Braille is a code invented by Louis Braille that uses raised dots in various combinations to represent letters and symbols. This allows those who are blind or have low vision to be able to read by touch.
Braille can be produced (or written) using a braille writer, an electronic braille note taker, a slate and stylus or printed from a computer with a braille embosser. Braille can be read on an electronic refresh able braille display as well.
I have been on a journey to learn braille and I want to share ways that I have come up with to memorize the braille alphabet.
A braille cell has 6 spots, 2 columns with 3 rows. Dots are raised in various patterns to create each letter. Each spot is assigned a number. Numbers 1, 2 and 3 are in the left column from top to bottom and numbers 4, 5 and 6 are in the right column from top to bottom. Dots are made in one or multiple spots to form a particular letter. For example letter (a) is dot 1 so you would only feel a dot on the first spot of the left column. These columns are small, they are only as big as the pads of your fingers.
I just want to add that I do still have some usable vision and can read large print text so some of these tips will refer to print letters. If you are totally blind I would suggest that you learn print letters using tactile or raised letters because it will be helpful.
Letter a (dot 1)
For the letter (a) I think of how a is used to represent 1 thing and that reminds me it is dot 1.
Letter b (dots 1 and 2)
I think of the vitamin b12 and that reminds me that b is dots 1 and 2.
Letter c (dots 1 and 4)
I think of c14 and how it rhymes in a way. This helps me to remember it is dots 1 and 4.
Letter d (dots 1, 4 and 5)
I think of this as an upside down printed letter d. It is also similar to the letter c with just an extra dot.
Letter e (dots 1 and 5)
I think of the number fifteen and how it has the letter e in it and connect that to dots 1 and 5.
Letter f (dots 1, 2 and 4)
This letter feels just like a printed f. I don’t have a number trick for this one but it is a backwards braille d.
Let’s take a break from the alphabet, here is an introduction to the slate and stylus.
Letter g (dots 1, 2, 4 and 5)
This one reminds me of a grid. This pattern forms a square and reminds me of the squares on graph paper.
Letter h (dots 1, 2 and 5)
This feels like a print h. It is similar to the letter b in braille but it has an extra dot. I think of the store B&H, that may help you to remember this letter.
Letter I (dots 2 and 4)
This letter is tricky because it is similar to the letter e, it is just flipped. I don’t have a good way to remember this one by the numbers so I think of it as a flipped braille e.
Letter j (dots 2, 4 and 5)
This letter feels just like a print letter j. I don’t have a better way to remember this one.
Letter k (dots 1 and 3)
This letter is an interesting one. It is similar to the letter l so I just remember that k does not have the middle dot.
Letter l (dots 1, 2 and 3)
This is another easy one. I remember that it is the 3 dots in the left column. The braille l also feels the same as a print l.
Letter m (dots 1, 3 and 4)
The letter m kind of feels like a print m, it is kind of a half m. I think of the braille k, l and m and they are similar and that helps me remember them.
Some extra thoughts
I hope my funny suggestions were helpful. To make a capital letter you put dot 6 before the letter you want to capitalize. Numbers 1-0 are identified with the braille letters a-j with the number sign before the letter. The number sign is dots 3, 4, 5 and 6. The comma is dots 2 and 5 and a period is dots 2, 5 and 6. Stay tuned for part 2.
Read part 2 here.