Braille, as you probably know, is a touch system for the sight impaired. It is made up of an alphabet and numerical list of raised dots. There are also symbols and punctuation marks – everything we would find in our own syntax and grammar.
Interestingly, the average speed of reading is reportedly 125 words a minute, but faster speeds are indeed possible. Braille allows people with vision impairments to study and review the written word. It gives people access to a range of reading materials from financial statements to textbooks, menus, and more.
The transcription and translation of braille
While it is certainly possible to transcribe print by substituting the braille character for the print equivalent, this kind of character-by-character transcription is usually used for beginners.
Typically, braille characters are significantly larger than the printed equivalents, with the average 11” x 11.5” page only have room for about 25 lines of 43 characters. In order to increase the reading speed as well as to reduce space, most braille alphabets make use of abbreviations, ligatures, and contractions. Most English braille books are transcribed in contracted braille.
When people create braille, it is known as braille transcription. However, when software is used to produce braille, it is referred to as braille translation. There is a need for braille translation software to handle the most common languages in the world, and a range of technical areas, including math, music, and tactile graphics.
Why braille is still essential today
Sadly, there are articles published every year claiming that braille is no longer relevant, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. For example, literate adults who lose their vision later in life can learn braille for things like signage and labels.
What’s more, raising an illiterate child is just not an option nowadays, which can condemn the child to a life of dependence. Choosing to teach a child braille can be the difference between that dependence and a full, functional, and successful life.
High-quality braille textbooks, for instance, give students who are physically and intellectually capable of tactual reading, the educational experience they deserve, one that is equivalent to the written word. Braille contains many of the characteristics that we find in printed format, and they could be the only means of literacy for a child that has little to no usable sight. Young children can enjoy the experience of holding their print-braille or braille-only book just as much as a child who has full vision.
We can’t not mention the use of electronic devise, either. Refreshable braille displays are actually electronic devices that depict a short row of braille made up of pins that raise and lower for the text in small view. Usually, the show around 20 – 40 characters at a time. When used with access software, the refreshable braille displays content from the screen of a PC or tablet and allows multiple hardcopy volumes to be transported onto one device.
Braille is just as important to day as ever before and should not be dismissed.