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Guidelines for Brailling Business Cards 


Codes for producing literary, math, music, and computer braille are well- 
established and have been authorized by the Braille Authority of North America 
(BANA). However, occasionally, the realities of transcribing materials involves 
the production of Braille on an item that may present particular challenges. To 
meet these specific situations, aspects of these well-established codes may need 
to be modified or adapted. 


One very frequent example is the brailling of business cards. The challenge in 
this specific case is that there is very little surface area on which to place the 
Braille. 


The typical business card stock used in the United States can accommodate 4 
lines of braille with 14 cells each. One strategy that can help somewhat is to use 
the fold-over style of business card stock that effectively doubles the writing 
surface of the card. In any event, though, there is usually far more print on the 
card than will fit in braille no matter how it is done. 


Selecting What to Braille 


If possible, consult with the owner of the business card to determine which lines 
on the card are the most important. With only a few very short lines, it is often the 
transcriber's task to select which elements from the card will be brailled. Part of 
this selection process should include an assessment of which words will contract 
the most. 


Typically, the information on a business card includes: 


e name; 
e job title; 

e organization/company; 
e Mailing address; 

e phone; 

e fax; 

e cell; 

e e-mail address; and 

e website. 


There may be other elements as well but these will almost certainly have to be 
omitted. 


Very often, fitting the most crucial print information on a business card in Braille 
will require some creativity and flexibility. Some elements to consider when 
making this decision include: 


first line: name; 

second line: organization/company; 
third line: phone number; and 
fourth line: e-mail address. 


The format of these lines should be planned considering the entire card, not just 
one line at a time. All lines except the e-mail address will be transcribed using the 
literary braille code. 


Strategies to Accommodate the Literary Braille Elements 


In most cases, the person's name is essential. If the name won't fit on a 14-cell 
line, the first thing to try is to remove the capital signs. If it still doesn't fit, then 
remove the middle initial, if there is one. If it still will not fit, then use an initial for 
the person's first name. If these strategies still don't reduce the character count 
for the line to the needed 14 cells, the last and least desirable option is to 
continue the name on the second line. 


Some indication of the name of the organization or company is usually desirable 
on a business card. However, this element may be able to be left off, especially if 
the e-mail address has an indication of the company or organization. Other 
strategies may also be employed when planning for the company name such as 
removing the capital signs and shortening or eliminating some words. In the case 
of an organization or company name, abbreviating words such as "lib" for 
"library," "amer" for "American," or "nat" for “National” can work well. 


If the telephone number has no extension, then it will fit well like this: 
#123-456-7890. Extra characters such as parentheses should be avoided or 
omitted. Do not remove the number sign unless absolutely necessary. 


Strategies for Brailling the E-mail Address 


An e-mail address should be brailled according to the Computer Braille Code 
(CBC). The opening and closing CBC indicators can be omitted if their use will 
extend the e-mail address onto a new line. When an e-mail address must be 
divided over two lines, try to divide it after the “at” sign or after a period. Do not 
insert hyphens or continuation indicators to show that the e-mail address has 
been divided. Begin the second line of the e-mail address in cell 2. An e-mail 
address should never be written in contracted braille. 


These guidelines for brailling a very small item not only apply to business cards 
but can also apply to brailling other items with limited space such as package or 
personal labels for food items, medications, CD’s, or file folders. 


A few examples: