Sign Stories Blog

What Is Braille?

Posted by Frank Murch | Dec 22, 2015 8:00:00 AM

What Is Braille? Braille is a series of raised readable by touch. It is an alphabet, and has a series of shortcut for common words. Braille is unique to the language of the reader (English Braille is different than French Braille). There are regional variations as well. California specifies a different set of rules than the rest of the US.ADA_braille_side.jpg

What Does Braille Look Like? Braille has groupings of dots knows as cells. Generally one cell is one letter. Each cell has space for six raised dots in two parallel rows, 3 dots per row. So for each 3 dot row there can be 0, or 3 (in the 123 position), dot can be in the number 1, or 2 or 3 position or 2 dots in the 12, 23, or 13 position – that is 8 ways. There are 2 rows so 8 X 8 is 64. There are 64 possible combinations. Each cell is a letter, number, punctuation mark, or certain common word.

Where did the name “Braille” come from?Louis Brailleinvented the system and it carries his name. He was a Frenchman and was born in 1809. He invented the Braille system at the National Institute for Blind Youth in Paris, France. It is loosely based off a system used night writing code invented by Charles Barbier for sending military messages that could be read on the battlefield at night, without light.

How Is Braille Written? There are three grades.

Grade 1 is where the word in spelled out. This is mainly seen in labeling. Kitchen and personal items use Grade 1 Braille.

Grade 2 braille is used inADA Sign text – it is shortened. It is also known as “literary Braille” So here is a text example in Grade 1

There is a Grade 3 Braille – it has more shorthand words (about 300) and it mostly for personal correspondence.



you             like           him

But the same thing written in Grade 2 is shortened because common worlds are shortened. The letters y and l are used for letters AND shorthand for the common words you and like.




you       like       him

Grade 2 uses (in English) 189 different letter contractions and 76 short-form words. These short cuts make Braille shorter and faster. Braille (unlike a letter and a Font) Braille sizes can not be reduced as much. Each letter still needs to be big enough to feel – this is much larger than what we commonly see.

So the blind starts learning Grade 1 and then switches to Grade 2 as they become more advanced.

There are 4 ways to write Braille:

  1. By hand - There is a slate and stylus. The slate has 6 holes or depressions and the stylus is used to push paper into the holes – easy and slow.
  2. Typewriter - There is a typewriter but it has only 6 keys for the 6 dotsADA_Braille_Beads.png
  3. Word Processor - There is a machine that is really a word processor.
  4. CNC router - For signs, a CNC router is used and holes are cut where the letters are needed, then small plastic balls are dropped into these holes – pressed (or glued) is. The result in very clear, rounded domes that are ideal for touch.

So now you know what Is Braille? There was a Frenchman named Braille that related a series of 6 dots to the alphabet and numbers. Then over time there is a short hand that shortened this for readability.

Contact us for a consultation


Topics: ADA sign Placement, Where ADA Signs are required, ADA, ADA Signs San Marcos CA, ADA Signs Oceanside CA, ADA Signs Escondido CA, ADA Signs Vista CA, ADA Signs Carlsbad CA, ADA Signs San Clamente CA, ADA Signs Dana Point CA


Whether you need a channel letter set, a monument signs, ADA signs, wayfinding signs, lobby signs, or any other type of commercial building signage, we can help! Signs for San Diego is the best sign company for building signs.


Subscribe to Email Updates

Recent Posts

Posts by Topic

see all