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basics of braille

According to the American Foundation for the Blind, “braille is a system of raised dots that can be read with the fingers by people who are blind or who have low vision. Braille is not a language. Rather, it is a code by which many languages—such as English, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, and dozens of others—may be written and read.”

Braille letters, numbers, words, and punctuation marks are formed within a “braille cell” using raised dots within that cell that are arranged in a rectangle three dots high and two dots across.

Who Invented Braille?

LOUIS BRAILLE (1809–1852) was born in Coupvray, France, on January 4, 1809. He attended the National Institute for Blind Youth in Paris, France, and while there he experimented with creating a tactile alphabet. At the age of 15, Louis invented a universal system for reading and writing to be used by people who are blind or visually impaired that now bears his name. (Source)

Methods to Produce Braille Documents

Braille Writing Machine: This is comparable to a typewriter with only six keys and a space bar. The six keys can be pushed all at once, individually, or in the numerous combinations necessary to create letters, numbers, and words.

Braille Printers: Computers, electronic braille devices, and computer software programs can be used to send data and text to braille printers that have embossing pins which are used to make impressions on heavyweight paper.

Writing Braille: A slate and stylus, or braille writer, is used to manually write in braille similar to using pen and paper. The writer places a piece of paper in the slate and uses the stylus to punch holes in the paper in reverse order (right to left) because the finished paper will be flipped over to be read.

Braille Alphabet:

Grade 1 and Grade 2 Braille

  • Grade 1, or uncontracted braille, is when each individual letter of every word is written out. Uncontracted braille is helpful for those who are first learning to read braille.
  • Grade 2, contracted braille, is a system of “short cuts” where one letter might represent an entire word. There are letter combinations, or contractions, that represent whole words without spelling out each letter in the word. This method reduces the overall number of cells needed and the volume of pages required to print books and other written content.

Braille Printing Services by T-Base

Braille is a fundamental and underpinning ingredient of independent living for consumers and students who are blind; in fact, many people who are blind or have low vision prefer to receive statements, documents, and textbooks in braille.

T-Base offers braille printing services adhering to Braille Authority of North America (BANA) standards, including its standard for Unified English Braille Code (UEB). Click here to read more about the braille printing options that are available.

Jeff Jullion

Jeff Jullion

Manager of Education Accessibility Communications  at T-Base Communications Inc.