The Teiresiás Center typhlographics office provides study literature and equipment for the visually impaired. Their responsibilities include typesetting tactile (Braille) texts and design of typhlographic materials and tactile study materials.
- two Everest ver. 3 printers (print of text or raster graphics)
- two Everest ver. 2 back up printers
- one 4x4 PRO printer (large format printing, up to 5000x300 mm)
- one Emprint SpotDot (multi-layer raster graphics, printing on a colored background)
Usual print format is A4, 135 gsm, single- or double-sided.
Because of the nature of the produced documents – study materials, text books, lecture notes etc. – it is desirable that the text can be followed simultaneously with eyes and fingers when cooperating with a teacher. All texts produced in the Teiresiás Center are therefore printed with a parallel black ink print, which means that the visual equivalent is printed above each tactile character. Practically, this is done by putting black print on the paper in a laser printer before the Braille dots are embossed in it in a tactile printer. Usually texts are printed double-sided.
In the Teiresiás Center the following software equipment is used to accomplish the desired level of print quality:
- MS Word 2003, extended with the BUF template. This template contains a set of Visual Basicmacros developed in the Teiresiás Center, which convert text into the special Braille universal Format (BUF). This format allows for displaying the page with the layout exactly as it would appear in print, inserts Braille prefixes (these prefixes mark features of text that are represented graphically in printed text, such as font size, emphasis etc.) and also processes mathematical symbols and other special symbols. Individual parts of the text are processed based on their language settings. The BUF format provides full control over the features of the final form of the tactile print, such as page layout, hyphenation, indentation, emphasis etc. The format allows for printing on both the ink printers and the tactile printers and ensures that the outputs are synchronized and the black print and the tactile print are properly aligned. The BUF format is, however, not suitable for text entering or any extensive editing of the document's content.
- Word Perfect 6.0 for MS DOS with macros for Braille typesetting. This system was used in the Teiresiás Center in the past, but nowadays it is used only rarely, mainly for reprinting documents that originated in the system, because the conversion of these files into the BUF is sometimes problematic. The system is also used for processing texts for which the tools in the MS Word have not been implemented yet (for example typesetting texts in Ancient Greek). The Word Perfect also contains custom macros developed in the Center for document conversion, typographic adjustment and printing of the tactile print with parallel black print.
- Text editor WinBraille 4 for MS Windows. This editor is supplied with the Index Braille printers. The editor comes with files containing rules for Braille typesetting of texts written in a multitude of language standards, including Czech. It also allows creating custom rule files as well as exception lists. The editor also supports the parallel printing of tactile and ink print, it works with conventional software (Word, Excel, Adobe Acrobat etc.) and it also contains tools for configuration of Braille printers. Unfortunately the support for typesetting texts containing mathematical expressions or multilingual texts is missing. The main advantage of Winbraille is its simplicity; it is easy to use, even for the blind. It is suitable for direct printing of simple documents.
- The Braille editor Tiger Software Suite. This system is supplied with the ViewPlus printers; among other things it supports color printing and conversion of mathematical formulas into Nemeth code. It is seldom used in the Teiresiás Center, because it works with only one of the printers, which is used mainly for printing pictures, usually those pre- prepared using other tools.
Tactile print can be converted into electronic text using a scanner and the program Optical Braille Recognition from the Neovision company, which allows processing double-sided documents in various language standards. When used with more complex documents, however, it is not 100% reliable.
Printed materials are bound with spiral coil and hard book cover to protect the tactile relief from damage. Clear PVC is used for the front cover and it can contain titles in tactile print (without the parallel ink print). Larger publications are divided into smaller volumes, which are put together in a ring binder.
The Teiresiás Center produces also tactile graphics, such as function graphs, schemes, simple pictures as well as maps and plans; these are printed on a fuser made by Zychem Ltd., the Zy Fuse Heater. It uses paper with a special coating which swells when exposed to heat. A black ink is applied on the coating to provide control over the raised surface areas (by an ink printer or manually by a marker or a pencil). When infrared light is shined on the surface, the black areas swell to 1 mm and form a tactile relief. Most of the time the source images need some editing - they need to be enlarged, their contrast increased, colors and shades of gray need to be converted into hatch pattern and alphabetic texts into Braille. The vector graphics editor CorelDRAW X3 is used for these purposes.
