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Braille
Type Alphabet (non-linear writing)
Spoken languages Several
Created by Louis Braille
Time period 1821 to the present
Parent systems
Night writing
  • Braille
Unicode range U+2800 to U+28FF
ISO 15924 Brai
Note: This page may contain IPA phonetic symbols in Unicode.
Braille code where the word ⠏⠗⠑⠍⠊⠑⠗ (premier, French for "first") can be read.
This audio file was created from a revision dated 2006-09-06, and does not reflect subsequent edits to the article. (Audio help)
More spoken articles

The Braille system is a method that is widely used by blind people to read and write. Braille was devised in 1821 by Louis Braille, a blind Frenchman. Each Braille character or cell is made up of six dot positions, arranged in a rectangle containing two columns of three dots each. A dot may be raised at any of the six positions to form sixty-four (26) possible subsets, including the arrangement in which no dots are raised. For reference purposes, a particular permutation may be described by naming the positions where dots are raised, the positions being universally numbered 1 to 3, from top to bottom, on the left, and 4 to 6, from top to bottom, on the right. For example, dots 1-3-4 would describe a cell with three dots raised, at the top and bottom in the left column and on top of the right column, i.e., the letter m. The lines of horizontal Braille text are separated by a space, much like visible printed text, so that the dots of one line can be differentiated from the Braille text above and below. Punctuation is represented by its own unique set of characters.

The Braille system was based on a method of communication originally developed by Charles Barbier in response to Napoleon's demand for a code that soldiers could use to communicate silently and without light at night called night writing. Barbier's system was too complex for soldiers to learn, and was rejected by the military. In 1821 he visited the National Institute for the Blind in Paris, France, where he met Louis Braille. Braille identified the major failing of the code, which was that the human finger could not encompass the whole symbol without moving, and so could not move rapidly from one symbol to another. His modification was to use a 6 dot cell — the Braille system — which revolutionized written communication for the blind.

Contents

The Braille alphabet

Braille can be seen as the world's first binary encoding scheme for representing the characters of a writing system. The system as originally invented by Braille consists of two parts:

  1. A character encoding for mapping characters of the French language to tuples of six bits or dots.
  2. A way of representing six-bit characters as raised dots in a Braille cell.

Today different Braille codes (or code pages) are used to map character sets of different languages to the six bit cells. Different Braille codes are also used for different uses like mathematics and music. However, because the six-dot Braille cell only offers 63 possible combinations (26 - 1 = 63), of which some are omitted because they feel the same (having the same dots pattern in a different position), many Braille characters have different meanings based on their context. Therefore, character mapping is not one-to-one.

In addition to simple encoding, modern Braille transcription uses contractions to increase reading speed. (See: Grade 2 Braille)

Writing Braille

Braille may be produced using a slate and stylus in which each dot is created from the back of the page, writing in mirror image, by hand, or it may be produced on a Braille typewriter or Perkins Brailler, or produced by a Braille embosser attached to a computer. It may also be rendered using a refreshable Braille display.

Braille has been extended to an 8-dot code, particularly for use with Braille embossers and refreshable Braille displays. In 8-dot Braille the additional dots are added at the bottom of the cell, giving a matrix 4 dots high by 2 dots wide. The additional dots are given the numbers 7 (for the lower-left dot) and 8 (for the lower-right dot). Eight-dot Braille has the advantages that the case of an individual letter is directly coded in the cell containing the letter and that all the printable ASCII characters can be represented in a single cell. All 256 (28) possible combination of 8 dots are encoded by the Unicode standard. Braille with six dots is frequently stored as Braille ASCII.

The first ten letters of the alphabet and the digits 1 through 10 are formed using only the top four dots (1, 2, 4, and 5). Adding dot 3 forms the next ten letters, and adding dot 6 forms the last six letters (except w) and the words and, for, of, the, and with. Omitting dot 3 from the letters U-Z and the five word symbols form nine digraphs (ch, gh, sh, th, wh, ed, er, ou, and ow) and the letter w.

