The braille system is a universally used tactile method of writing for the blind. Named for its inventor, Louis Braille, it employs groups of dots to represent printed letters and numbers. The system's basic “braille cell” consists of six dots grouped in two vertical columns of three dots each. For convenience, the dots in the first column are numbered one through three and the second, four through six. For example, the letter “D” (in the chart below) can be expressed as “dots 1, 4, 5.”
From the basic cell, sixty-three different dot patterns can be formed. These patterns, easily identifiable to the touch, represent letters of the alphabet, numbers, punctuation signs and also certain speech sounds called contractions (such as “ch” and “gh”) along with a few common words (“and”, “for”, “of” and more).
Note on Accessibility: This page uses graphics to reproduce braille characters.
The letters “A” through “I” also double as the numbers “1” through “9” respectively; and “J” is equal to zero.
|Capital =||Period =||Comma =||Hyphen =|
|Apostrophe =||Number =||Question =||Exclamation =|
The following line of braille reads, “Welcome to the wonderful world of braille.”
A typical braille page contains forty braille characters per line and twenty-five lines. One print page is equivalent to about one and one half pages of Grade Two braille which makes full use of contractions. Braille designed the characters for the first ten letters (A to J) from the top four dots, one, two, four and five. A “number sign indicator,” , consisting of dots three through six , preceding these ten configurations indicates that they stand for the numbers one through nine and zero. Braille used dots three and six in conjunction with the configurations for the letters “A” through “J” to represent the remaining alphabet and other elements in the system.
A single dot (dot six) preceding a letter indicates that the letter is a capital. Since there are only 63 braille symbols, many have more than one meaning depending upon their placement in a word or sentence. For example, the symbol, can mean the letter group (contraction)
dd, the punctuation period (.), or the dollar sign ($).