Braille and Tactile Consumables

Braille consumables are available in a range of sizes and materials from a handful of suppliers. This page aims to provide a comprehensive catalogue. If you think something is missing from this page or you would like to report an inaccuracy, please email [email protected].

Products on this page are organised by size. Where multiple materials are listed, each material has a specific use. Please check the glossary below for further information.

Prices exclude VAT and are subject to change without notice.

Glossary

  • Brailon (thermoform) is an opaque, heavy duty plastic sheet which is designed to be melted, sucked down and set over a paper master in a special vacuum forming machine. The two sheets can be pulled apart at the end of the process. The paper master acts as a mould and the thermoform is effectively a photocopy. The sheets can also be inserted directly into a braille writing machine, such as a Perkins Brailler or hand frame, although the melting and setting process slightly changes the texture of the sheet so it will not feel quite the same if it is used directly. The advantage of brailling on plastic is that it is much harder to scrub out the dots and the plastic can be washed, so this material is ideal for recipes. However, some braillists may struggle to read it for extended periods of time as the plastic can cause excessive sweating.
  • Capsule paper (also known as PIAF paper, swell paper, Zy®tex2 paper or minolta paper) contains small capsules which, when exposed to concentrated heat, react with black ink and burst to form a raised relief. It is therefore a convenient paper for producing tactile diagrams.
  • Embossing film, also known as German Film, is essentially a much thinner version of Brailon. When placed on top of a rubber mat or other suitable surface, a ball point pen or stylus can be pressed firmly against it and used to draw tactile lines. These tactile diagrams are not as durable as capsule paper diagrams.
  • Self-adhesive sheets (sticky back plastic) can be inserted directly into a braille machine, cut to size and used for labelling. The adhesive is covered by a removable plastic backing sheet. Labels can be of any size up to the size of the sheet and can therefore include, for example, messages in greetings cards or information on certificates.

Cut Sheets

Perkins

This measures 11½×11″, 3″ wider than standard US Letter size (8½×11″), and was specifically designed for the Perkins braille writer. It accommodates roughly 27 lines of 42 cells.

A UK approximation of Perkins braille paper, measuring 29×28 cm, is available from RNIB in a range of configurations:

Stainsby and Small Stainsby

These sizes of paper were created for use in the Stainsby and Small Stainsby machines. The machines themselves are no longer available. Noet that, although the width of the Stainsby sheet is in common with the length of the Small Stainsby sheet, a saddle stitched Stainsby sheet is smaller than two Small Stainsby pages. RNIB is currently the only supplier of this size of paper.

The Stainsby sheet measures 25.5×34 cm and accommodates roughly 32 lines of 38 cells. Its closest mainstream equivalent is B4.

Plastic embossing film is available in a slightly enlarged Stainsby format measuring 27×34 cm.

The Small Stainsby sheet measures 23.5×25.5 cm and accommodates roughly 23 lines of 34 cells in portrait orientation and 20 lines of 38 cells in landscape orientation.

Other Special Sizes

All available from RNIB:

The RNIB Braille Indexed Address Book and Braille Pocket Organiser take sheets measuring 9×14 cm. Comparable Brailon is also available, measuring 9×13 cm.

A special size of 19×26 cm is also available. This accommodates roughly 24 lines of 27 cells in portrait orientation and 16 lines of 38 cells in landscape orientation.

Standard Sizes (A4, A3, A5 and B4)

A4 measures 21×29.7 cm and accommodates roughly 28 lines of 34 cells.

In order to accommodate the limited clamp positions of some entry level braille thermoforming equipment, a Brailon sheet measuring 24.5×29 cm should be used when producing thermoform copies of A4 masters.

A3 measures 42×29.7 cm and accommodates roughly 28 lines of 68 cells. It is typically used in braille embossers with a saddle stitch capability, I.E. folded down the middle to form two pages of A4. It may also be used to produce tactile diagrams which would otherwise need to span multiple pages of A4.

A5 measures 14.8×21 cm. A saddle stitched A4 sheet forms two pages of A5.

B4 measures 25×35.3 cm.

US Standard Sizes (Letter and Ledger/Tabloid)

Standard US Letter size is 8½×11″ and akin to A4.

Standard US Ledger/Tabloid size is 11×17″ and akin to A3. It is typically used in braille embossers with a saddle stitch capability, I.E. folded down the middle to form two pages of Standard US Letter size. It may also be used to produce tactile diagrams which would otherwise need to span multiple pages of Standard US Letter size.

