10 interesting things about Braille

Martina CavalieriDesign, Tech1 Comment

10 interesting things about Braille

Braille is a tactile writing system invented by Louis Braille (hence the name) in 1829 and is the alphabet used by  blind or visually impaired people.It is a writing system based on six raised dots in which most of the symbols are universally recognized, and then is used in different languages.

But there are many curiosities behind the name “braille”, below, you can find some examples:

1) The idea of this language was born from the meeting between Louis Braille and the artillery captain Charles Barbier who wanted to develop a code to allow the soldiers to decipher the military orders even in the absence of light. This code had two vertical columns of six points each: a maximum of twelve points for each symbol, to represent not  the individual letters of the alphabet, but rather combinations of the sounds of the French language; hence the definition of “sonographic method”. Braille learned about the code and made it a more readable and understandable language, transforming it in the version of the braille alphabet we know today. (via UICI Lucca)

2) Here are two “extended versions” of Braille: the first is called Nemeth Braille nd has developed a code for mathematics. Its inventor is Abraham Nemeth and this code can be used to transcribe math, algebra and calculus. The second is the musical code and it’s used by the blind to read and write musical notation.

3) Most people don’t know the Braille code. According to a survey by the National Federation of the Blind only ten percent of Americans with visual impairment can read Braille. Most visually impaired people use technology (like audio-books, voice synthesizers, etc.) to read and write.

4) Braille is not a language because it’s a representation of characters with special rules and multiple uses of each sign. In other words braille has been designed and developed to represent the symbols used in the typefaces and, for this reason can’t be recognized as a language.

5) In 1992, NASA gave the name “9969 Braille” to a small Mars-crossing asteroid in honor of Louis Braillle.

6) The Braille takes up much more space than a normal text, for example: “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” consists of 10 volumes in braille, the “New American Bible’’ is in 45 volumes and “Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary” is a shelf-hogging 72 volumes.

7) Braille take up much space than standard typefaces and in some cases it was introduced an alternative code called “contract Braille” or “Grade-2 Braille”. This system is quicker to read and write than uncontracted Braille because common words are abbreviated and also takes up less space.

8) There are the Braille “Olympics”. Every year the Braille Challenge, involves about 1400 blind students from the United States and Canada. These competitions are used to test the ability of students in the following categories: text comprehension, reading, proofreading and spelling. The competition winners will be awarded with a cash prize.

9) There’s a good reason why braille is on the keypad buttons of drive-through ATMs.That’s so passengers who are blind, travelling in the back seat of cars or taxis, can reach the ATM and independently make a transaction without assistance from the driver.

10) (Please note this point contains spoiler materials on the film “The Book of Eli”). In this movie Denzel Washington (Eli) plays a loner who wanders through a violent post-apocalyptic wasteland with the last known copy of the Bible. At the end of the film it turns out that the book is in Braille and Denzel’s character is blind.

(via: Perkins)

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Martina Cavalieri
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Martina Cavalieri

I’m a 26 years old Italian graphic designer with a passion for typography and company branding. I have an MA in Industrial and Graphic Design and I’m currently Graphic Designer at Horus.

In my spare time I write for my art blog called Martineken and I keep pursuing my interest by doing graphic concepts and mock-ups.
Martina Cavalieri
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Questo articolo è disponibile anche in: Italian