Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is BrailleBlaster™?

BrailleBlaster is a braille transcription program developed by the American Printing House for the Blind to help transcribers provide students who are blind with braille textbooks on the first day of class. It can be used by anyone, from NLS-certified transcribers to more casual users.

What's the difference between Version 1 and Version 2?

BrailleBlaster Version 1 is the original version of BrailleBlaster and it is no longer being updated or supported. Version 2 is the new, improved, and focused version of BrailleBlaster. Version 2 is focused for teachers, paraprofessionals, parents, and braille readers and so has many features removed to make the program easier to use and understand. Removing these features also allows the development team to focus their efforts on making the remaining functionality as good as it possibly can be.

What features are removed in Version 2?

Version 2 removes everything to do with smart volumes. This includes automatic volume insertion and management, the T-page Generator, and the TOC Builder. We also removed the Alphabetic Reference Tools. Our goal here is to focus the program on making everyday braille documents, which includes tests, worksheets, reading lists, and more.

Why is my favorite feature greyed out in Version 2?

While many features have been removed entirely, some features are just greyed out. If a feature is greyed out, it is because we plan to eventually enable it again. It's just not available right now.

How much does it cost?

It’s free! As a service to the field of blindness, APH is offering this powerful, yet easy-to-use, software free-of-charge. Download now at!

What kinds of braille documents can I make with BrailleBlaster?

You can make worksheets, reading lists, word lists, to-do lists, tables, study sheets, short stories, poetry, line-numbered prose, and just about anything else you, your child, or your student need to learn!

Is BrailleBlaster easy to use?

Yes, BrailleBlaster is designed to be easy to use. If you understand how to use a word processor, like MS Word®, you can use BrailleBlaster to make braille! You can also utilize the many tools, styles, and automation processes to get good braille done quickly.

Is BrailleBlaster accessible?

Yes, BrailleBlaster is accessible to users who are blind or visually impaired. It works with screen readers like JAWS and NVDA on Windows, as well as VoiceOver on Mac OS. It also works well with screen magnification software.

What kind of computer do I need?

BrailleBlaster works on a Mac® or Windows® computer. It also works with Linux.

How do I create braille after I translate a file?

BrailleBlaster can send documents to a braille embosser directly or it can also save your document as a BRF for sharing online or for use with a braille display.

What braille codes does it support?

Currently BrailleBlaster supports Unified English Braille (UEB); UEB plus Nemeth Code for Mathematics; English Braille, American Edition (EBAE); U.S. Spanish; and Cherokee. It also offers uncontracted versions of any code that normally has contractions, such as UEB and EBAE.

Does BrailleBlaster support other languages?

Not yet, but we are currently working on making it easy for anyone to localize BrailleBlaster into the language of their choice.

My document is in UEB, can BrailleBlaster translate it into EBAE?

If your document is saved as a BrailleBlaster document (.BBX), BrailleBlaster can translate it into any other available code. Note that it cannot retranslate .BRF files.

Does BrailleBlaster support six-key entry?

Yes, but it is not recommended because you lose some of the dynamic abilities that make BrailleBlaster so great. However, if your translation requires six-key entry, it is available.

Does BrailleBlaster support math?

Yes! BrailleBlaster offers multiple methods for adding math to any document. You can use six-key entry, if you prefer. You can enter the math using easy-to-learn ASCII Math. If your file has images, you can use the built-in Image Describer. If your file needs number lines, matrices, or tables with math in them, BrailleBlaster has the tools to make this process easier.

Does BrailleBlaster support graphics?

We have some initial graphics support via Image Placeholders and are working on adding more support for graphics. Join the mailing lists to be updated on this issue and more!

What file types does BrailleBlaster support?

The most readily available files types that BrailleBlaster opens and can edit are NIMAS XML files, DOCX, HTML, EPUB3, and TXT files. It can also open and edit MD, XHTML, HTM, and ODT files types. It can open, but not edit, BRFs.