Index Cards

3×5″ index cards can be used with the Janus Interline Braille Frame. RNIB supplies braille paper of this size:

Regular index cards of this size can also be used and purchased from many mainstream suppliers. For example:

Continuous (Tractor Fed) Paper

This paper is for use in some domestic braille embossers. It has sprocket holes punched at ½″ intervals down each side of the page, and perferations at regular intervals so that the continuous ream of paper can be easily torn into separate sheets.

Due to the specifications of the tractor mechanism, the length of this paper is always measured in inches, but there is no restriction on the unit of measure for the width. The width is generally measured inclusive of sprocket holes, which may or may not be perferated to allow detachment.

Some paper with detachable sprocket holes may feature an inner row of punching, e.g. 4-hole punching for ring binders or 19-hole punching for comb binders, which becomes useful once the sprocket holes are removed.

Note that, although paper from different suppliers may have the same core dimentions, there may be minor differences in the width of detachable sprocket holes or the distance between the outer edge and the sprockets. We therefore do not recommend mixing papers from different suppliers, particularly in a single production run.

Also note that the widths of detachable sprocket holes may not be the same on either side of the paper. The severity of the difference varies depending on the type of paper and may be bearly noticeable in some cases. Take particular care when changing paper part way through a production run, as differences may become more noticeable post-production. In general, we recommend orienting the paper with the narrower sprockets down the left hand side of the paper in order to maximise the width of the binding margin.

All paper in this section weighs 135 GSM with the exception of self-adhesive plastic.

12×12″

This paper, with sprockets removed, is close in size to Perkins paper in portrait orientation.

This paper from RNIB is effectively the same size once sprockets are removed, although it is closer to 12×11.5″ (30 cm width) gross.

11″×32.3 cm

This paper from RNIB, with sprockets removed, is close in size to Perkins paper in landscape orientation.

13″×30 cm

This paper from RNIB is effectively the same width as 12×12″ paper (BP31 in particular), but with a slightly longer length. It is useful, for example, when a full 12×12″ page needs to be reproduced verbatim but with explanatory notes or guide dots at the top or bottom, as in some braille teaching books. Some braillists also prefer the extra page length for tables.

12×9.5″

This paper, with sprockets removed, is the closest in size to A4 paper that is readily available.

the following paper from Techno-Vision Systems Ltd has an unusually wide detachable sprocket on one side such that, when the sprockets are detached, the resulting width is exactly 21 cm (A4). The length, however, is of course still fractionally longer.

11×9.5″

This size is an extension of the Standard US Letter size (8.5×11″). Techno-Vision Systems sell continuous (tractor feed) self-adhesive labelling sheets in this format:

Tactile Graph Paper

The following types are available from RNIB. The sizes are that of BP31 (30.5×30 cm) and each pack of 50 sheets costs £6.00.

Binders and Notebooks

All available from RNIB:

Labelling Tape

The RNIB Braille Labeller accepts rolls of labelling tape in both 9 mm and 12 mm widths. 9 mm tape is only fractionally wider than a braille line, so the margins are extremely narrow. 12 mm tape has a wider margin and may be easier to handle.

The 6dot Braille Label Maker only accepts 9 mm tape; some braille frames work best with 12 mm tape. Please check the specifications of your writing equipment before purchasing.

The following products are available in packs of 10 rolls from RNIB for £16.99:

You should also be able to use 9 mm or 12 mm labelling tape from any mainstream supplier, provided the diameter of the roll is small enough to fit the labelling machine. In general, a 3 m roll or smaller is recommended.

Other Tactile Products

These products can be used on their own or in conjunction with other products to add tactile markings.

Bumpons

These are relatively large, rubber bumps with a self-adhesive back. In essense, they are conceptually the same as mainstream products along the lines of “Soft Close Stop Dots” for a kitchen cupboard. Such mainstream products can be procured extremely cheaply and may prove to be sufficient. For example:

However, mainstream sizes and colour contrasts may be limited. RNIB therefore sells a range of shapes and sizes in separate packs:

A multipack is also available:

Touch-Dots

These are similar to bumpons, but in foam. RNIB sells the following:

Loc Dots

These are considerably smaller than Bumpons and ideal for fine tactile marking, such as keys on a computer keyboard. RNIB sells the following packs of 6 dots for £2.99:

Tacti-Mark

This is a liquid plastic not dissimilar to tulip paint which comes in a fine-nozzled bottle, so it can be precisely applied to appliances in order to create tactile markings. It sets hard after approximately 24 hours. It is available from RNIB for £4.40 as follows:

WikkiStix

These are thin wax sticks resembling a candle wick. They bend easily and adhere to paper and other solid objects, so can be used to create basic tactile diagrams. Various colours and lengths are available and long sticks can easily be cut down to a shorter size.

They are a mainstream product with a website at wikkistix.com. They are also available from a range of mainstream and specialist suppliers. For example: