How Braille Works

Category: Braille

Braille is a method of reading by touch

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hands reading braille

Braille letters are made of raised dots (arranged like a domino). 64 permutations of these dots are used in Braille. Numbers are made by using a numeral sign followed by letters A-J to represent 1-10.

Braille was invented in 1829 by, Frenchman, Louis Braille, who was born in Coupvray, France in 1809. Louis had an accident in his father's workshop when he was only 3 and soon after he went blind. His parents found ways in which to teach Louis to read and write and when he was 7 they sent him to school. Louis soon decided that the methods used in teaching people with visual disabilities was unnecessarily difficult, so at the age of 13 he set about devising a new system using raised dots - at 15 he had completed the alphabet. By 1829 he had added music to his system and he wrote a booklet explaining how to read words and music by touch. It took many years before Louis' raised dot system was officially adopted. Learn more about Louis and his Braille system.

                                The Braille Alphabet

english braille code

For speed and to save space English Braille and a few other languages utilise "contractions" that substitute shorter sequences for the full spelling of commonly-occurring letter groups. For example, "the" is usually just one character in English Braille, not only in the definite article but also in words such as "further". However, the same contraction is not used in words such as "sweetheart" because of the way in which certain words are constructed or pronounced. When contractions are used the Braille is usually called "Grade II" in contrast to "Grade I" Braille where every word is spelled out letter-by-letter.

Most of the languages we produce use Grade I Braille and because Braille is not an international language, each language has its own official Braille code.