Letters and numbers

Other symbols

Note:

* The question mark is represented by dots 2-3-6—the same as the opening quotation mark. Therefore the placement of the dots—before a word or after a word—will determine which symbol it is.

* Opening and closing parentheses are shown with the same symbol. Therefore, the placement context will determine whether the parentheses is opening or closing.

Grade 2 Braille contractions

This is just a small sample of some of the contractions that are used in Grade 2 Braille. More information about Grade 2 Braille is below in the section on Braille transcription.

Braille also includes a number of whole word contractions, for example the word Braille becomes a three cell word brl.

Unicode rendering table

This article contains special characters. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols.

The Unicode standard encodes 8-dot Braille glyphs according to their binary appearance, rather than following the alphabetic order of any particular convention. Unicode defines the "Braille Patterns" character block in the hex codepoint range from 2800 to 28FF.

Braille Letter
A 1
B 2
C 3
D 4
E 5
F 6
G 7
H 8
I 9
J 0
K
L
M
N
O
P
Q
R
S
Braille Letter
T
U
V
W
X
Y
Z
Capital sign
Number sign
Period
Comma
Question mark
Semicolon
Exclamation point
Opening quote
Closing quote
Bracket
Hyphen
Apostrophe

Literacy

A sighted child who is reading at a basic level should be able to understand common words and answer simple questions about the information presented.[1] They should also have enough fluency to get through the material in a timely manner. Over the course of a child's education, these foundations are built upon in order to teach higher levels of math, science, and comprehension skills.[1] Children that are blind, not only have the educational disadvantage of not being able to see, they also miss out on the very fundamental parts of early and advanced education if not provided with the necessary tools.

Braille literacy statistics

In 1960, 50% of legally blind, school-age children were able to read Braille in the U.S.[2][3] According to the 2007 Annual Report from the American Printing House for the Blind, there are approximately 57,696 legally blind children in the U.S. Out of those school-age children, only 10% use Braille as their primary reading medium.[4]

There are numerous causes for the decline in Braille usage, including school budget constraints, technology advancement, and different philosophical views over how blind children should be educated.[5]

A key turning point for Braille literacy was the passage of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, an act of Congress that moved thousands of children from specialized schools for the blind into mainstream public schools.[3] Because only a small percentage of public schools could afford to train and hire Braille-qualified teachers, Braille literacy has declined since the law took effect.[3] Braille literacy rates have improved slightly since the bill was passed, in part because of pressure from consumers and advocacy groups that have led 27 states to pass legislation mandating that children who are legally blind be given the opportunity to learn Braille.[5]

In 1998-99 there were approximately 55,200 legally blind children, but only 5,500 of them used Braille as their primary reading medium.[6][7] Early Braille education is crucial to literacy for a visually impaired child. A study conducted in the state of Washington found that people who learned Braille at an early age did just as well, if not better than their sighted peers in several areas, including vocabulary and comprehension. In the preliminary adult study, while evaluating the correlation between adult literacy skills and employment, it was found that 44% of the participants who had learned to read in Braille were unemployed, compared to the 77% unemployment rate of those who had learned to read using print.[8] Currently, among the estimated 85,000 blind adults in the United States, 90% of those who are Braille literate are employed. Among adults who do not know Braille, only 1 in 3 is employed.[3] Statistically, history has proven that Braille reading proficiency provides an essential skill set that allows visually impaired children not only to compete with their sighted peers in a school environment, but also later in life as they enter the workforce.[5]

Though Braille is thought to be the main way blind people read and write, in Britain (for example) out of the reported 2 million visually impaired population, it is estimated that only around 15-20 thousand people use Braille. Younger people are turning to electronic text on computers with screen reader software instead, a more portable communication method that they can also use with their friends. A debate has started on how to make Braille more attractive and for more teachers to be available to teach it.

