What is braille?

Braille is a code based on raised dots, designed to be read by the fingers.  The dots are arranged in two columns and set out in various different ways to represent letters and numbers.

There are currently two grades of braille:

  • Uncontracted Braille (previously known as Grade 1) is a straightforward letter for letter translation from print and includes the alphabet, numbers and punctuation marks
  • Contracted Braille (previously known as Grade 2) has special signs for combinations of letters and more commonly occurring words, such as 'sh', 'ing', 'the' and 'for'. Which can reduce the size of a Braille document by about 25 per cent, and generally increases reading speed.

There are also special braille codes, for music, mathematics, science and foreign languages.

The UK has recently adopted a revised Braille code known as Unified English Braille code (UEB) which is replacing Standard English Braille (SEB).

Further information can be found on RNIB's Learning Braille web pages.

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