Another Sound Alternative
For IBM Compatible Personal Computers
Copyright (C) 1989 1990
by KANSYS, Inc.
1016 Ohio Street
Lawrence, KS 66044
Turbo Braille is a computer program which is designed to
produce Grade II English Braille. This production includes
translation and formatting. In addition to producing Grade II
braille, Turbo Braille will produce Grade I and/or computer
braille. The program is a generic PC/MS-DOS program so that it
should run on all IBM and compatible personal computers, as well
as a number of nonstandard MS-DOS machines, such as the Zenith Z-
100, DEC Rainbow and Texas Instruments TI Professional. Not only
is Turbo Braille able to run on virtually any MS-DOS machine, but
it will also work well with any screen review/speech synthesizer
combination. Turbo Braille requires DOS Version 3.0 or higher and
128K of free memory to run. It will work with either a floppy
drive or hard disk equipped computer. While a braille printer is
necessary to print hard copy braille, it is not necessary to run
Turbo Braille. The program should support any braille printer. You
can establish up to ten printer definitions, which are available
for use at all times. Instructions for installing Turbo Braille
on your system can be found in the file called "README.DOC."
As you learn more about Turbo Braille, you will find that it
has two personalities. It can either be a simple and easy-to-use
program or it can be complex, with many formatting commands
available for your use. The choice is yours. In its basic mode
of operation, Turbo Braille will accept as input any standard ASCII
text file, WordPerfect Version 4.2 or 5.0 file or any WordStar
Professional Version 4 or 5.x file. Using one of these file types,
Turbo Braille will produce well-formatted accurate braille. Our
intention is to make Turbo Braille a program which will produce
acceptable braille for personal use without a lot of user
intervention. To this end, Turbo Braille will handle a number of
display/formatting attributes including centering, boldfacing,
italics and page numbers--both print and braille In its basic mode
of operation. An upcoming version will also handle running headers
and footers automatically. Turbo Braille is unique among braille
translators in its ability to use WordPerfect and WordStar files
as input and in its ability to handle many formatting tasks
automatically. Further, Turbo Braille has available a powerful set
of "dot commands" which precisely control braille formatting.
This manual is divided into two sections. Section One will
discuss the basic operation of the program while Section Two will
discuss braille formatting and the dot commands in some detail.
If you are using the disk version of this manual, please see the
file "DOTCOM.TXT" for more information on Turbo Braille's dot
commands and advanced formatting options. If you have any
questions, problems or suggestions, please feel free to write or
call. You can reach us at (913) 843-0351.
Turbo Braille is available in a demonstration version.
Although the program is fully functional, it will only produce one
page of output. (Specify the page to be printed with the "J"
command.) However, this will allow you to see how all the commands
work, experiment with the dot commands, and it will also show you
how fast Turbo Braille is.
You can easily produce well-formatted braille for your
day-to-day use with Turbo Braille. All you have to do is type
"TBRL", a space and the name of any supported file type (that is
any ASCII text file, WordPerfect or WordStar file) at the DOS
prompt and hit "Return." Turbo Braille will automatically write
a translated file with the same name and a .BRL extension. Use
the DOS "PRINT" command to print the file on your braille printer,
or use the Slash W 1 (/W 1) or Slash W 3 (/W 3) switch to
automatically print to the PRN device. The default printer
settings are for 40 cells per line, 25 lines per page, with no page
offset and continuous paper. That is all there is to using Turbo
Braille in its most basic mode. Read on to see how to change these
defaults, should you need to.
MODES OF OPERATION
Turbo Braille has two modes of operation, an interactive mode
and a batch mode. Either mode is entered from the DOS ">" prompt.
In batch mode you enter the program name, any applicable switches
and the filename(s) to be translated from the DOS command line and
hit the "carriage return" or "enter" key. The program executes,
performs the translation/formatting tasks as instructed and exits,
leaving you at the DOS prompt once again.
To enter Turbo Braille's Interactive Mode, simply type "TBRL"
at the DOS ">" prompt. (Do not type the quotation marks; they are
included to indicate that the enclosed text is a command.)
Further, case is not important when typing a command from the DOS
prompt. The program will run, giving you a sign-on message and the
Turbo Braille prompt, which is TB->. When you see the TB-> prompt
you know that you are in Interactive Mode. From this mode, you can
enter filename(s) and/or other commands which will be immediately
executed. Once all files/commands have been processed, you will
be returned to the TB-> prompt.
In the Interactive Mode, filenames and commands are entered
one at a time. It is possible to use the DOS wild card characters
"?" and "*" when specifying files to be processed. The wild card
characters are also available f or use in Batch Mode. When using
these wild card characters, it is possible to specify more files
than you intended for processing. For this reason, files with
certain extensions have been excluded. These include files with
the extensions .COM, .EXE, .LIB, .OBJ AND .SYS. The backup file
extensions .BAK and .BK! have also been excluded. Finally, the
data compression extensions .ARC and .ZIP and the KANSYS, Inc.
extensions .BRL, .CFG and .PV3 have been excluded. You would not
normally want to translate one of these files into braille. If
you do, you will have to rename it.
