Be a Braille Translator

By Eric Hammer

A rather unusual profession, a Braille translator is someone who works to translate things between two languages. While the experience is quite similar to that of any other translator, there are some key differences between the two jobs. In essence, an ordinary translator has to be able to understand the nuances of the language they are translating into while also speaking the language they are translating from fluently. It is for this reason that most translation jobs require that you translate into your native language from a language you may have learned later on in life.

In the case of a Braille translator, there are two things that are different. First, by definition, this will not be your native language. The only people who ever grow up reading Braille are those who are born blind. However, unless they happen to regain their eyesight through an operation later on in life, they will never be able to effectively translate from other languages into Braille. Therefore, the job of Braille translator is generally a job for the sighted.

How Much Can You Make?

According to Salary Expert, the salary for a Braille translator is roughly equivalent to that of a traditional translator. The work pays in the range of $38,000-$49,000 per year depending on where you happen to live in the country. Of course, salaries could go higher for the more senior Braille translators, those who have been doing the work for years and they could be lower for those just starting out in the business.

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Those interested in becoming Braille translators need to be sensitive to what it's like to read a book when you are blind. You read by touching plates which are physically raised to allow you to understand the words. The whole experience is different from reading in the sighted sense of the word since it is a tactile experience. It's also important to realize, as noted above, that the blind cannot simply be told "her hair was red," since that is meaningless to them. They need a physical representation of features to understand what something looks like, similar to the face masks that they use for "seeing" a picture of a person.

Working as a Braille translator also means that you may be able to expand your horizons to work into other fields, such as Braille tutor for the newly blind or even as a Braille editor. Keep in mind as well that while rare, it may be occasionally possible to translate from Braille into English if someone blind happened to write a book using Braille.

Qualifications / Requirements

Generally, you'll need to take courses in reading Braille and sometimes, courses which are specifically intended for those translating from English to Braille. There are generally no formal licensing requirements however, so once you understand Braille, you can usually find work with a company which specializes in this field as a junior translator.

First Steps

Start by taking courses in Braille to learn how to read it. Familiarize yourself with a number of works in Braille and understand what is involved in reading and translating Braille. Then, look for a job as a junior translator with a company specializing in Braille translation. While it is possible to be a freelance Braille translator as well, work may be harder to come by if you have no experience.


Check out these helpful resources to learn more about how to become a Braille translator:

Wisegeek: How Do I Become a Braille Translator? - This is a good general introduction to the topic of becoming a Braille translator.

American Foundation for the Blind: New Career as a Braille Textbook Transcriber - This is an article about the challenge of finding enough qualified Braille translators and what the AFB is doing about trying to encourage more people to take up the profession of Braille translator.

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Every Way to Make Money | Be a Braille Translator