University of Edinburgh

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


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 Grade 2), eg, teachers, additional needs support assistants, parents/carers, etc. It offers the opportunity to acquire competence in reading and writing Contracted UEB braille.

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 are not factored into the timetable.

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 Tutor: Diane McLellan

Course Fees for 2018-19

  • £500 (£325 for parents/unwaged)
  • £600 (outside UK)

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 months, from receipt of the course materials, to complete the course including the Final Assessment which is taken under exam conditions. The fee covers:

  • complete course materials;
  • tutor time (correction, feedback on assessments and support by letter/email/telephone)
  • final assessment exam materials, and
  • payment to the SQA for course award registration and certification.

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 you may have - this allows the Course Tutor to plan how best to meet your needs and give you appropriate support throughout the course, as well as making appropriate arrangements for the Final Assessment exam.

If you are being sent by your school/service then your line manager must authorise the application, provide contact information and confirm the payment method. Full invoice details are essential: please quote the purchase order number if applicable.

Please ensure that the application form is fully completed as missing information will result in the form being returned to you and you may miss a course place - 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. 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 braille. 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 in accordance with the time limits laid out in the course materials; failure to do so could result in being removed 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.

Candidates must have access to a standard Perkins Brailler 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 will have 18 months, from receipt of the package, to complete the course including the Final Assessment exam. Please note that 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 whether you may be from a mainstream school, special unit, or other, and pupil age range focus; we would be grateful if you would supply as much information as possible.

Receipt of applications will be acknowledged. The decision regarding acceptance onto the course rests with the Course Tutor. When this is confirmed an email will be sent to you along with a note of your personal details and a Candidate Agreement form which should be checked, signed and returned to the SSC.

Once all these details are confirmed the Course Tutor will send out 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 you are entered for this award the SQA can either match up your details or create a record for you. Your home address is where the SQA will send your certificate on successful completion of the Final Assessment exam. (If you have attended a Scottish school/college and undertaken a National Qualification exam since 1999 you should have an SQA Candidate Number (SCN) (please provide name and address applicable at that time); if not, a number will be allocated to you.

Data Protection Agreement

By completing the application form you agree to the SSC holding your personal details, in relation to this course, until the retention period has expired for your course cohort - maximum time will be 2 years from the month the last candidate of a particular cohort completes; the course archive will then be securely destroyed.