Most common writing system for the blind.

Braille characters are made of raised dots, lined up like so:

* *
* *
* *

The basic alphabet is easy to learn, ten symbols for A - J, repeated with one extra dot for K - T, 5 more with yet another added dot for U - Z (with the exception of W, there was no W in the french alphabet when Louis Braille made this up.)

Unfortunately, reading dots with your finger is slow comparared to visually reading text. To combat this, a complex system of contractions and abbreviations was developed using the remaining combinations of dots and by leaving letters out of certain long words.

Note that there are less than 2^6 = 64 different Braille symbols available, because some symbols are too easily confused (consider all the symbols, like a, which consist of only a single dot -- the prefix used to indicate capital letters is the one least likely to be confused with a, but it only makes the other four more likely to be confused). Because of this, the Braille system uses prefix characters to indicate capital letters and numbers (using the first ten letters as the digits). Also, each letter represents a common word when used alone.

The Braille alphabet:

 1     2     3     4     5     6     7     8     9     
 a     b     c     d     e     f     g     h     i     j
* .   * .   * *   * *   * .   * *   * *   * .   . *   . *
. .   * .   . .   . *   . *   * .   * *   * *   * .   * *
. .   . .   . .   . .   . .   . .   . .   . .   . .   . .

 k     l     m     n     o     p     q     r     s     t
* .   * .   * *   * *   * .   * *   * *   * .   . *   . *
. .   * .   . .   . *   . *   * .   * *   * *   * .   * *
* .   * .   * .   * .   * .   * .   * .   * .   * .   * .

 u     v     x     y     z     w     capital     number 
* .   * .   * *   * *   * .   . *      . .        . * 
. .   * .   . .   . *   . *   * *      . .        . * 
* *   * *   * *   * *   * *   . *      . *        * * 

Source: Merriam-Webster's New International Dictionary, Second Edition and Merriam-Webster's Third New International Dictionary.

NI2 says other dot patterns are used for other common words and punctuation and partial words. If anybody has information on this, please add a writeup to this node.

Yes, other patterns are used for other symbols and short-forms for letter combinations. This is often called "Grade II Braille." This also includes the use of single letters alone meaning whole words.

 comma     period      ?          !         apostrophe
 . .       . .        . .        . .          . .
 * .       * *        * .        * *          . .
 . .       . *        * *        * .          * .


 hyphen    dash             open-quote     close-quote
 . .       . .   . .         . .              . .
 . .       . .   . .         * .              . *
 * *       * *   * *         * *              * *


 (         )                  brackets
 . .       . .           . .  . .      . .  . .
 * *       * *           . .  * *      * *  . .
 * *       * *           . *  * *      * *  * .


      single quotes
  . .  . .      . .  . .
  . .  * .      * .  . .
  . *  * *      * *  * .



 and      for      of      the       with
 * *     * *      * .     . *         . *
 * .     * *      * *     * .         * *
 * *     * *      * *     * *         * *


 ch     sh       th       wh       ou      st      ar       er       ed
 * .    * *      * *      * .      * .     . *     . *      * *      * *
 . .    . .      . *      . *      * *     . .     . *      * *      * .
 . *    . *      . *      . *      . *     * .     * .      . *      . *


 gh     ow       bb       cc       dd      ff      gg       ea
 * .    . *      . .      . .      . .     . .     . .      . .
 * .    * .      * .      * *      * *     * *     * *      * .
 . *    . *      * .      . .      . *     * .     * *      . .


 con-   dis-     com-     -ble     -ing    in      en       be(-)
 . .    . .      . .       . *     . *     . .     . .      . .
 * *    * *      . .       . *     . .     . *     * .      * .
 . .    . *      * *       * *     * *     * .     . *      * .


 to       into         by         his      was     were
 . .    . .  . .       . .        . .      . .     . .
 * *    . *  * *       . *        * .      . *     * *
 * .    * .  * .       * *        * *      * *     * *


 letter-sign          italic          asterisk           ellipsis
 . .                  . *             . .  . .           . .  . .  . .
 . *                  . .             . *  . *           . .  . .  . .
 . *                  . *             * .  * .           * .  * .  * .


 decimal point       %              $           section sign
 . *               . .  * *        . .             . .  . *
 . .               * *  * .        * *             . .  * .
 . *               . .  * .        . *             * .  * .

There are also extensive short-form words... like abbreviations, leaving some letters out of common words and such. Also, many common suffixes are handled by having special symbols followed by a letter at the end of a word. Every single letter is also a word, when it stands alone, as are the "diphthong" symbols. The various apparent ambiguities in the table above aren't really so, due to restrictions on when things can be used. So diphthong symbols that look like punctuation can only be used in the middle of words, since punctionation only comes at the edges of words. There are other exceptions and details I've glossed over.

I understand there's also such a thing as Grade III Braille, which refers to more special-purpose symbols, such as used for computer programming and representing ASCII and such. I've seen computer braille-readers with four rows and not three; I don't know anything about that.

Computer braille readers and most braille displays have four rows instead of three because of the following reasons.

A braille display must be able to show the cursor for editing and to facillitate keeping track of where you are. Also, certain symbols such as the carriage return in ascii text can be displayed as the letter m with a dot 8 under it. There are also special arrangements used for mathematics. I'd personally like to strangle the person who came up with it, what his name Nemeth I can't stand that particular form of braille. But for example, a fraction would look like this, assuming that you have looked at the table above.

thcstdble
however, when reading a recipe, ninety percent of the time the fraction symbols are omitted, except for the slash. Also, certain contractions follow a higharchy. i.e fever is not done as f-dot5-e, because it just isn't. You type fev and then use the er contraction. I've always wondered about that until I asked my vision teacher in the fifth grade, and he explained it to me. If anyone has any questions, feel free to pm me.

Braille (?), n.

A system of printing or writing for the blind in which the characters are represented by tangible points or dots. It was invented by Louis Braille, a French teacher of the blind.

 

© Webster 1913.

Log in or registerto write something here or to contact authors.