Braille - as I see it!
The Braille square
10 patterns of dots
Creating the letters
Developing the invention
|"In braille, what letter is represented by three dots in a row?" That
question was asked in a pub quiz, Monday 30th September 2008. I had no idea what the answer was but I guessed
correctly, But that's all it was, just a guess! I was angry with myself for never having learnt the braille
alphabet. I had never seen braille in use nor had ever seen a book in braille. Despite nothing to
go on, I made up my mind to learn the alphabet and see where it led.
The public library seemed a good place to look for information and to find braille books. There was nothing!
There was a biography of Louis Braille but that only said he had invented an alphabet, not how he went about
it. Google searching, site after site, fared no better. There are an endless number of interesting comments,
but they say nothing to the point, and nobody has any idea what Louis Braille actually did. Here
follow some typical comments. They sound intimidating and complex, confusing rather than clarifying, and
likely to turn people away from braille.
- Louis worked with Barbier's basic ideas to develop his own simplified
system that we know today as braille. He based the code on the normal alphabet and reduced
the number of dots by half.
- Raising one or more of the six dots offered 63 possible
formations, enough to represent all letters
- These dots consisted of patterns in order to keep the
system easy to learn.
- Louis tried various modifications that would enable the
unique letter symbols to fit under one fingertip.
- by the variation of his top four dots he could show the
first ten letters of the alphabet. The next 10 letters, from K to T, were indicated by
hitting Point 3, the dot in the bottom left-hand corner. Addition of the sixth dot, Point
6, to all the previous signs gave him a further ten signs.
- After some slight modification it reached its present
form in 1834.
- Over a period of a few days he devised an alphabet
constructed entirely of six dots in different configurations, the position of each dot
determining the letter of the alphabet it represented.
- Over the next few months he experimented with different
systems until he found an ideal system using six dots.
- Over the next three years, Louis worked on simplifying
the system, which is how the 6-dot braille system came into being.
- After many years of experimenting, Louis Braille developed a successful
reading and writing system
- spent nine years developing and refining the system of raised dots