SSC Braille Competency Course: Uncontracted Braille
(Grade 1)

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) and on satisfactory completion of the Final Assessment exam an SQA Certificate will be awarded. This is a distance learning course designed for sighted people who are working with children and young people who use uncontracted Braille, ie, teachers, learning support assistants, parents, etc. Course members will have up to three months, from receipt of the course materials, to complete the course, including the Final Assessment exam. The course runs continuously for this period - holidays are not factored into the timetable so time management is important.

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; 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.


This course offers the opportunity to acquire expertise in reading and writing uncontracted braille. The course is presented in one stage and contains writing exercises along with flat and raised braille reading material. Course members must have access to a standard Perkins Brailler (or other paper carrying machine) and supply their own braille paper. Practising daily for 45 minutes to 1 hour is recommended rather than occasional blocks of time.

At the end of the second month of the course, an assessment comprising of a comprehension and a writing exercise is completed and submitted to the Course Tutor for marking; the subsequent feedback will indicate whether revision or a resit is needed. The Final Assessment is undertaken under formal examination conditions without the use of reference materials and must be invigilated by a person in authority, eg, Line Manager - please contact the SSC if this is not possible.

Course Fees

£325 Standard fee
£225 Concession for parents/unwaged
£375 Outside UK (Payment in sterling, excluding bank charges.)

Please note that the course fee is not refundable after the first 14 days and substituting candidates is not permitted.

The uncontracted braille course can be joined at the start of a month, from April to the following January (an application for January must be received in early December). Course members will have up to 3 months, from receipt of the course materials, to complete the course including the Final Assessment.

The fee includes:

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.

Applications put forward by a school/service must be authorised by a line manager. Full invoice details are essential: please quote purchase order number and/or attach the official purchase order. There is an online link for card payments that will also request the application form information. Please check that a place is available before using this application route.

Please ensure that the application form is fully completed as missing information may delay registration onto the course and the form may be returned.

For statistical purposes, for the SSC’s Annual Report to its funding body and the SQA, the SSC requests information on whether the work-base is 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. If a place is available a confirmation email will be issued along with a Personal Details statement and a Course Agreement form; both should be checked, updated if required, signed and returned. When details are confirmed arrangements will be made to send out course materials, for the course start date.

SQA Registration for Certification Purposes

Requires includes full name, date of birth and home address so that when course members are registered for this award, the SQA can either match up details or create a new record; home address is where the SQA will send the award certificate. Attendance and taking exams at a Scottish school/college should mean an SQA Candidate Number already exists (please remember to provide name and address applicable at that time; if not, one will be created.

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 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 1 year from the month the last candidate of a particular cohort completes; the course archive will then be securely destroyed.