# Braille Tips

## Before You Start

If you’ve never read braille before, you will need to give your hands time to get used to the fine motor skills and tactile dexterity required. This process is called pre-braille and must be actively undertaken in order to have the best possible chances of success.

To strengthen hands and develop tracking, discriminating and fine motor skills, we recommend you endeavour to use your hands as often as possible. Make a point of counting and sorting small objects such as coins, threading beads, playing with lego, folding paper or fabric, sewing or knitting, kneading dough, buttering bread or chopping vegetables, for example.

After this, practice following things. If you can, ask someone to attach a thread to some paper, for example, and use your fingers to follow it along until you find a beed or other small object at the end of it. Identify what it is. Repeat this exercise several times each day, with different lengths and thicknesses of thread and different objects each time.

• Prepare your hands for reading: touch reading works best if your fingers are warm and dry. Washing your hands in warm water can help – but remember to dry them afterwards!
• Read with a gentle touch to enable your fingers to glide smoothly over the dots.
• Place your paper or braille display on a solid surface, such as a table or lap tray, for extra stability.

## The Braille Cell

Each braille character is made by arranging dots in a 2 by 3 grid known as the braille cell. Each dot position is numbered from 1 to 6: dot 1 in the top left hand corner; dot 4 top right; dots 2 and 3 below dot 1 and dots 5 and 6 below dot 4. Therefore, from top to bottom, dots are arranged as 1 and 4, 2 and 5, 3 and 6. You can use an egg box to represent the braille cell and small objects to represent dots. You might also use lego bricks.

## Remembering the Alphabet

For your reference, the dot combinations for the braille alphabet, pointers to help you remember the shape of each letter, the word that each letter represents in grade 2 and other associated contractions can be found in the table at the end of this section. Before that, though, here are some top tips:

• Confusing i and e: the word “ice” forms a bridge.
Letter Dot Combination Wordsign Dot 5 Dots 4-5 Dots 4-5-6 Dots 4-6 Dots 5-6 Dot 4 Tip
First Ten Letters
a 1 For All (∀) At (@) a single dot in the top left hand corner of the cell
b 1 2 but two dots on top of each other, similar in shape to a print uppercase B
c 1 4 can Copyright (©) cannot Cents (¢) horizontal line across the top of the cell
d 1 4 5 do day ound Partial Differential (∂) top right hand corner
e 1 5 every ever Element Of (∈) ance ence Euros (€) slopes down to the right – wee down a slide
f 1 2 4 from father Franks (₣) top left hand corner
g 1 2 4 5 go ong grid of four dots
h 1 2 5 have here had the profile of an armchair facing to the right
i 2 4 incline from middle left to top right
i in the sky
j 2 4 5 just Degrese (°) Empty Set (∅) the profile of an armchair facing to the left
Second Ten Letters – add dot 3 to the First Ten Letters
k 1 3 knowledge know
l 1 2 3 like lord ful Pounds (£) like a print lowercase l
m 1 3 4 more mother many
n 1 3 4 5 not name sion tion
o 1 3 5 one an arrow pointing towards the right
p 1 2 3 4 people part Paragraph (¶) like a print p
q 1 2 3 4 5 quite question all dots apart from 6
r 1 2 3 5 rather right Registered Trademark (®)
s 2 3 4 so some Section (§) spirit less ness Dollars (\$)
t 2 3 4 5 that time Trademark (™) ount ment
Final Six Letters – for all except w, add dot 6 to the Second Ten Letters; for w, add dot 6 to j
u 1 3 6 us under upon
v 1 2 3 6 very
w 2 4 5 6 will work word world
x 1 3 4 6 it Exit
y 1 3 4 5 6 you young Yen (¥) all dots apart from 2
z 1 3 5 6 as

### The Alphabet in Fingerprint Order

a, l, d;
t, e, m;
y, b, h;
o, c, k, s;
i, u;
j, n, v, x, r, f, p;
w, z, q

## Remembering Numbers and Mathematical Signs

The digits 1-0 are represented by the letters a-j. Unspaced sequences of digits are preceded by a single Numeric Indicator. Spaces between groups of digits, e.g. in a telephone number, are indicated by the Numeric Space. Commas and full stops, e.g. to separate thousands and indicate decimal points, are as in literary braille and the Numeric Indicator is not restated.