Braille transcription

Braille Writer
Braille on a box of tablets
Braille book and the same book in common letters

Although it is possible to transcribe Braille by simply substituting the equivalent Braille character for its printed equivalent, such a character-by-character transcription (known as Grade 1 Braille) is used only by beginners.

Braille characters are much larger than their printed equivalents, and the standard 11" by 11.5" (28 cm × 30 cm) page has room for only 25 lines of 43 characters. To reduce space and increase reading speed, virtually all Braille books are transcribed in what is known as Grade 2 Braille, which uses a system of contractions to reduce space and speed the process of reading. As with most human linguistic activities, Grade 2 Braille embodies a complex system of customs, styles, and practices. The Library of Congress's Instruction Manual for Braille Transcribing runs to nearly 200 pages. Braille transcription is skilled work, and Braille transcribers need to pass certification tests.

In English, the system of Grade 2 Braille contractions begins with a set of 23 words which are contracted to single characters. Thus the word but is contracted to the single letter b, can to c, do to d, and so on. Even this simple rule creates issues requiring special cases; for example, d is, specifically, an abbreviation of the verb do; the noun do representing the note of the musical scale is a different word, and must be spelled out.

Portions of words may be contracted, and many rules govern this process. For example, the character with dots 2-3-5 (the letter "f" lowered in the Braille cell) stands for "ff" when used in the middle of a word. At the beginning of a word, this same character stands for the word "to" although the character is written in Braille with no space following it; this contraction was removed in the Unified English Braille Code. At the end of a word, the same character represents an exclamation point.

One problem that can occur when reading Grade 2 Braille is that some contractions are closely similar, even when the words are not. One example compares the contractions "ll", meaning little, and "lr", meaning letter from Barry Hampshire's "Working with Braille".[9] The braille notation for the letter "r" differs only by adding one dot to the letter "l". This causes greater confusion between words that are not as similar in normal print and can hinder the learning process of Grade 2 Braille.

The contraction rules take into account the linguistic structure of the word; thus, contractions are not to be used when their use would alter the usual Braille form of a base word to which a prefix or suffix has been added. And some portions of the transcription rules are not fully codified and rely on the judgment of the transcriber. Thus, when the contraction rules permit the same word in more than one way, preference is given to "the contraction that more nearly approximates correct pronunciation."

Grade 3 Braille is a system that includes many additional contractions, almost a shorthand; it is not used for publication, but is used mostly for individuals for their personal convenience.

Braille reading techniques

Since Braille is one of the few writing systems where tactile perception is used, as opposed to visual perception, a Braille reader must develop new skills. One skill important for Braille readers is the ability to create smooth and even pressures when running one's fingers along the words. There are many different styles and techniques used for the understanding and development of Braille, even though a study by B. F. Holland [10] suggests that there is no specific technique that is superior to any other.

Another study by Lowenfield & Abel [11] shows that Braille could be read "the fastest and best... by students who read using the index fingers of both hands." Another important reading skill emphasized in this study is to finish reading the end of a line with the right hand and to find the beginning of the next line with the left hand simultaneously. One final conclusion drawn by both Lowenfield and Abel is that children have difficulty using both hands independently where the right hand is the dominant hand. But this hand preference does not correlate to other activities.

Braille for other scripts

See main articles: Hebrew braille, Japanese braille, Korean braille, Vietnamese braille, Tibetan braille, and Chinese braille.
Braille plate in Duftrosengarten in Rapperswil, Switzerland

There are many extensions of Braille for additional letters with diacritics, such as ç, ô, é.

