6 dot Braille can only produce 63 different Braille cells. In 6 dot Braille, an unused Braille cell or blank Braille cell is used as a space. Some 6 dot Braille cells have numerous meanings. Numbers, capital letters, and many symbols require more than one cell to produce 6 dot Braille data. There are four Braille codes currently used in the United States. The four U.S. Braille codes are the Literary Braille Code, the Nemeth Braille Code, Computer Braille Code (CBC), and the Music Braille Code. There are differences in Braille alphabet codes used in various English-speaking countries, which prevent the exchange of Braille materials. Other Braille codes are presently under development, some require the use of 8 dots or other raised symbols. 8 dot Braille can produce 255 different Braille cells. The Braille Authority of North America (BANA) is the organization with the final word on new Braille codes used in the United States. There has been many attempts to produce a Unified Braille Code (UBC) which would eliminate the problems of both producing and reading Braille. The Unified Braille Code found on this website accommodates all English-speaking countries and all Latin based alphabets. The Unified Braille Code found on this website can also be used as a method of communication (Finger Braille) for the Deaf-Blind. Finger Braille is fast and logical to learn and can be taught and used in minutes. The Unified Braille Code found on this website can also be used as a method of chordic 8 key typing for data entry or as an 8-bit binary computer code.
Grade 1 Braille consists of only the letters of the alphabet, numbers, and a few punctuation marks. It is rarely used for published works.
Grade 2 Braille (Literary Braille Code) is used for most literary works of fiction and nonfiction, including textbooks, science, foreign languages, and music. Math, mathematical symbols and scientific notation are the exceptions.
American Literary Braille consists of over 250 symbols represented in single Braille cells or multiple Braille cells for producing letters, numerals, punctuation marks, composition signs, contractions, single-cell words, and short-form words. The Braille Authority of North America (B.A.N.A.) distributes the rules for the correct usage for each of the Grade 2 Braille symbols found in English Braille, American Edition, 1994 revision. Letters require one Braille cell to represent data. Numbers require the addition of the number sign (dots 3-4-5-6) before the number. The numbers "1" through "0" are the same as the first ten letters of the alphabet, the "a" is the "1" and the "j" is the "0". Punctuation marks require one or two cells. There are no capital letters in Braille. A "capital sign" Braille cell (dot 6) is inserted before a lower case letter to produce a "Capital Letter". Two capital sign Braille cells are inserted in front of a Braille word to indicate that the entire word is capitalized. There are Braille cell signs for italics, letters that mean words, single cell words, etc. Contractions can be single cells that mean two or more letters, such as dots 1-4-5-6 for "th", dots 2-4-6 for "ow" or they may be two-cell contractions, either initial letter contractions, such as dots 5 + 2-3-5-6 for "time", or final letter contractions, such as dots 5-6 + 1-3-4-5 for "tion". Single cell words are letters of the alphabet or contractions that, when they stand alone, mean words. For example, the letter "b" standing alone means the word "but", the letter "e" standing alone means "every", and the letter "p" means "people". Short words are combinations of two or more cells which mean an entire word. Short words may contain contractions. For example, "ab" means "about", "rcv" means "receive", and "mvs" means "themselves". Some symbols have multiple meanings. For example, dots 2-5-6 may mean "dis", "dd", a period ".'', or a dollar sign "$", depending on how it is used.
The Nemeth Braille Code for Mathematics and Science Notation is used for mathematics and science material which contains symbols not available in Literary Braille. The Nemeth Braille Code is not an expanded version of the Literary Braille Code, there are many significant differences. Numbers are different, Literary Code contractions must not be used under certain circumstances, and some symbols are different. The code book, The Nemeth Code for Mathematics and Science Notation, 1972 Revision, lists 40 pages of symbols with each page containing between 12 and 21 Braille symbols.
Computer Braille Code was developed in order to transcribe materials relating to computers. Computer Braille Code requires file names, the exact count of blank spaces, and other details that are required for computer programming and the use of computers. Computer Braille Code uses some symbols from Literary Braille, some from Nemeth Code, and some symbols of its own. The symbols and rules for the Computer Braille Code are published in the Code for Computer Braille Notation.
The Music Braille Code is a completely different Braille code than a standard Braille code (Grade 1 or Grade 2). An extensive knowledge of music is necessary for the accurate transcription of music into Braille.
There are two main formats in Braille, Literary (which is not related to the Literary Code) and Textbook. The Nemeth Code uses some parts of Textbook format but has some idiosyncrasies of its own. The difference in the two formats is that the Textbook format includes the page numbers of the print version and the Literary format does not. There are also "mini-formats" which determine the order and/or placement of components of items like restaurant menus and recipes in cookbooks.
In the past, Braille materials were produced by a Braille slate and stylus or a Brailler (Braille typewriter). The slate and stylus was the first method developed to produce Braille. The slate is a hinged device which has holes in the upper part and indentions in the lower part. The stylus is a pen with a small, rounded point about the size of the tip of a ball-point pen at one end. The paper is inserted in between the two parts of the slate, and the stylus is used to press each individual dot into the paper. The holes in the top part of the slate ensure uniform spacing, and the indentions in the lower part ensure uniform height of the embossed dots. The writer works from right to left (backwards), so that the Braille will be read from left to right when the Braille paper is removed from the slate.
