What Is Braille?

Braille is a tactile system of raised dots felt with the reader's finger.
Braille is a tactile system of raised dots felt with the reader's finger.

Braille is a tactile system of writing that was developed in the year 1824 by Louis Braille a Frenchman with the aim of enabling those whore are visually impaired to read and write. Louis developed Braille after he was involved in an accident in his childhood which led to him losing his sight. Traditionally, Braille has been written with embossed paper. In the modern day, Braille users can use refreshable Braille displays to read electronic supports and computer screens. They can use the original stylus and slate to write Braille or to type it on a Braille writer.


Louis improved night writing a code invented by Charles Barbier for the military. Louis improved this code by developing code for the French alphabet, and subsequently, he included a musical notation in his system which was published in 1829. In 1837, the second edition which was the first small binary system of writing in the modern era was published. These characters constituted of blocks that were rectangular with tiny bumps, which are cells with raised dots. Characters are distinguished from one another by the arrangement and the number of these dots.

Braille Illustrations

Braille cells do not exclusively appear in Braille text, illustrations and graphs may be embossed with solid lines or lines made of series of arrows, bullets or dots that are larger than Braille dots. A complete Braille cell has six raised dots arranged in two columns, and each column has three dots. The numbers one to six identify the dot position using one or more dots one can come up with 64 combinations. One can use a cell for several functions like representing a number, letter, a word or punctuation mark.

Earlier Braille System

In the original system of Braille, dots were assigned to letters according to their order in the French alphabet. Letters a-j of the alphabet uses the upper four dot positions. Because it is not easy to erase when a mistake is made when writing Braille, all the six dots are used to overwrite the error. Eight dot codes have been derived by extending Braille to use it with the Braille embossers where the additional dots are added at the bottom of the cell creating a matrix of four dots high and two dots wide.


Letter contractions are used in writing Braille which is referred to contracted Braille with the aim of reducing the amount of paper needed to produce a book in Braille and also helps in making reading easier. Grade 2 Braille is Braille that is fully contracted while capital and number signs are used in Grade 1. Linguistic structure of a word is taken into consideration when using the contraction rule, and therefore, this rule cannot be used if its use may change the Braille form of a word.

Mastering Braille

Braille readers need to develop the skill of creating even and smooth pressures when running their fingers along the words. A study by Lowenfield and Abel has been used to prove that individuals who use both of their index fingers read best and faster than the others who used other methods.


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