When Braille is adapted to languages that do not use the Latin alphabet, the blocks are generally assigned to the new alphabet according to how it is transliterated into the Latin alphabet. The alphabetic order of the national script (and therefore the natural order of Latin Braille) is disregarded. Such is the case with Russian, Greek, Hebrew, Arabic, and Chinese. In Greek, for example, gamma is written as Latin g, despite the fact that it has the alphabetic position of c; Hebrew bet, the second letter of the alphabet and cognate with the Latin letter b, is sometimes pronounced /b/ and sometimes /v/, and is written b or v accordingly; Russian ts is written as c, which is the usual letter for /ts/ in those Slavic languages that use the Latin alphabet; and Arabic f is written as f, despite being historically p, and occurring in that part of the Arabic alphabet (between historic o and q). Esperanto letters with circumflexes, ĉ, ĝ, ĥ, ĵ and ŝ, are written as those letters without circumflexes with a filled sixth dot. Therefore the letter ĵ has the same representation as the English w and to write a w in Esperanto, the dot 3 is filled (dots 2-3-4-5-6 are used for w instead of dots 2-4-5-6) The ŭ, used in Esperanto also, is as the u but the first dot is moved to the fourth place.

Greater differences occur in Chinese Braille. In the case of Mandarin Braille, which is based on Zhuyin rather than the Latin Pinyin alphabet, the traditional Latin Braille values are used for initial consonants and the simple vowels. However, on Latin Braille for many of the initial consonants and simple vowels (based on romanizations of a century ago), but the blocks pull double duty, with different values depending on whether they're placed in syllable-initial or syllable-final position. For instance, the block for Latin k represents old-style Cantonese k (g in Yale and other modern romanizations) when initial, but aak when final, while Latin j represents Cantonese initial j but final oei.

At least three adaptations of Braille have completely reassigned the Latin sound values of the blocks: Japanese Braille, Korean Braille, and Tibetan Braille. In Japanese Braille, alphabetic signs for a consonant and vowel are combined into a single syllabic block; in Korean Braille, the consonants have different syllable-initial and syllable-final forms. These modifications made Braille much more compatible with Japanese kana and Korean hangul but meant that the Latin sound values could not be maintained.

Uses

The current series of Canadian banknotes have raised dots on the banknotes that indicate the denomination and can be easily identified by visually impaired people; this 'tactile feature' does not use standard Braille but, instead, a system developed in consultation with blind and visually impaired Canadians after research indicated that not all potential users read Braille.

Mexican bank notes also have special raised symbols to make them identifiable by the visually impaired.

In India there are instances where the parliament acts have been published in Braille too. For example 'The Right to Information Act'

See also

Braille for other languages

References

  1. ^ a b Dr. Grover (Russ) Whitehurst, Research: Evidence Based Education Science and the Challenge of Learning to Read, http://www.childrenofthecode.org/, retrieved 2009-04-20 
  2. ^ American Foundation for the Blind: Programs and Policy Research, "Estimated Number of Adult Braille Readers in the United States", International Braille Research Center (IBRC), http://www.braille.org/papers/jvib0696/vb960329.htm, retrieved 2009-04-15 
  3. ^ a b c d Ranalli, Ralph (2008), "A Boost for Braille", The Boston Globe, http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2008/01/05/a_boost_for_braille/, retrieved 2009-04-17 
  4. ^ American Printing House for the Blind (2008), "Facts and Figures on Americans with Vision Loss", American Foundation for the Blind, http://www.afb.org/Section.asp?SectionID=15&DocumentID=4398, retrieved 2009-04-16 
  5. ^ a b c Riles, Ruby, "The Impact of Braille Reading Skills on Employment, Income, Education, and Reading Habits", Braille Research Center, http://www.braille.org/papers/jvib0696/vb960311.htm, retrieved 2009-04-15 
  6. ^ American Printing House for the Blind (A.P.H.) (1999), APH maintains an annual register of legally blind persons in educational settings below the college level, http://www.aph.org, retrieved 2009-04-15 
  7. ^ Ebnet, Matthew (2001), "Braille Challenge Gives Young Blind Students a Chance to Shine", Los Angeles Times, http://articles.latimes.com/2001/jun/30/local/me-16960, retrieved 2009-04-15 
  8. ^ Riles Ph.D., Ruby (2004), "Research Study: Early Braille Education Vital", Future Reflections, http://www.nfb.org/Images/nfb/Publications/fr/fr14/fr04se22.htm, retrieved 2009-04-15 
  9. ^ Hampshire, Barry. Working with Braille. Paris: Unesco P, 1981.
  10. ^ B.F. Holland, 'Speed and Pressure Factors in Braille Reading', Teachers Forum, Vol. 7, September 1934 p. 13-17
  11. ^ B. Lowenfield and G. L. Abel, Methods of Teaching Braille Reading Efficiency of Children in Lower Senior Classes. Birmingham, Research Centre for the Education of the Visually Handicapped, 1977

