A post about Braille from author Victoria L. Smith!
What is Braille?
Braille is a method of reading and writing for the blind or visually impaired.
How does it work?
You may have noticed that in most public places when there are signs indicating, for instance, ‘Restroom’ or ‘Exit’, below the words in English, there are little raised dots. These dots are arranged to form the letters of the alphabet, capitals, numbers, symbols and more. The dots are arranged into a six dot braille cell. All of the above are made up of those six dots. See below:
How is it read?
Braille is usually read by taking your left index finger and placing it on the left-most braille cell. Then run your left hand across the line until the middle where you right index finger is. Continue the line with your write hand, while moving your left hand down to the next line. This is more convenient than using one hand, because the next line is easier to find.
How is it written?
To read more about methods of writing Braille, visit this blog post: More on Braille.
Has Braille been around forever?
No, it unfortunately hasn’t. Until the 19th century, it was very difficult for the blind to read and mostly impossible.
How did the blind read before Braille?
Huge raised letters made of wood made words and books. The letters had to be very big, otherwise they weren’t easy to feel and discover what letter it was. Since the letters were large, books for the blind were expensive and extensive.
Why wasn’t Braille invented sooner?
Probably because of lack of funding, and lack of interest in the blind’s capability.
Who eventually invented Braille?
The man who invented Brialle in 1825 was named Louis Braille. He was not born blind. He was blinded at the age of 3, due to an accident in his father’s shop. Learn more about Louis Braille.
How old was Louis Braille he invented a better way for the blind to read?
After many years of work, Louis Braille more or less perfected his method of reading for the blind at the age of 15. He was inspired to create reading for the blind, by using a six dot cell, by a military man who devised a way for soldiers to read and write messages in the dark by using a twelve dot cell. This was inconvenient, Louis Braille discovered, because the cell could not be felt all at once, the finger had to be moved. This slowed down the reading process.
Even if I am not blind or visually impaired, can I still learn Braille?
Absolutely! It is a good skill that can be used to communicate with blind friends or relatives. Most seeing eye people learn to use Braille by simply looking at it, not using the finger to feel it. When I personally was learning Braille, I thought it wise to learn to feel the cells as well as see them. After all, in case I ever was in the condition that I couldn’t read with my eyes, it would be easier to learn to feel Braille when I could still see rather than waiting until afterwards.
How do I start?
You don’t necessarily need the supplies typically used for reading and writing Braille to learn it. These supplies include paper, a stylus, and a slate. To read more about methods of writing Braille, visit this blog post: More on Braille. These items are purchasable at Amazon.com and other websites and stores.
I started by printing out the above photograph of the Braille alphabet. I took a mechanical pencil and pushed the darkened dots into cardboard from the back of the page, being sure not to tear the paper. When I turned the paper over, the dots were raised and I could feel them.
What about punctuation and numbers?
To learn what the numbers in the picture indicate, go to this blog post: Braille.
What are some helpful resources for learning more about Braille?
Here is an excellent resource for learning Braille on your own: Grade One Braille. It includes worksheets and exercises.
To learn the definition of Grade One, Grade Two, and Grade Three Braille, and also for alphabet and punctuations, go here.
This is a wonderful document containing many Braille contractions and punctuation. I found it very useful: Duxbury Systems.
Rules for contracted Braille.
How to use a slate and stylus here.
Here is a exceptional resource for mostly anything concerning Braille.