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The Braille Alphabet (alphabet for the blind, english braille, Blindenschrift englisch)


'blind people say thank you' in Braille

The Braille writing system was invented 1825 by the Frenchman Louis Braille (new window) and it is today the most important and successful writing system for the blind of the world

color photograph of Louis Braille

Text will be read with the touch sense of fingers. The characters of Braille writing consists of dots only, since blind people can use their fingers to differentiate the raised dots better than other raised geometrical forms.

Louis Braille, blind since the age of 3, experimented for a long time until he found the solution:
finger tips with the 6 dots 6 dots
could be felt by one finger and yet available in different combinations to cover the entire alphabet:
Here find you Informations about the english Braille alphabet (english Braille, english writing for the blind, english dot writing) - Hier finden Sie Informationen über das englische Braille Alphabet (englische Blindenschrift, Braille englisch, englische Punktschrift)
Braille alphabet
Braille-Alphabet
  The english Braille alphabet:

  ---------- code table for english Braille (Braille code): ----------
  number behind the 'd' are occupied dots,
  the dots are numbered as follows:
      Line 1   [1]  and [4]
      Line 2   [2]  and [5]
      Line 3   [3]  and [6]

  Braille character a =  d 1
  Braille character b =  d 12
  Braille character c =  d 14
  Braille character d =  d 145
  Braille character e =  d 15
  Braille character f =  d 124
  Braille character g =  d 1245
  Braille character h =  d 125
  Braille character i =  d 24
  Braille character j =  d 245
  Braille character k =  d 13
  Braille character l =  d 123
  Braille character m =  d 134
  Braille character n =  d 1345
  Braille character o =  d 135
  Braille character p =  d 1234
  Braille character q =  d 12345
  Braille character r =  d 1235
  Braille character s =  d 234
  Braille character t =  d 2345
  Braille character u =  d 136
  Braille character v =  d 1236
  Braille character w =  d 2456
  Braille character x =  d 1346
  Braille character y =  d 13456
  Braille character z =  d 1356

  Braille character # =  d 3456 [number sign]
  Braille character 1 =  d 1    [corresponds to letter a ]
  Braille character 2 =  d 12   [corresponds to letter b ]
  Braille character 3 =  d 14   [corresponds to letter c ]
  Braille character 4 =  d 145  [corresponds to letter d ]
  Braille character 5 =  d 15   [corresponds to letter e ]
  Braille character 6 =  d 124  [corresponds to letter f ]
  Braille character 7 =  d 1245 [corresponds to letter g ]
  Braille character 8 =  d 125  [corresponds to letter h ]
  Braille character 9 =  d 24   [corresponds to letter i ]
  Braille character 0 =  d 245  [corresponds to letter j ]

  Braille character . =  d 256
  Braille character , =  d 2
  Braille character : =  d 25
  Braille character ; =  d 23
  Braille character - =  d 36
  Braille character ( =  d 2356 [corresponds to ) ]
  Braille character ) =  d 2356 [corresponds to ( ]
  Braille character ! =  d 235
  Braille character ? =  d 236  [corresponds to „ ]
  Braille character & =  d 12346
  Braille character ' =  d 3
  Braille character “ =  d 236  [open quote, corresponds to '?' ]
  Braille character ” =  d 356  [close quote]
  Braille character ´ =  d 4
  ------------- End Braille code ---------------
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Displays various versions of the Braille Alphabet (new window) for printing Text version (new window) of the Braille alphabet


On the page ==> Braille learning you can learn the Braille writing system.

You can find examples in Braille on ==> Braille exercises (sample texts).

Music notes Louis Braille developed his dot writing further, also for music notes and even for mathematical formulas.

Music notes
On the left (before) you see a music score, and the right (after) picture shows a chemical formula in Braille.
chemical formula in Braille
chemical formula in Braille

Due to the development in the year 1825 is clear: the 6-dot-writing of the Frenchman Louis Braille was definitely one of the first practical dual codes or binary codes of the world! (two conditions: dot present or dot absent = 1 bit)


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The basics of Braille for the written communication of the blind:

abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz
  • The basic sign (full cell) consists of 6 dots and is sometimes used for orientation.
    The dots are numbered according to the following schedule:
    Dot 1Dot 4   top line[1]and [4]
    Dot 2Dot 5 middle line[2]and [5]
    Dot 3Dot 6 bottom line[3]and [6]
  • The number of possible characters amounts to 2 to the power of 6 = 64, without blanks thus 63. Not all combinations of dots are useful standing alone, because the dot writing is read with the fingers in contrast to print. The basic pattern of the Braille letters "a" to "j" is modified for the remaining letters and characters at the dot locations [ 3 ], [ 3 and 6 ] or [ 6 ]. Afterwards the remaining combinations follow.
  • display of four Braille forms in two rows with dimension A Braille character with its maximum of six or eight dots is called a cell.
    The size of touchable Braille characters is 6 to 7 mm, and customarily have the following dimensions:
      Dot-spacing 2.5 mm
      Dot-thickness 1.5 mm (diameter)
      Cell spacing 6 mm
      Line spacing 10 mm
      Height (survey) at least 0.4 mm
    Harry Potter edition in Braille and in print version for comparison
    Due to the tactile minimum size of the signs and the need to use thicker paper, documents and books are much larger and heavier than comparable editions in print. For the blind, the term print is used to describe the font for the sighted. Often, the term 'normal type' is using for print, as opposed to Braille.
  • There are only lowercase letters in Braille. If an uppercase letter must be designated, then 'CAP' (D6 )' is written in front. 'CAP' written twice (D6 D6 ) designates a word which only exists in uppercase letters. [ correct uppercase letters only exist in the Braille alphabet system using 8 dots (Computer Braille) ]
  • For the display of numbers, the letter "a" to "j" is used. Numbers are started with the number-sign '#' (D3456 ) and end with the space or with letter-sign 'LTR' (D56 ) if a letter "a" to "j" follows.
  • Some dot-combinations have several meanings, depending on the context of use. The three charcters 'S1' (D5 ), 'S2' (D456 ) and 'S3' (D45 ) change the meanings of the following letters by using contractions.
  • If Braille is written by hand, the dots are pressed backward into the paper with the aid of a stencil (dot writing slate) and a pen (stylus). For reading, the paper is taken out and turned around. If a Braille writer (machine) is used, the turning around step can be skipped. 6 or 8 keys are used to write (7 or 9 keys with spacebar). You can write on your own computer using 6 keys of Braille on the Braille slate simulator or the Braille writing simulator:
    Braille Slate Simulator Braille Writer Simulator
  • Among the blind, only about 20% have knowledge of Braille writing.
    Pie chart with 80% blind people unknow Braille

    The classification of blind by age shows that most blind people are over 60 years old. These people are often unable to learn the complexities of Braille and therefore are satisfied with acoustic alternatives.
    classification of the blind by age: 0-5 ~1%, 6-17 ~4%, 18-39 ~10%, 40-59 ~15%, 60-64 ~5%, 65-79 ~25%, 80 and over ~40%
    These numbers are extrapolations from Germany, as exact figures are not available. Due to rising life expectancy and the associated "aging society", we can figure that the percentage of blind people in society will be increasing.


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