesh Treaty and its implications – presentation by Melissa Wilan, Copyright Agency
  • Braille examination techniques and student strategies – workshop by Josie Howse, NSW Department of Education
  • Using the Duxbury Braille Translator UEB Australian template – ABA workshop by Kathy Riessen, SASVI
  •  Meeting of the Australia and New Zealand Accessible Graphics Group

Online registrations are now open.

Saturday 6 May 2017 – Australian Braille Authority Annual Meeting
Sunday 7 to Tuesday 9 May 2017 – Round Table Conference
Location: Mercure Perth, 10 Irwin street, Perth

Sydney Braille Forum Meeting

Date: Tuesday 16th May
Time: 4.30-6.30pm
Location: Ryde-Eastwood Leagues Club, 117 Ryedale Rd, West Ryde NSW

National Braille Music Camp

The National Braille Music Camp is a fantastic opportunity for braille readers to learn, improve, share, transcribe and teach braille music. It is held at Frensham School, Mittagong, New South Wales over a week in June each year.

The 2017 National Braille Music Camp will be held from 24 June to 1 July 2017. Please contact Roma Dix for more information, including registration details.

Dates: 24 June to 1 July
RSVP: Roma Dix at

A recording of Tzena Tzena, performed by participants at the Braille Music Camp at the closing night concert in 2013, is provided below.


You can also hear more about the braille music camp in the following radio program recordings:

  • Talking Vision edition 224 featured interviews with camp leader Jordie Howell, camp participants Richard Brider and Kirsten Busby, and music created at the 2014 camp
  • Talking Vision edition 173 featured interviews with participants and performances from the camp choir in 2013
  • Talking Vision edition 145 featured interviews with participants and two items from the final night concert in 2012

Sydney Braille Forum Meeting

Date: Tuesday 8th August
Time: 4.30-6.30pm
Location: Ryde-Eastwood Leagues Club, 117 Ryedale Rd, West Ryde NSW

NSW Braille Writing Competition Award Night

The Sydney Braille Forum conducts an annual Braille Writing Competition for New South Wales school students who use braille as their literary medium.
bronze medal with the the words "Sydney Braille Forum", "Australian Braille Authority" and a tactile map of NSW with "SBF", "ABA" in braille.

The main aims of the writing competition are:

  • to promote braille as an important literacy tool
  • to encourage students to improve their braille knowledge and skills
  • to provide Vision Support teachers with feedback on the braille knowledge of their students, and
  • to bring together students, families, and educators to celebrate the achievements of competition entrants at a special Braille Competition Award Night.

Kate Forsyth
We are excited to welcome Kate Forsyth as guest author for the annual Braille Writing Competition Awards Night in 2017. Kate is best known for her historical novel, Bitter Greens, but has also written several children’s books including The Gypsy Crown, The Puzzle Ring, The Starthorn Tree, The Wildkin’s Curse, The Starkin Crown and Dragon Gold.

Students, parents, teachers and friends are invited to this celebration of achievements made possible through braille.

Date: Wednesday 22nd November

Regular events

Regional Braille Forum meetings

The ABA Regional Braille Forums meet quarterly, often hosting guest speakers or special events. Please contact your local RBF representatives for details or watch this page for news of upcoming meetings.

Feelix Library Story Mornings

Vision Australia’s Feelix Library provides fun and accessible book kits for young children who are blind or have low vision. The library hosts a story morning for once every two months on a Saturday, offering families a chance to share a story, join in the related tactile activities, and meet with other members of the library. Past story mornings included a beach theme with a large fresh snapper and some very prickly prawns; “The Elephant and the Bad Baby” read by Feelix patron Sigrid Thornton with an elephant trolley that children could sit in to go “rumpeta rumpeta rumpeta” down a bumpy tactile road; and a Christmas story morning with a singalong with Rachel Leahcar.

Sigrid Thornton, families with young children, Feelix book kits and some toy elephants

“The Elephant and the Bad Baby” story morning at Feelix Library

World Braille Day

Louis Braille bustWorld Braille Day is celebrated on 4 January, in commemoration of the birth of Louis Braille in 1809.

Past events

2017 SPEVI Keynote presentation

Kathy Riessen speaking at SPEVI 2017The Australian Braille Authority was proudly represented by executive member Kathy Riessen as a keynote speaker at the 2017 biennial conference of the South Pacific Educators in Vision Impairment (SPEVI).

Kathy spoke about the work of ABA and gave an introduction to our new guidelines on formatting braille.

2016 Sydney Braille Forum Writing Competition

The Award Night for the Sydney Braille Forum’s Annual Writing Competition was held at the Burwood RSL on 16th November 2016. Forty four students entered the competition, writing on the topic “The Year of the Monkey”. Our guest author was Sydney-based author Belinda Murrell and her latest book “The Lost Sapphire” was transcribed as one of the Awards.

Participants in the 2016 Sydney Braille Forum Writing Competition with guest author, Belinda Murrell

Participants in the 2016 Sydney Braille Forum Writing Competition with guest author, Belinda Murrell

2016 ABA workshop: Braille formatting

ABA holds a workshop each year in conjunction with the Round Table Conference. In Melbourne in 2016, Leona Holloway and Kathy Riessen introduced the new ABA Rules and Guidelines for Formatting Braille. The workshop materials and the Guidelines are available on the braille formatting in Australia page.

