Blind News Associates trainee passes 100wpm Braille shorthand – News Associates

An inspirational blind NCTJ trainee journalist has passed her 100 words-per-minute Braille shorthand exam at News Associates.

Kate Pounds started on our part-time NCTJ course in October 2019 and has passed all exams to date on her first attempt and is on track to achieve the gold-standard qualification.

Kate Pounds with her guide dog Bertie

Kate, who has been blind all of her life, was awarded the Thomas Read bursary, associated with the Journalism Diversity Fund and the NCTJ, last year.

She said: “I am tremendously proud and relieved to have passed my 100wpm exam.

“When I joined the course, we weren’t even sure it would be possible for me to take the shorthand module.

“I feel great about it, it’s a ground-breaking achievement.

“I hope that other visually-impaired journalists will be inspired.”

Kate used a Braille shorthand code from 1959 – kindly re-printed by the RNIB – combined with her Teeline lessons to learn the skill.

She also purchased a Braille note-taking device using bursary money from the JDF. But it came with some challenges.

At first, she didn’t think it was going to work fast enough. Then she realised it didn’t recognise her shorthand code and it kept trying to convert it into standard Braille, and every time she switched it off her shorthand became unreadable. After playing around with the settings, Kate discovered that the Arabic Braille code worked well alongside her shorthand!

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