External links

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Documents

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Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also braille, and braillé

Contents

English

Pronunciation

Noun

Braille or (especially US) braille

  1. A system of writing invented by Louis Braille, in which letters and some combinations of letters are represented by raised dots arranged in three rows of two dots each and are read by the blind and partially sighted using the fingertips.

Translations

Adjective

Braille (not comparable)

Positive
Braille

Comparative
not comparable

Superlative
none (absolute)

  1. Of, relating to or written in Braille.

See also

Anagrams


Dutch

Noun

Braille

  1. Braille

Spanish

Proper noun

Braille m.

  1. Braille

Simple English

File:DSC
This Braille spells "premier" which is French for first

The Braille system is a way of writing things. It is named after Louis Braille, the French man who invented it. Today, the system is used by blind people to read and write. The Braille system uses an alphabet of letters, or characters. Each character is made of a series of dots that rise out of the paper in a special pattern. Blind people read braille by using their fingers to feel the characters.

Contents

Before Braille

Louis Braille was not the first to think about a writing system for the blind. In the 17th century the Italian Jesuit Francesco Lana thought about different systems of coded writing for the blind. He invented a system which relies on relief printing on thick paper. Another writing system he invented let blind people write by making lines and dots.

Valentin Haüy was one of the first French who took interest in the problems the blind had when they wanted to communicate. Haüy was born in Picardie in 1745, and studied languages at the university in Paris. First he took interest in the deaf people who could not speak, later in the blind people. In his opinion their biggest problem was that they could not read. He then invented a system which allowed them to read and write. sentences and mathematical expressions. Later he started a school for blind children. His writing system used two columns which had between one and six positions each. Vowels had a dot in the left column, for example.

The Braille system was based on a method of communication originally developed by Charles Barbier. Barbier made it because Napoleon wanted a code that soldiers could use to exchange messages silently and without light at night. Barbier called it night writing. Night writing uses two columns of six dots. It uses phonemes, not letters. Barbier's system was too complex for soldiers to learn, the military rejected it. From the year 1821, he started to test his system in the school Haüy had founded. There it became very successful. Even though the system was difficult to learn, it greatly improved on reading. Barbier had understood that it was better to use a system that used dots over one that used lines.

When Barbier met Braille when he visited the National Institute of the Blind. Braille saw the biggest problem of the code: The human finger cannot feel the whole symbol without moving. This makes it impossible to move rapidly from one symbol to the next. Braille's change was to use a 6 dot cell — the braille system — which revolutionized written communication for the blind.

The Braille alphabet

Braille can be seen as the world's first binary character encoding. The system as originally invented by Braille has two parts

  1. A way of representing the characters of the French language with tuples of six bits or "dots".
  2. A way of representing six-bit characters as raised dots in Braille cell.

Braille is used with different languages today. In each language, the letters are encoded differently, the same letter is at a different position in the alphabet. This is known as braille code, or code page. There are also different braille codes in use for special purposes, like writing shorthand, mathematics or music.

To make it possible to read faster, certain transcriptions of Braille use contractions. This is known as Grade 2 Braille.

The Braille cell

Braille uses cells of six raised dots, in two columns of three dots. The dot positions on the left are numbered one, to three, the ones on the right four to six, as shown in the picture.