To exit Turbo Braille from the Interactive Mode, press
"Return" or "enter" from the TB-> prompt. You will be instructed
to type "Y" to Exit to DOS. Pressing any other key will return
you to the TB-> prompt.
In the Batch Mode all commands are called switches. In the
Interactive Mode, they will be referred to as commands. Each
command or switch is started with a forward slash "/". It is
followed by a command letter and possibly by a number or other
information. A dash "-" can be used in place of the slash, should
you prefer. All filenames and switches should be separated with
spaces when entering them on the command line in Batch Mode. In
Interactive Mode, filenames and commands are entered one at a time
from the TB-> prompt.
Turbo Braille has available an extensive Help facility. To
enter Help, type Slash H "/H" from the TB-> prompt or follow the
"TBRL" command with a Slash H. You can then read through the Help
information a screen at a time learning about the program. To
navigate within the Help system you type a letter followed by a
press of the "carriage return" or "enter" key. The available
letters are "N" for the next screen, "P" for the previous screen,
"F" for the first screen and "D" for done. Upon exiting Help, you
will be back at the TB-> prompt.
INPUT AND OUTPUT FILES
As mentioned earlier, Turbo Braille accepts three standard
file formats as its input. These file types are ASCII text files,
WordPerfect Version 4.2 and 5.0 files and WordStar Professional
Version 4.0, 5.0 and 5.5 files. Those of you who have used
earlier versions of Turbo Braille will notice that the ability to
handle later versions of WordPerfect and WordStar files is the
major difference with Version 2.0 of Turbo Braille. In addition,
a number of translation errors have been corrected and the program
can now handle long lines of text, such as those produced by
spreadsheet programs. .
Actually, Turbo Braille will accept a fourth kind of file as
input, a "BIF" or Braille Intermediate File. BIF files are
produced by Turbo Braille itself and are ASCII files interspersed
with the dot commands which Turbo Braille uses to control
formatting. Turbo Braille appends a three-letter extension to file
names so their type can be identified. All translated braille
files will be followed by ".BRL" and all BIF files will be followed
When using Turbo Braille, it is possible to: produce a
braille file which can be printed at a later time; produce a BIF
file which can be edited and/or printed at a later time; or produce
braille and BIF files at the same time. The default for Turbo
Braille is to produce Braille files, although this can be easily
There are two switches/commands which control the kind of file
produced, Slash M "/M" and Slash W "/W". Each of these is followed
by a number in the range of 0 through 3. Further, either can be
followed by a Question Mark "?" which will show you the current
setting. The choices are as follows: /M0 produces no output, /M1
makes a BIF file, /M2 makes a braille file and /M3 makes both a
braille and BIF file. What happens to files is controlled by the
"W" switch or command. The choices here are: /W0 discards all
braille output, /W1 sends output to a printer, /W2 writes to a file
with the .BRL extension and /W3 sends output to a printer and to
a file. The default setting is 2, which of course means that a
braille file is written.
As you have seen so far, Turbo Braille has a number of options
which can be easily changed while you are using the program. The
values for all the commands and switches plus all printer
definitions and Global dot commands are saved in a file called
"TBRL.CFG". Two kinds of Setups are available, Local and Global.
As you recall, in the "README.DOC" file you were advised to
put Turbo Braille in a subdirectory called "\TB" if you use a hard
disk equipped computer. You were then advised to put this
subdirectory on your "path." This will allow you to run Turbo
Braille from any subdirectory on your computer.
Another reason for this advice has to do with Setups. Two
kinds of Setups are available to you when using Turbo Braille,
Global and Local. A Global Setup is located in the same directory
as Turbo Braille itself. Any commands found here will be applied
to all files processed by the program. A Local Setup can be
located in any subdirectory other than the one which contains Turbo
Braille. This means that you can establish sub-directories for
different kinds of data or output files, with appropriate Local
Setups for each.
When you execute the program, Turbo Braille first checks the
subdirectory into which you are logged for a TBRL.CFG file and, if
one is found, it is used to establish the default settings. If
there is none there, Turbo Braille checks in the directory in which
the program is located. If one is found here, it is used as the
If you make any changes while using the program, such as
defining a printer, and you wish to make these changes permanent,
you must save the changes as either a Local or Global Setup. This
is done with the Slash SL (/SL) or Slash SG (/SG) commands or
switches respectively. To make any setup a Local Setup you must
also be logged into a directory other than that in which Turbo
Braille is located. Remember that Global Setups are the default
unless a Local Setup has been established. If it has, it becomes
You can also review and save Setups from within Turbo Braille.
This is done with the Slash S "/S" command or switch. The "/S" is
followed by one of three choices, "?" "G" or "L". The "/S?"
command will display information about the Setup currently being
used, "/SG" will save a Global Setup and "/SL" will save a Local
Setup in the current subdirectory.