A second method of producing tactile graphics, which shares some of the features of plastic model production, uses the thermoforming machine from the American Thermoform Corporation. This machine produces multi-level relief by vacuum-forming of a heated sheet of plastic. After the sheet is placed on a mold (made of wood or plastics), it is heated in an oven and then vacuum pressure draws the hot material against the mold to take on its shape. With this method an impression is produced with permanent relief up to several centimeters high. The method enables production of large number of copies; its disadvantage is the long preparation of the first prototypes.
Tactile images for which lower resolution is sufficient (ca 20 DPI) can be printed on the Emprint SpotDot printer. It uses a standard paper, on which the printer can emboss dots of seven different heights, which to some extent provides the blind user with information about the coloring of original image. The SpotDot printer combines an embosser and a full-color ink printer, so it is able to produce ink print and a tactile output simultaneously. Any word processor software can be used to print on the SpotDot printer as it uses the standard Windows printer driver; special fonts need to be used for printing Braille texts. The printer uses standard HP ink cartridges.
Another type of production is handcrafted models, made of common materials like expanded polystyrene, plywood and wooden construction kits for children. These 3D models are a substitute for images of 3D objects produced by perspective projections. When verbal explanation and description is not possible, these models are used, for example in the university admission exams, which include stereometry tasks.
Equipment of the typhlographic office
Computer name: Hippomedón CPU, memory, hard drive: Intel Core2 6300 1,86 GHz, 3 GB RAM, disk 160 GB Printer: Samsung ML-3560 OS:Windows XP SP3 software: - Microsoft Office 2003 (Microsoft) - WinBraille 4.20 (Index Braille) - CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X3 (Corel) - Optical Braille Recognition (Neovision) - ABBYY FineReader 8.0 (ABBYY) - InftyEditor 2.5 (InftyProject) - Tiger Software Suite (ViewPlus)
Computer name: Eurydiké CPU, memory, hard drive:Intel Core2Duo 2,66 GHz, 2 GB RAM, disk 160 GB Printer: OKI MC860 OS:Windows XP SP3 Software: - Microsoft Office 2003 (Microsoft) - Word Perfect 6.0a - WinBraille 4.20 (Index Braille) - Optical Braille Recognition (Neovision)
- Two Everest ver. 3 printers (firmware 12.2), two Everest ver. 2 back up printers (firmware 9.44), one 4x4 PRO printer (firmware 9.44), character table with support for Czech characters in Kamenicky encoding (KeybCS2) and Windows encoding (win-1250). The Everest printers are connected to both computers via parallel port and a manual data switch DataSwitch 4:1. The printers are accessible via the Index Braille Printer Driver v. 2.2 or by writing directly to the parallel port. The 4x4 PRO printer is available to students in the study room or it is used for large printing tasks.
- Lamirel Maxiplast 260P laminator, it is used for laminating paper and stickers; it enables production of permanent tactile print labels and spine labels
- GBC HeatSeal H425 laminator, used for laminating in pouches of greater thickness and for documents up to the A3 format
- A4 white paper, 135 gsm paper weight
- clear self-adhesive labels (Alkor, RayFilm etc.) for permanent labels
- laminating pouches (Fellowes, Glossy, GBC etc.) 80 or 100 µm for heat lamination
- Binding machine IbiMaster 250e for plastic combs binding
- Binding machine Lamirel Lamimetal 300 for metal combs binding
- Binding machine Lamirel Minibind 330E for thermal binding
- ibiSton A4 back covers, 250 gsm
- A4 front covers, clear PVC, 0,150 mm.
- Plastic comb binding spines, 6-51 mm, A4 21 holes
- Double loop wire binding spines, 6-14 mm, A4 34 holes
- Thermal binding covers, 1,5-18 mm, white, colored
- Filing strips for file hanging GBC binders GJ040
- proOffice (ProOffice) file folders, A4, 70 mm, 2 rings
- Koloman Handler (Koloman Handler) file folders, A4, 90 mm, 4 rings
- 2x Zy-fuse fuser (ZyChem Ltd.)
- Maxi-Form thermoforming machine (American Thermoform Corporation)
- cutting plotter DGI-OM60 (Digital Graphics Icorporation)
- tactile printer Emprint SpotDot (Red) (ViewPlus)
- Zy-tex2 Swell Paper for Zy-Fuse fuser
- Braillon plastic sheets for thermoforming
- Dahle 552 paper trimmer
- Dahle BS 5498 cutter