A Brailler is similar to a typewriter, except that it has only six keys and a spacebar operated by the left or right thumb. The six keys correspond to the six dots, with dot 1 being the index finger of the left hand, dot 2 being the second finger of the left hand, dot 3 being the ring finger of the left hand, dot 4 being the index finger of the right hand, dot 5 being the second finger of the right hand, and dot 6 being the third finger of the right hand. Paper is inserted into the Brailler, and multiple keys are pressed at once, creating an entire Braille cell with each chordic key press.
About 20 years ago, computer software developers began producing computer programs that would translate certain types of computer files into Braille. At first, these were custom programs which cost thousands of dollars and Braille embossers cost tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. The computer revolution has reduced the cost of Braille translation programs to hundreds of dollars. There are now several models of Braille embossers in the $3,000 to $5,000 range. There are problems with translation software which have never be solved.
There are two methods of producing Braille on a computer: direct chordic Braille input and translation of files created by software, such as a word processing program. The direct input software (POKADOT, Edgar, etc.) changes the normal computer keyboard so it will accept six key chordic Braille input, although not all keyboards will work this way. The "f" key is pressed for dot 1, the "d" key for dot 2, the "s" key for dot 3, the "j" key for dot 4, the "k" key for dot 5 and the "l" key for dot 6. The spacebar produces a space. As in the case of the Braille writer, up to six "dot" keys are pressed simultaneously, creating one Braille cell for each keystroke. Of course, the person entering the Braille by the direct input or six key chordic Braille data entry method must know Braille code.
No translation program is 100% accurate. Because of the rules of Braille, particularly those regarding contractions, some words may be incorrectly translated. The single ending quotation mark is the same in print and in ASCII as the apostrophe, but it is different in Braille.
6 dot Braille has only 63 symbols and ASCII has 255 symbols. Braille embossers read (translate) ASCII characters differently than the computer printer does. Each complete Braille cell has its own ASCII symbol, many of which correspond to the letters they represent. Contractions, numbers, and punctuation marks are different. Almost all Braille embossers sold in the United States use the same Braille ASCII codes and should work fine with almost any Braille program. The Micro Braille direct input program does not use standard Braille ASCII codes, it uses a totally different set of codes in its program. Each translation program has its own set of internal codes. Files produced by one translation program are usually not compatible with another translation program, unless they are saved in Braille ASCII (.brf format). Most direct input Braille programs will save in Braille ASCII as an optional File / "Save As" feature.
Online refreshable Braille displays for computers are available from a number of commercial sources. Dot spacing and height is typically slightly larger than that used for paper Braille. Because the mechanical mechanisms used for raising the pins are expensive and fragile, these devices are quite expensive and commonly need frequent service/repair. The most popular models can display a single row of 40 Braille cells and cost more than $5,000.
8 dot Braille is being used for some special purposes and computer online refreshable Braille displays. Many Braille printers can print 6 dot Braille and 8 dot Braille. 8 dot Braille cells have two columns of four dots. 8 dot Braille has 256 unique patterns if the blank cell is counted. Many computer Braille displays indicate capital letters with a dot on the lower left (dot 7). There is little consistency in the use of the lower two dots. There are a number of official and semi-official 8 dot Braille codes, mostly in Europe. Very little literature has been produced in any 8 dot Braille code.
The new 8 dot Unified Braille Code is programmed into the split space bar keyboard on wirelesscomputerkeyboard.com. The keyboard was designed to stop the development of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Cumulative Trauma Disorders, Repetitive Motion Syndrome, Repetitive Strain Disorders, Repetitive Stress Injuries and other injuries. Unlike other keyboards, the keyboard remains on your lap while you type. The entire upper body and arms are relaxed and the wrists remain straight as you type. Preliminary testing of the ergonomic 8 key chordic wireless computer keyboard prove it to be the best way to stop the development of muscular, skeletal and neurological injuries. Back, shoulder, neck, arm, wrist and hand pain or discomfort is prevented by using the ergonomic keyboard. The 8 key chordic data entry method can be learned and used in five to ten minutes. Learning curves of previously tested chordic typing methods have proven them to be faster to learn and faster to use than the standard QWERTY keyboard touch typing method. The 8 key chordic virtual keyboard data entry method is far superior to any previous chordic data entry method and is easy to learn and fast to use. The 8 key chordic Braille keyboard data entry method can also be used as an alternative 8 dot Braille arrangement for the blind and a new form of communication (Finger Braille) for the deaf-blind community. Individuals who write or use the hunt and peck method of typing will be able to type faster in a very short period of time (minutes to hours) using the 8 key chordic keyboard data entry method.• While typing or touch typing , the QWERTY keyboard has an editing mode that is entered into by pressing the left and right space bars both down at the same time.