January 4th is recognized internationally as World Braille Day to honor the birthday of Louis Braille, the inventor of the code. In addition to the annual worldwide celebration, in the United States January is Braille Literacy Month, which is used to raise awareness regarding braille literacy. When people hear the word “braille” they often think of people who are blind. However, braille is beneficial to many individuals with visual impairments, including those with dual sensory loss and/or multiple disabilities. A great example of this is Busem, a young student in Turkey with multiple disabilities who has learned to read braille.
In support of the month long celebration, we are sharing six fun facts about braille below:
- Louis Braille was 15-years-old when he invented braille.
- Braille is a tactile code, not a language. In fact many languages including English, Spanish, Chinese, and Arabic can be written and read in braille.
- A braille cell is made up of 6 raised dots.
- Every letter, number, punctuation, and symbol can be written in braille (including musical notes)! Braille can also change the typographical emphasis of a word or sentence (bold, italics, etc.)
- Braille takes up more space than the printed--Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary is 72 Volumes in braille!
- There are two “levels” of braille. Uncontracted braille, where each letter is represented by a braille cell, and contracted braille, a “shorthand” version of braille, where common letter combinations or words are represented by one or more cells.