Turbo Braille has the ability to store information on up to
ten printers. They are numbered 0 through 9 with 0 being the
default. Thus, Turbo Braille will automatically format for printer
0 unless you tell it otherwise. Printer 0 is not redefinable by
To define a printer, Turbo Braille needs to know the page
length in lines, the line length in braille cells, whether or not
you want a page offset and if so how much, whether your printer
uses continuous paper or single sheets and finally whether or not
form feeds are necessary. Page offset is space which is
automatically inserted at the beginning or left side of each line.
This space may be necessary to allow for the binding of pages. A
form feed is a command which advances your printer to the next
page. Most printers require a form feed from the software. Try
providing a form feed, and if you get a blank sheet between printed
pages, change this selection.
Printers are handled with the Slash P "/P" command or switch.
The possible modifiers are Question Mark "?" or a digit 0 through
9 which allows you to work with a specific printer definition. The
command or switch "/p?" will display information on all defined
printers while /P# (where # is the number, 0 through 9, of a
specific printer) will allow you to work with that printer
definition. After you press "/P#" you will be prompted to press
"C" to change the definition, "D" to delete the definition or "K"
to keep the definition. If you change it, you will be prompted to
fill in each necessary item of information. For the page offset,
you can enter "N" for No or enter a number of cells to use as an
offset. Typing "0" will also have the same effect as typing "N".
All printer definitions are saved as a part of a Local or Global
As mentioned earlier, printer 0 is the default. If you are
using any other definition for printing, you must specify
formatting for that printer with the Slash F "/F" command or
switch. To use this command or switch, enter "/F" followed
immediately by a digit 0 through 9 corresponding to the desired
printer. This information, if changed, should also be saved in a
In Section Two of this manual you will learn in detail about
the many dot commands used to control braille formatting in BIF
files. These dot commands can be embedded in a BIF file and/or
added to a Setup file so that they will apply to the entire
document. Dot commands are added with the Slash A "/A" command or
switch and deleted with the Slash D "/D" command or switch. The
"A" or "D" are followed immediately by any legal dot command
including its leading period. The command Slash D* "/D*" will
delete all dot commands from the Setup.
The Slash W (/w) command or switch is used to control
printing. It is followed by a number 0 through 3. At setting 0,
no printing will take place. Setting 1 will direct output to a
printer, setting 2 directs output to a file and setting 3 directs
output to both a printer and a file. You will remember that the
type of file, .BIF, .BRL or both is controlled by the Slash M "/m"
switch or command.
The Slash W "/w" command or switch directs output to the DOS
PRN device. This is normally LPT1, but can be redefined with the
Mode command. You can also print by producing a .BRL file, exiting
to DOS and using the "PRINT" command. While the "PRINT" command
is slightly different in various versions of DOS, it is easy to
use. You normally enter "PRINT filename" on the command line and
the file will be printed to the PRN device. For the exact details
on using the "Print" command, consult your DOS manual.
As mentioned earlier, you can also jump over a specific number
of pages before printing is started. This command could be useful,
for example, if your printer malfunctioned in the middle of a
printing job. You could re-process the input file telling it to
start printing on the first page which was bad. This is done with
the Slash J "/J" command or switch. The "J" is followed
immediately by the number of the last bad page. Turbo Braille
would then jump over the number of pages specified by the number
following the "/j" command or switch, restarting printing on the
next page. This command can also be used to specify a specific
page to be printed by the Demonstration Version of Turbo Braille
The default is 0, which means that the program does not jump over
any pages. Remember that the command or switch "/J1" would jump
over one page, starting printing on page two.
By default, Turbo Braille will place a braille page number in
the upper right corner of each page. You can change the position
of the page number using the ".bl" dot command. You can also add
print page numbers and pagination lines to your document using the
".pn" command. For further information on these commands as well
as how and when to use them, please see the second section of the
printed manual or the file "DOTCOM.TXT."
There is one final command/switch in Turbo Braille. This is
the Verbosity command which is changed with the Slash V "/v"
command or switch. The "V" is followed immediately by a number in
the range of 0 through 9. The default is 0. Verbosity controls
the number and length of messages which Turbo Braille displays
while it is running. At this time, levels 0, 1, 2 and 3 have been
Starting with level 1, while Turbo Braille is translating,
you will hear it report a number which is enclosed in square
brackets. The program uses an 8K buffer to handle data and what
you are hearing is a count of buffers full of data being
translated. Starting with level 2, a translated page count is
available in addition to the buffer count. As you increase the
Verbosity level you will be given more information on what is
happening. Experiment until you get the level you like -- you
can't hurt anything.
TRANSLATION AND FORMATTING OPTIONS
Using Turbo Braille, it is also possible to take more precise
control over the translation and/or formatting process. For more
information on these topics, please consult the file "DOTCOM.TXT"
if you are reading the disk version of this manual, or see Section
Two of the braille or print manual.
COMMAND REFERENCE LIST
Finally, Turbo Braille comes with a reference list of all
commands including all switches, dot commands and embedded
commands. In the disk version of this documentation, this list can
be found in the file "TBRLREF.LST" and print and braille versions
are included with all purchased copies of Turbo Braille.