What software tools do publishers use to produce books for the blind, i.e. containing embossed Braille?

Is LaTeX one of them? There is a braille LaTeX package, which can be used to print Braille, but I'm not sure it can be used to emboss Braille. If not LaTex, what do publishers use?

I'd be keen to work on a LaTeX package for both printing and embossing Braille but, first, I need to know whether there would be an interest for such a solution...

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    I would have assumed, that difference between printing and embossing is made by the hardware you use for the job. If the dot of the Braille syntax is reproduced as a toner/ink spot or an embossed point depends on the machine/printer. Or I get this question wrong. Feb 20, 2014 at 23:28
  • @JohnSmithers I'm actually not sure myself. I was hoping someone here might be able to tell me more.
    – jub0bs
    Feb 20, 2014 at 23:33
  • From the software side a spot is a spot. And if I get Braille correctly, then there is only one depth for a spot (not several embossing depths which carry different meaning). So Latex and the Braille package don't care at all. It only matters if you send the output to a printer or a embossing machine. But I have no idea how a embossing machine looks like or works. Google? Feb 20, 2014 at 23:39
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    A few years back I was teaching a math class with a blind student. Since I used LaTeX for producing tests I talked with the Accessibility Office at the college and found that their system for producing Braille for students required the test be retyped in a version of LaTeX, so they were thrilled that my stuff was already in LaTeX and they just had to do a little editing. So at least one school "published" materials in Braille using LaTeX.
    – mathnerde
    Feb 21, 2014 at 18:19

1 Answer 1


I've seen this up for quite a while now and will take a stab at answering your question. However, the answer is much more complicated than the question.

The simple answer is yes, Python is used to convert text to braille tags, and a LaTex package is used to print out the symbols. IF the brailler you are using is not designed for use with a proprietary package. I think Bookmaker and Express machines come with open ports.

As a GNU/Linux user myself, I find it hard to find open source drivers for most hardware. So I have a lot of boat anchors sitting around here.

Now for the complicated answer, simplified.

What do Publishers use?

The Duxbury Braille Translator for Windoze is fairly universal among publishers. It can drive a Thermoform machine, most Embossers, as well as the top plate embossing machines, such as the ET PED-30. It also works perfectly with the ET BraillePlace double-sided embossing for making books.

If you are interested in producing books, the lowest cost commercial grade double-sided Brailler I am aware of is the ET Bookmaker.

For the final part of your question about interest in software. I would say no, because of the proprietary nature of the hardware. As you are well aware, even SANE cannot obtain enough information from manufacturers to create drivers for most of the scanners, printers, and other hardware available. Most of the manufacturers are in bed with Mickey$oft and could care less about the rest of the world.

VTY Dutch

  • I work in the EWD AT (Employees with Disabilities, Assistive Technology) area at Social Security -- we always have Duxbury available, and JAWS (Job Access With Speech) can also output Braille. (In my job, I only do documentation for employees who use JAWS as a screenreader , so I have only verified Duxbury is installed on classroom machines, nothing more.) May 17, 2019 at 13:24

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