Sign Dot Combination Tip
Numeric Indicator 3 4 5 6 Backwards v
Numeric Space 5
Plus (+) 5, 2 3 5 Dot 5 lower f
Minus (−) 5, 36 dot 5 lower c, or dot 5 hyphen
Multiplication (×) 5, 2 3 6 Dot 5 lower h
Equals (=) 5, 2 3 5 6 Dot 5 lower g
Simple Fraction Line 3 4 st sign, like a slash
Superscript 3 5 in sign, going upwards
Subscript 2 6 en sign, going downwards
Per Cent (%) 4 6, 3 5 6 4-6 lower j

## Remembering Contractions

• Confusing and and y: the name “andy” makes a box.
• Confusing of and with:
• of is on the o side, with is on the w side
• Think of with as a w with an added dot 3
• There is no dot 1 in with – so with has no “1” to play with
• Confusing there and their: here, there and where are all directions and all dot 5 words
• For dots 4-5: upon my word, whose are these and those?
• For dots 4-5-6: many in this world cannot have had their spirit
Contraction Dot Combination Wordsign Dot 5 Dots 4-5 Dots 4-5-6 Dots 4-6 Dots 5-6 (grade 1 meaning) Dot 4
and 1 2 3 4 6 Ampersand (&)
for 1 2 3 4 5 6 Dot Locator
of 1 2 3 5 6 Opening General Fraction Indicator
the 2 3 4 6 there these their Integral
with 2 3 4 5 6 Closing General Fraction Indicator
ch 1 6 child character
gh 1 2 6 Opening (Left) Parenthesis (Round Bracket) (() Opening (Left) Brace ({) Opening (Left) Square Bracket ([) Opening Braille Grouping Indicator Less Than (<)
sh 1 4 6 shall Square Root (√)
th 1 4 5 6 this through those
wh which where whose
ed 1 2 4 6
er 1 2 4 5 6
ou 1 2 5 6 out ought Arrow Mode
ow 2 4 6
ar 3 4 5 Closing (Right) Parenthesis (Round Bracket) ()) Closing (Right) Brace (}) Closing (Right) Square Bracket (]) Closing Braille Grouping Indicator Greater Than (>)
ing 3 4 6
Dot Combination Standing Alone Start of Sequence Mid-Sequence End of Sequence Tip
2 Comma (,) ea Comma (,)
2 3 be bb Semicolon (;) Lower b
2 5 Colon (:)/td> con cc Colon (:) Middle c
2 5 6 Full Stop or Period (.) dis Full Stop or Period (.) Lower d
2 6 enough en Lower e
2 3 5 Exclamation Mark (!) ff Exclamation Mark (!) Lower f. Exclamation Mark: “flipping heck!”
2 3 5 6 were gg Lower g
2 3 6 his Opening (Left) Double Quotation Mark (Speech Mark) (“) Question Mark (?) Lower h. Question Mark: “huh?”
3 5 in Lower i
3 5 6 was Closing (Right) Double Quotation Mark (Speech Mark) (”) Lower j

## Remembering Punctuation

For your reference, the dot combinations for common punctuation signs not already listed elsewhere, alongside pointers to help you remember the shape of each sign, can be found below:

Punctuation Symbol Dot Combination Tip
Apostrophe 3 Lower a
Hyphen 3 6 Lower c
Dash 6, 3 6 Dot 6 lower c
Long Dash 5, 6, 36 Dot 5, dot 6, lower c
Single Quotation Marks (Opening and Closing) ‘ ’ 6, 2 3 6 and 6, 3 5 6 Dot 6 lower h and dot 6 lower j
Asterisk * 5, 3 5 Dot 5 in sign
Dagger 4, 6, 1 4 5 6 Dot 4, dot 6, th sign

## Remembering Special Formatting

Remember:

• A symbol is, e.g. a single letter or item of punctuation
• A word is an unspaced sequence
• A passage is a sequence of three or more words
• A passage must be terminated by a terminator. The terminator may also be used to terminate mid-word.

Indicator Dot Combination Tip
Symbol Word Passage Terminator
Capitalisation 6 6, 6 6, 6, 6 6, 3
Grade 1 5 6 5 6, 5 6 5 6, 5 6, 5 6 5 6, 3
Italics 4 6, 2 3 4 6, 2 4 6, 2 3 5 6 4 6, 3
Bold 4 5, 2 3 4 5, 2 4 5, 2 3 5 6 4 5, 3 Like a b, but in the other half of the cell
Underline 4 5 6, 2 3 4 5 6, 2 4 5 6, 2 3 5 6 4 5 6, 3