What is Braille?


Braille is the name of the system of raised bumps that help people who cannot see to read using touch instead of sight! Since they are often unable to adequately see written letters, people who are blind or visually impaired sometimes read a special form of writing called Braille!

Braille uses small bumps felt by the tip of the finger to tell a person what letter or group of letters is being represented. It works on the idea that every letter fills a "cell," where there can be up to six dots lined up in two columns and three rows. Every letter "A" through "Z," as well as numbers, punctuation, and some symbols or word contractions are represented by an assigned combination of those dots! For example, the letter "C" is made up of just the top two dots in a cell, while the letter "X" is made up of just the four dots in the corners of the cell!

Louis Braille, a young blind student at the National Institute for Blind Youth in Paris, created the Braille system in the 1800s while he was only a teenager! His system was so successful that it's still named after him today, and is used as the primary reading and writing system for blind and visually impaired people all around the world!

(by Mya Kagan)


Bump it up!

See if you can get a Braille book from the store or the library, and then take a look at a Braille "translation key." Spend some time with the "translation key" trying to learn some of the Braille letters! When you look in the book written in Braille, are you able to recognize any words? What would the spelling of your name look like in Braille? Even if you can't create it in bumps, try at least just drawing it out with dots!

Further Information

Before Braille was invented, there were other similar writing systems that used letters or symbols in raised forms, although over time Braille became the preferred system.