What if I need to edit BRFs?

To edit BRFs, download Braille Zephyr at Braille Zephyr is a BRF editor and is approved for NLS-certification lessons.

Does BrailleBlaster support my embosser?

A number of embossers are supported directly in BrailleBlaster. They include Index, Enabling, and ViewPlus models. However, if your embosser is not listed or you have issues with the listed manufacturer/model settings, please use the Generic manufacturer and Text only or Text with margins model settings. These Generic embosser settings will work with any model. If you have any issues embossing at all, please contact the team at and let us know what model of embosser you have and what issue you are experiencing.

Does it do interpoint embossing?

Yes, if your embosser supports interpoint embossing, it can emboss interpoint using BrailleBlaster. Interpoint can be set by going to Settings > Page Properties and setting the value for interpoint from "No" to "Yes".

Does it do double-spaced braille?

We have very basic double-spaced braille implemented. Simply highlight the text you need to have double-spaced and select Styles > Misc > Double Line. This method will double-space anything with no regard for rules or formatting. We will add a more advanced double-spaced feature in a future update.

Does it give options to suppress contractions for early braille readers?

This is a high-priority feature that will be added in a future release. For now, Find and Replace can be used to find specific contractions and set them to Uncontracted.

How do I run BB on the Mac?

If using Version 2, you run BB on a Mac just like you would any other program. If using Version 1, you'll need to use the following instructions:

Running BB on Mac BB will not run automatically on the Mac because it is not developed on a Mac, so we cannot sign it. We are working on a solution to this issue and will remove this question from the FAQ as soon as we fix it.

  • Download BrailleBlaster Mac version.
  • Try to run, be told no because the program is from an unidentified developer. The message will read something like, ""BrailleBlaster-12" can't be opened because it is from an unidentified developer. Your security preferences allow installation of only apps from the App Store and identified developers." and then an OK button.
  • Click OK.
  • Go to System Preferences. You can get there via the Apple menu.
  • Go to Security and Privacy.
  • Settings will typically be locked. You can use the Lock icon near the bottom of the window to unlock these settings and be able to make changes.
    • Depending on your personal settings, you may need to put in an admin password to unlock these settings.
  • At the bottom of the window is the option to Open Anyway. Activate that option.
  • Wait for a moment and you will get one more message warning you that the software is from an unidentified developer but now you can click Open to run the program.
  • These steps only have to be done the first time that version of BrailleBlaster is ran.


What is BBX?

BBX is the old BrailleBlaster XML document file type. When NIMAS or other types of files are opened in BrailleBlaster it used to convert them to its own BBX format. Now files are converted to the BBZ file type. BBX files can still be opened but if you save files with BrailleBlaster, they will now be saved as BBZ.

What is BBZ?

Often other resource files such as images, book sections, cover pages, etc. need to be included along with the BBX file. A BBZ file is an archive (ZIP) that packages all of these resources. BrailleBlaster works with BBZ or BBX files directly. BBZ is the default standard file type for BrailleBlaster.

What is NIMAS?

NIMAS stands for the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard. It is an XML-based source file format, and NIMAS files are used exclusively to produce accessible formats for K-12 students with qualifying print disabilities. Under IDEA 2004, states and school districts can require that K-12 publishers submit NIMAS files to the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Center (NIMAC) as a part of their print book adoption contracts. Once the NIMAC receives these files, they are available to states for use on behalf of eligible students in the production of formats such as braille, DAISY, large print, and audio.

What is block and what is inline?

A number of features, such as Nemeth Passages and the Image Describer give options to insert items as "Block" or as "Inline". Block means that the text will be inserted as its own separate item, so its own paragraph, for example. Inline means that the text will be inserted as a part of whatever item the cursor is currently in. For example, if your cursor is inside a paragraph and you insert some text inline, it will insert inside that paragraph at your cursor's location. If, however, you inserted the text as "block" it will insert as its own separate paragraph.

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