Each symbol is coded with certain dots present, and others absent. The dots are approximately 0.02 inches (0.5 mm) high; inside the cell, the dots are about 0.1 inches (2.5 mm) apart. The space between the dots of two cells is about 0.15 inches (3.75 mm) horizontally and 0.2 inches (5 mm) vertically. A standard braille page is 11 inches by 11 inches and typically has between forty and forty-two braille cells per line and twenty-five lines.

Encoding

As originally conceived by Louis Braille, a sequence of characters, using the top 4 dots of the braille cell, represents letters "a" through "j". Dot 3 is added to each of the "a" through "j" symbols to give letters "k" through "t". Both of the bottom dots (dots 3 and 6) are added to the symbols for "a" through "e" to give letters "u", "v", "x", "y", and "z". The letter "w" is an exception to the pattern because French did not make use of the letter "w" at the time Louis Braille devised his alphabet, and thus he had no need to encode the letter "w".

English braille codes the letters and punctuation, and some double letter signs and word signs directly, but capitalization and numbers are dealt with by using a prefix symbol. In practice, braille produced in the United Kingdom does not have capital letters.

There are braille codes for representing shorthand (produced on a machine which embosses a paper tape) and for representing mathematics (Nemeth Braille) and musical notation (braille music).

Writing braille

Braille can be made using a "slate" and a "stylus" in which each dot is created from the back of the page, writing in mirror image, by hand, or it may be produced on a braille typewriter or "Perkins Brailler", or produced by a braille embosser attached to a computer. It may also be rendered using a refreshable braille display.

Extensions

The six code braille is very limited, it only allows 64 different combinations. Keeping to the 6-bit code means that many things need more than one braille character to be coded. A good example for this is how numbers are coded: First there is a symbol that says the next symbol is a number, and then there is the symbol for the number. Louis Braille coded the number 1 the same way as a, 2 the same as b, and so on. The letter i can also mean 9, and j stands for the zero. There is another system for coding numbers, called Antoine. This comes from mathematics. It uses one character to say there is a number (dot 6), and then there are 10 different symbols for the 10 digits. The symbol for number is usually given only once; every symbol that follows is treated as a number, until there is a space.

Braille has been extended to an 8 dot code, particularly for use with braille embossers and refreshable braille displays. In 8 dot braille the additional dots are added at the bottom of the cell, giving a matrix 4 dots high by 2 dots wide. The additional dots are given the numbers 7 (for the lower-left dot) and 8 (for the lower-right dot). 8-dot braille has the advantages that the case of an individual letter is directly coded in the cell containing the letter and that all the printable ASCII characters can be represented in a single cell. All 256 possible combinations of 8 dots are encoded by the Unicode standard. Braille with six dots is frequently stored as braille ASCII.

Braille transcription

Grade 1 braille

File:Braille
Braille Writer
File:Braille on tablet
Braille on a packet of drugs.
File:Braille
Braille book and the same book in common letters

It is possible to transcribe braille by replacing each letter with its braille counterpart. This is usually known as Grade 1 Braille. Grade 1 braille is mostly used by beginners.

The basic problem of Grade 1 braille is that braille letters are much larger than printed ones. The standard page is 11"x11" (28cm by 28cm) in size and only has room for twenty-five lines of forty characters.

Grade 2 braille

For this reason almost all braille books use a transcription known as Grade 2 braille. Grade 2 braille uses contractions, which allows to save space and increase reading speed. Grade 2 braille was developed by linguists who also looked at customs, styles and practices. Transcribing a text into Grade 2 braille is difficult, and the people doing the transcription need to have a special education. There is a book on how to transcribe to braille, in the Library of Congress. This book has almost 200 pages.

In English, there are 23 words which are replaced with a single letter. That way, the word but is contracted to the single letter b, can to c, do to d, and so on. Even this simple rule has exceptions and special cases, which must be thought of. As an example, only the verb to do is replaced by d, the noun do (which stands for a note in music) is a different word, and is written in full.

