A French man named Louis Braille first developed Braille in 1870’s by modifying the military night writing system. Prior to this, raised print letters were used to teach the blind but Braille not only proved to be easier and a quicker way to learn, but also made it possible for two-way communication. As such, Braille is a major tool for the visually impaired and they use their fifth sense of touch through it. The sense of seeing or the sense of touch are both received by the brain as raw data and are processed to form a reaction. Braille books, newspapers or any reading material consists of series raised dots, which encodes alphabets, numerical and punctuation marks. Braille usually encodes English and Spanish language even though almost any language can be encoded.
How is Braille Used?
Braille is accessible to anyone regardless of eye sight since you use your sense of touch. Braille books do not look like normal books. The pages do not lie over each other smoothly but are raised due to the elevated dots. Since the usage of raised dots makes the books quite heavy, abbreviations are often used and Braille with complete words is called grade 1 braille, or uncontracted, and with abbreviations it is called grade 2 braille or contracted.
How is Braille Written?
Just like normal writing, Braille can be written, printed or translated. A stylus and slate are to Braille like pencil and paper are to normal writing. A paper is place on the slate, which consists of evenly spaced dots and the pointed tip of the stylus is used to create depressions while the writer uses the slate as a guide.
Another method of writing Braille is by using a typewriter, which is similar to conventional typewriters. Braille typewriter has six keys and one space bar and can be pressed together, individually or in combination to form a letter, word or other Braille symbols.
The third and the most technical, and quickest method is printing Braille. Just like we would print from a computer, braille documents can be printed using a Braille embosser.
Limitations to Braille
As technology has advanced, educators at blind foundations tend to be more bent towards audio teaching. Although Braille is a more effective method of writing, solving math and learning foreign language, children are more captivated by audio. Another limitation is that there is a lack of text and publication in braille available for readers.