Braille is a form of writing, which was invented by Louis Braille, a French inventor who lived in the first half of the nineteenth century. At the age of three, he became totally blind and needed a lot of help from family and friends to carry on with his lesson.
When he grew up, Braille was determined to make learning easier for blind children by enabling them to read and write. As a blind person cannot see letters of the alphabet, he argued, why not make it possible to feel them instead?
The system he invented is known as Braille. Every letter is represented by a different arrangement of 6 raised dots. Just six dots are the basis of the whole system arranged in two parallel lines of three, in a cell seven millimetres by four millimeters. It is like the design on a domino. These dots derive a combination of 63 different patterns forming 26 letter of alphabets, 10 punctuation, figures and abbreviations.
There are a number of different versions of Braille:
Grade 1, which consists of the 26 standard letters of the alphabet and punctuation. It is only used by people who are first starting to read Braille.
Grade 2, which consists of the 26 standard letters of the alphabet, punctuation and contractions. The contractions are employed to save space because a Braille page cannot fit as much text as a standard printed page.
Books, signs in public places, menus, and most other Braille materials are written in Grade 2 Braille.
Grade 3, which is used only in personal letters, diaries, and notes. It is a kind of shorthand, with entire words shortened to a few letters.
Braille has been adapted to write in many different languages, including Chinese, and is also used for musical and mathematical notations.