Sometimes, portions of words are contracted. There are many rules for this process. For example, the character with dots 2-3-5 (the letter "f" lowered in the braille cell) stands for "ff" when used in the middle of a word. At the beginning of a word, this same character stands for the word "to" although the character is written in braille with no space following it. At the end of a word, the same character represents an exclamation point.

The contraction rules take into account the linguistic structure of the word; thus, contractions are not to be used when their use would alter the usual braille form of a base word to which a prefix or suffix has been added. In addition, some portions of the transcription rules are not fully codified and rely on the judgment of the transcriber. Thus, when the contraction rules permit the same word in more than one way, preference is given to "the contraction that more nearly approximates correct pronunciation."

Grade 3 braille

Grade 3 Braille is a system that includes many additional contractions. It is almost like a shorthand. It is rarely used for publications, rather people use it to be able to write and read fast, for themselves.

Grade 4 braille

Only very few people can use grade 4 braille. It uses many rules to shorten grade 3 even further. It allows a blind person to use shorthand to follow spoken conversation. Very often, systems of seven or eight dots are used.

Braille on banknotes

The current series of Canadian banknotes have raised dots on the banknotes that indicate their value. They can be easily identified by visually impaired people; this 'tactile feature' does not use standard braille but, instead, a system developed in consultation with blind and visually impaired Canadians after research indicated that not all potential users read braille.

Writing systems other than braille

Though braille is thought to be the main way blind people read and write, in Britain (for example) out of the reported 2 million visually impaired population, it is estimated that only around 15-20 thousand people use Braille. Younger people are turning to electronic text on computers instead; a more portable communication method that they can also use with their friends. A debate has started on how to make braille more attractive and for more teachers to be available to teach it.

Braille for other scripts

There are many extensions of Braille for additional letters with diacritics, such as ç, ô, é.

When braille is adapted to languages which do not use the Latin alphabet, the blocks are generally assigned to the new alphabet according to how it is transliterated into the Latin alphabet, and the alphabetic order of the national script (and therefore the natural order of Latin braille) is disregarded. Such is the case with Russian, Greek, Hebrew, Arabic, and Chinese. In Greek, for example, gamma is written as Latin g, despite the fact that it has the alphabetic position of c; Hebrew beth, the second letter of the alphabet and cognate with the Latin letter b, is instead written v, as it is commonly pronounced; Russian ts is written as c, which is the usual letter for /ts/ in those Slavic languages that use the Latin alphabet; and Arabic f is written as f, despite being historically p, and occurring in that part of the Arabic alphabet (between historic o and q). Esperanto letters with circumflexes, ĉ, ĝ, ĥ, ĵ and ŝ, are written as those letters without circumflexes with a filled sixth dot. The ŭ, used in Esperanto too, is as the u but the first dot is moved to the second place.

Greater differences occur in Chinese braille. In the case of Mandarin Braille, which is based on Zhuyin rather than the Latin Pinyin alphabet, the traditional Latin braille values are used for initial consonants and the simple vowels. However, there are additional blocks for the tones, diphthongs, and vowel + consonant combinations. Cantonese Braille is also based on Latin braille for many of the initial consonants and simple vowels (based on Romanizations of a century ago), but the blocks pull double duty, with different values depending on whether they are placed in syllable-initial or syllable-final position. For instance, the block for Latin k represents old-style Cantonese k (g in Yale and other modern Romanizations) when initial, but aak when final, while Latin j represents Cantonese initial j but final oei.

However, at least two adaptations of Braille have completely reassigned the Latin sound values of the blocks. These are:

  • Japanese Braille
  • Korean Braille

In Japanese Braille, alphabetic signs for a consonant and vowel are combined into a single syllabic block; in Korean Braille, the consonants have different syllable-initial and syllable-final forms. These modifications made Braille much more compatible with Japanese kana and Korean hangul, but meant that the Latin sound values could not be maintained.

Reading Braille

Trained readers of Braille can read about 100 words per minute; trained readers who do not have sight problems can get to around 250 to 300 words per minute.

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