John Shute Memorial Concert

In March 2016,  a group of blind musicians from across Australia came together to for an afternoon of music to celebrate and commemorate the life of John Shute. After retiring from his career as an educator, John took it upon himself to learn the Braille music code as used by blind musicians. Having quickly mastered the code, John spent almost 20 years working, often voluntarily, to transcribe a virtual library of sheet music into Braille. John’s selfless contribution over this period enabled many budding blind musicians to complete studies in music and launch their professional careers. Even after his passing his catalogue, which comprises over 30,000 pages of music, continues to be an invaluable resource to blind musicians and music students of all ages. John’s services for the blind and low vision was recognised in Australia Day honours 2016, when he received the Order of Australia Medal posthumously.

choristers with braille music performing at the John Shute Memorial Concert

choristers with braille music performing at the John Shute Memorial Concert

A selection of choral and solo works from John’s braille music catalogue were performed at the concert. Proceeds were donated to Cancer Research Australia, as nominated by John’s family.

2015 Sydney Braille Forum Writing Competition

The Sydney Braille Forum Award night in November 2015 was a great success. We were especially pleased to be able to include remote students in the ceremony using Facetime. Guest author, Jacqueline Harvey, shared her passion for writing with our budding young authors.

Guest author, Jacqueline Harvey, with participants in the 2015 NSW Braille Writing Competition, including some remote students on the iPads.

Guest author Jacqueline Harvey with participants in the 2015 NSW Braille Writing Competition, including some remote students on the iPads.

2014 ABA Workshop: Raise your braille

ABA holds a workshop each year in conjunction with the Round Table Conference. In Brisbane in 2014, the workshop topic was “Raise Your Braille: New and Advanced UEB for Literary Material” and it was co-presented by Leona Holloway and special guest Phyllis Landon, ICEB’s UEB Codes Maintenance Committee Chair. A group of enthusiastic braille producers and readers explored the new and tricky aspects of UEB, sharing their questions and knowledge.

2013 Sydney Braille Forum Braille Writing Competition

The annual Award Night for the Braille Writing Competition was held at Burwood RSL Club on 20th November, with 120 guests in attendance.

Author Nathan Luff with prize winners at the 2013 NSW Braille Writing Competition

Author Nathan Luff with prize winners at the 2013 NSW Braille Writing Competition

Many of the 43 students who expressed an interest in this competition attended the evening, along with their families, friends and school staff. It was wonderful to see the children catching up with friends they have made in previous years and meeting new ones this year.
Our guest author for the evening was Nathan Luff. Nathan is a Sydney based author and the book we presented on the night was “Chicken Stu”. Nathan was very entertaining and spoke to the children about where his inspiration for stories comes from. One student told us that after listening to Nathan he now has a few ideas for next year.
It’s wonderful to see the students embrace braille and enjoy the love of reading and writing in braille. We eagerly look forward to this event each year.
competition prizes: book packs and toys

2013 ABA workshop – Tactual Graphics Production … How?

The 2013 ABA workshop on tactile graphic production was well attended by braille producers. The sample diagrams presented stimulated much lively discussion about what aspects of a diagram are most important and how they can be conveyed in a tactual graphic.

The 2013 ABA Workshop materials (PDF, 8.7MB) consist of visual examples of print and braille graphics used to stimulate discussion amongst the workshop audience. Not all are examples of best practice.

presenters Kathy Riessen, Alan Blackburn and Josie Howse addressing seated workshop participants

The 2013 ABA workshop on tactile graphics production

2012 Sydney Braille Forum Braille Writing Competition

The 2012 Award Evening was our biggest so far, with over 110 people attending. We were thoroughly entertained by our guest author, Andrew Daddo. Andrew shared many amusing stories about growing up and where he gets the inspiration for his stories.

Andrew Daddo with a group of vision impaired children holding medals

Special guest Andrew Daddo with prize winners at the 2012 NSW Braille Writing Competition

Representatives from our wonderful sponsors were also present to help make this event such a huge success. These sponsors included Guide Dogs NSW/ACT, HumanWare, NSW Department of Education and Communities, Quantum RLV, RIDBC and Vision Australia. Their continued support is very much appreciated.

2012 ABA Workshop – Tactual Graphics Production: What, Why, When …

The 2012 ABA workshop was held in Perth on 30 April. Workshop participants included educators, producers and braille readers. We discussed the “what, why and when” of tactual graphics and contributed to building the 2012 ABA Workshop Materials (.doc, 56kb).

2010 The launch of the UEB Rulebook

The launch of the UEB Rulebook took place in Sydney, June 2010.

2009 Louis Braille Bicentennial Celebrations in Australia

Australia celebrated the 200 year anniversary of Louis Braille’s birth with a wide range of braille-related Bicentennial activities in 2009.

link to Round Table websiteThe Australian Braille Authority is a subcommittee of the Round Table on Information Access for People with a Print Disability Inc.
Last updated: March 7, 2017 at 9:14 am