7 cool facts about braille

7 cool facts about braille

7 cool facts about braille

January 4 is internationally recognized as World Braille Day. The occasion not only celebrates the braille communication system, but also commemorates Louis Braille’s birthday – a French educator and creator of the braille system.

In recognition of the day, we’re looking at some amazing facts about braille. But first, a little bit of history …

History of Louis Braille

Louise Braille was blinded at the age of three after an accident in his father’s harness shop. He went on to become an accomplished musician and received a scholarship to attend the National Institute for Blind Children in Paris. Eventually he would become a teacher at the institute where he was exposed to a system of writing created by Charles Barbier. It used dots embossed on cardboard to symbolize phonetic sounds.

By age 15, Braille had adapted this system, coming up with a six-dot code in various combinations to represent letters of the alphabet. These combinations could be recognized with a single touch. In 1829, he published a treatise on his type system, thus creating the braille system.

Did you know …

Braille is not a language

It’s a code. There are six dots in each braille cell. Each combination is used to represent different letters, numbers and punctuation in almost any language. There are braille versions of Chinese, Spanish, Arabic and more.

Braille takes up more space than the traditional alphabet

Published braille books are much larger than their print counterparts. For example, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is 10 volumes in braille. The Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary is 72 volumes!

There are two versions of braille

Students learn contracted and uncontracted braille. Uncontracted braille spells out every word. Contracted braille uses a sort of ‘shorthand’ version where common words are abbreviated.

There is a braille code for writing math

The Nemeth code, invented by Abraham Nemeth, is used to write out math equations. There are also adapted braille codes for writing other subjects such as music and chemistry.

There are braille competitions

The Braille Challenge is a competition hosted every year at the Los Angeles Braille Institute. Thousands of students who are blind gather to put their braille skills to the test. There are competitions for reading comprehension, proofreading, spelling and more.

Braillewriters are used to write printed braille

These designated machines have six keys, a space bar, a line space and a backspace. The six keys are numbered to correspond with the six dots in a single braille cell. Electronic notetakers and refreshable braille displays are also now available for people who are blind. They can be used to browse the internet, read webpages and emails, and save and edit written work on a computer.

Not all people who are blind use braille

According to the National Braille Press, braille literacy rates for school-age children have declined in recent years. There are many factors leading to this. This includes less time available for learning braille in the public school system and the rise of technology that presents information in audio formats.