SSC Braille Competency Course, Unified English Braille Contracted
(Grade 2)

Course Tutor: Diane McLellan

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close-up shot of embossed braille


This course has been validated by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA). On satisfactory completion of the course an SQA Certificate will be awarded.

According to the Guidance on Appropriate Qualifications for Teachers of Children and Young Persons who are Visually Impaired, published by the Scottish Government, Local Authorities ‘need to ensure that all visually impaired pupils who need to use Braille are taught by appropriately qualified teachers who have competence in Braille to Grade 2’.

This course is for sighted people working with children and young people who use, or who may need to use Contracted Unified English Braille (UEB) (formerly known as Grade 2), eg, teachers, additional needs support assistants, parents/carers, etc. It offers the opportunity to acquire competence in reading and writing Contracted UEB.

The SSC’s Braille course is based on the centre’s belief that all learners of Braille should do so by using a Perkins Braille Writer (or other paper carrying machine) and paper. Offering a Braille course that can be accessed via an electronic device may mislead a new and/or inexperienced practitioner into believing that this is also the best way to teach young children. Effective and efficient use of two hands is essential for reading and interpreting tactile diagrams and this technique can only be developed by reading a hard Braille copy, never by using a Braille display that shows only a single line at a time. For young children learning Braille the importance of developing a good, two-handed reading technique can never be overemphasised.

The course format is distance learning and commences in April/September of each year. The maximum time allowed to complete the course is 18 months. The course runs continuously for this period - holidays etc are not factored into the timetable so time management is important.

NB: Applicants will only be accepted for a 1st April start, or a 1st September start, if places are available (20 max). Thereafter applicants will be added to a waiting list for the next April intake.

Course Fees for 2022-23

Please note that the course fee is not refundable after the first month and substituting candidates is not permitted.

The Contracted UEB course starts on 1st April but can be joined on 1st September if places are available. Candidates will have 18 continuous months, from receipt of the course materials, to complete the course including the Final Assessment which is taken under exam conditions.

The course fee covers:

Application Process

The course application form is in Word Document and PDF formats in the sidebar.

There is space to note background information and any special support requirements. Any support required should be declared before commencing the course so that the Course Tutor can plan how best to meet these needs and provide appropriate support throughout the course. If such support requires any special arrangement (eg, extra time) for the Final Assessment exam, this will need to be requested of the SQA and evidence will be required, eg, copy of formal diagnosis of dyslexia, etc.

Unless self-funding a Line Manager of school/service must authorise the application, provide contact information and confirm the payment method. Full invoice details are essential: please quote the purchase order number and invoice address and ensure that the application form is fully completed as missing information will result in the form being returned and the course place may be offered to the next candidate - limited to 20 each year.

Since this course is accredited by the SQA, candidates must reach a recognised standard for each stage before completing the Final Assessment exam. This is a skills-based course and, by its very nature, requires a high level of commitment and regular daily practice. Candidates should aim to practise daily for 1 hour.


This course offers the opportunity to acquire competence in reading and writing contracted UEB. The course is presented in 12 stages and contains writing exercises along with flat and raised braille reading material. Each stage is assessed separately by submitting an assessment to the Course Tutor for marking. Candidates must submit Stage Assessments regularly, in accordance with the timetable in the course materials; failure to do so could result in being withdrawn from the course. The Final Assessment is undertaken as a timed, formal exam without the use of reference materials and must be invigilated by a person in authority, eg, Line Manager or some person designated by them.

Candidates must have access to a standard Perkins Brailler (or other paper carrying machine), and supply their own braille paper. The SSC has a limited supply of braillers which, if available, may be hired for the duration of the course for a non-returnable fee of £50; non-return of a brailler would incur a charge for the full replacement cost.

Candidates have 18 continuous months, from receipt of the course materials, to complete the course including the Final Assessment exam. NB: it is not possible to extend the completion of the course past this length of time unless there are exceptional circumstances that are in line with University regulations.

Application information

For statistical purposes, for the SSC's Annual Report to its funding body, the application form requests information on type of provision, eg, a mainstream school, special unit, or other, and pupil age range focus; we would be most grateful for as much information as possible.

Applications are acknowledged by email. Acceptance onto the course rests with the Course Tutor. An email will then be sent to confirm personal details with a Candidate Agreement form which should be signed and returned to the SSC.

Once all these details are processed arrangements will be made to issue the course materials in time for the start date along with a welcome letter, a countersigned copy of the Candidate Agreement, explanatory details about the course, how the assessments are to be submitted and other course related information.

SQA Registration

Information required includes full name, date of birth and home address so that when a candidate is entered for this award the SQA can either match up personal details or create a new record. On successful completion of the Final Assessment exam, the result is passed to the SQA who issue the certificate direct to the candidate's home address. (Former pupils/students of a Scottish school/college who have undertaken National Qualification exams (since 1999) will have an SQA Candidate Number (SCN); please provide name and address applicable at that time.)

If you would like to check on how the SQA may use your information please use link the following link:

Data Protection Agreement

By completing the application form candidates agree to the SSC holding personal details, in relation to this course, until the retention period has expired for the course cohort - maximum time will be two years from the month the last candidate of a particular cohort completes the course; this archive will then be destroyed securely.