Have you ever ran your fingers across those raised bumps at the ATM or on a bathroom sign? Most people can recognize those bumps as braille, but do you know how braille is written or where is comes it from? In this week’s “How To”, we’re breaking down the origin of Braille, how we celebrate it and simple how to write braille tutorial.
What is Braille?
Braille is a tactile code system of reading and writing for people who are blind. Many people often mistake braille as a language of its own, however, the raised dots represent letters, numbers and punctuation and can be translated into several different languages.
This system that has revolutionized independent communication for people who are blind was created by Louis Braille. Louis Braille was a French educator who lost his sight at a young age.
The entire month of January is dedicated to raising awareness for Braille Literacy. Braille literacy is critical for people who are visually impaired. Literacy affects a person’s ability to understand what they are reading and ultimately can affect their quality of life. Additionally, in honor of Louis Braille birthday, every January 4th, we celebrate World Braille Day and the importance of accessibility and independence for people who are blind or visually impaired.
Today, you can see braille on everyday objects, like signs, calculators, board games and more. However, if you ever need to add it to an object or write a note, here is how you can learn to write in braille.
How To Write in Braille
There are two ways a person can write braille- you can use a braillewriter or a slate and stylus. The simplest way to make braille is to use a pointed stylus to push dots into paper. For this “How To”, we are using a slate and stylus.
1. Learn the code
As we said above, the raised bumps represent letters, numbers and punctuations. To understand how to write braille, you must know these symbols. Click here for a helpful book to use to learn or use as a reference.
2. Collect your tools
To write braille by hand you need a slate, stylus, and cardstock paper. You’ll want to use a cardstock to avoid ripping when creating the indents. The slate and stylus can be purchased online here.
3. Insert Paper
To get started, position the slate on a table, with the windows facing up and the hinge on the left. Open the slate, and line the paper up with the top edge. Ensure the paper is covering all guide pins. Now close the slate and push on the corners to press the guide pins into the paper. Paper is now properly secured in your slate, and you’re ready to start writing.
4. Writing Backwards
Because you will be punching dots on the reverse side of the paper, it’s important to write your letters backwards, from right to left. That way, when you turn over the paper to read your message, you will be able to read it correctly from left to right. Now, pick up the stylus in your dominant hand. If you are blind, you can use your other hand to guide your stylus to the correct cell window, and ultimately the correct position in the cell for each dot you punch. Start at the top-right cell window and use your stylus to punch dots in the paper. Each dot you punch will make up part of a Braille letter. When you have written your first letter, move to the cell window to the left of the first one, and punch out your next letter. Remember to write the letters in reverse. That is, if you want to write the letter K, which is dots 1 and 3, you should actually punch dots 4 and 6.