[tex4ht] Could LaTeX Be Used to Format Braille Documents?

Susan Jolly easjolly at ix.netcom.com
Wed Oct 26 17:55:21 CEST 2011

Thank you all! I appreciate your interest in possibly furthering one of 
Eitan Gurari's major concerns.

I was trying to investigate whether it would be possible to use a LaTeX 
processor as part of an open source tool chain to produce formatted braille 
from a print source. I was imagining a process that would start by using a 
custom tool to translate the print to braille and create a source file 
consisting of braille content together with the information needed by the 
LaTeX formatter.

I chose to start this investigation by asking whether LaTeX could handle a 
particular one of several essential tasks (such as those Paulo referred to). 
My reasoning was that if the answer to this first question were to be 
negative then I wouldn't need to go any further. Of course if the answer is 
positive then I will need to do more research!

Several people asked about the example I had linked to. Here I've extracted 
several lines from the start of a paragraph in the referenced brf file. The 
original file has a formfeed character at the beginning of the third line; 
this character is not included here.  The third line of the extract is thus 
the first line of a new page and the #AA (which is the braille translation 
of "1a") at the end of that line is a page number which affects the amount 
of remaining braille content that can fit on that line.


"?\T 8 WRIT+S4 ,HE 0 LUCKY 5 6OBTA9 A

Ulricke wrote: "So one needs only to count the number of
lines and then to retypeset the paragraph at the page break with a
suitable parshape and add whatever you want as page number. That
shouldn't be difficult with normal latex and is probably rather easy
with luatex."

Thank you so much. This is very exciting information and I will try to 
research this more on my own. However, if anyone has any links to suggest 
I'll be very appreciative.

Susan Jolly

[P.S. To answer some other questions, the example braille file was 
translated and formatted by commercial braille transcribing software.  Such 
software can accept print documents in a variety of formats including RTF, 
DAISY XML, and even a particular flavor of LaTeX.  It also has the 
capability to identify structural elements such as headers and paragraphs in 
a plain text file that has been formatted using certain whitespace 
conventions like those in the txt file contained in the zip file which some 
of you downloaded from the same page as my original link. It appears to me 
that this latter file was used as input to the transcribing software but 
this is not a typical workflow.  Typically, as Paulo pointed out, a braille 
transcription is based on a particular print edition and includes some 
information about that print edition as necessary to facilitate 
communication among print and braille readers.]

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