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The Braille Alphabet

Braille is 3-dimensional tactile dots that represent letters of the alphabet that enable individuals who are blind or who have low vision to read and write by touch. Braille is not a language per se, it is a system for reading and writing. Letters of the alphabet are created using braille cells. A braille cell is an arrangement of up to six dots in two columns of three dots per column.

the braille cell

There are 64 combinations of dots that form letters, characters, or symbols in braille.

Each language around the world has its own unique braille code or alphabet. There are common elements among the braille alphabets between different languages but the braille characters and abbreviated characters vary from country to country.

English-speaking countries such as the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Nigeria, South Africa, the UK, and Ireland have adopted Unified English Braille (UEB) as their primary braille code.

Unified English Braille Alphabet:

unified english braille alphabet

Braille characters take up much more space on a page than their text equivalents. Uncontracted braille (Grade 1) is when each individual letter of every word is written out. Contracted braille (Grade 2) is a system of “short cuts” where one letter might represent an entire word. There are letter combinations, or contractions, that represent whole words without spelling out each letter in the word. This method reduces the overall number of cells needed and the volume of pages required to print books and other written content. To fit more information in documents or books, most printed braille materials use Grade 2 braille. Grade 2 braille allows for increased reading speed.

Grade 2 Braille Contractions:

grade 2 braille contractions

The braille alphabet has given individuals with blindness or low vision greater literacy, more opportunities for learning and education, and it enables greater independence and autonomy. Braille is a fundamental ingredient of independent living for individuals who are blind; in fact, many people who are blind or have low vision prefer to receive and read statements, documents, and textbooks in braille.

Braille Patterns

braille patterns 

When braille patterns are punched, the filled circles shown here correspond to punch impression.


braille punches

Braille Punctuation

braille punctuation

Braille Printing Services by T-Base

T-Base offers braille printing services adhering to Braille Authority of North America (BANA) standards, including its standard for Unified English Braille Code (UEB). Braille translation and braille printing services by T-Base ensures equal access to all types of printed books, textbooks, documents, and statements for individuals with blindness or low vision. Learn more about the faster, simpler way to create accessible print materials in UEB from T-Base.

Jeff Jullion

Author Jeff Jullion

Manager of Education Accessibility Communications  at T-Base Communications Inc.

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