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The following information was provided by Allan Young, Braille Promotion Manger, National Library for the Blind

What is Braille?

Braille is a reading and writing system used by visually impaired people. The letters of the alphabet and the numbers are formed from different combinations of a set of six dots arranged in two vertical rows of three, like a domino. A visually impaired person can interpret these dots when moving a finger along a line of braille.

A shorthand system
If printed material were transcribed into braille letter for letter, braille books would be very bulky. The six dots permit 63 different combinations, and so in addition to letters, numbers and punctuation marks, there are other symbols for frequent letter-groups like ING, ER, AND and BLE. There are other devices within the system which make it into a type of shorthand code.

Grade 1 and Grade 2
If someone learns the letters of the alphabet and the numbers, this is called grade 1 braille; if you are able to master the 189 contracted forms, you will know grade 2 braille. Grade 1 is much easer to learn, but grade 2 can save as much as 25% in paper consumption.

Writing Braille
Braille can either be produced through a computer translation program, or you can write it by hand in various ways. When a computer has 'translated' some text into braille, it can be printed out on a braille embosser. A visually impaired person writing braille will probably use a small machine which looks rather like a typewriter.

As well as providing an open door to all kinds of literature, braille can be found on clocks and watches, many kitchen devices, maps and diagrams, labels, card and board games, and so provides a person without sight with a great deal of freedom and independence.

Moon is another form of embossed type which many older visually impaired people find is easier to learn than braille. It does not require as much sensitivity in the fingertips.

National Library for the Blind
The National Library for the Blind offer a wide choice of books, in braille and moon, for both adults and children, similar to the selection found in a local public library. For example classic novels, Booker prize winners, and modern bestsellers. Together with biographies, history and travel. Authors like Roald Dahl, Dick King-Smith and Anne Fine are included in the children's collection.

They also offer:

Braille music from the largest collection in Britain.
A service which is completely free; a generous loan period for all books.
Books delivered free direct to reader's home by first class post.
A selection of catalogues available on request - they also supply lists for individuals on a wide range of topics such as Star Trek, cookery etc..
Regular lists of new books added to stock

For further information contact: National Library for the Blind


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