Journal Entry

27 September 2003 ... Learn about Braille

This is what I do at my day job (ADA sign production):

A typical boring sign

That's a typical sign. The spec sheet would say something along the lines of: Steel tactile sign to be applied to back-painted acrylic. Tactile is 4x8 inches with a 1/4 inch reveal (the back plate is 4.53x8.53 inches) and 3/8 inch radius corners. Copy is Helvetica Medium, Upper Case, 3/4 inch, centered with grade 2 braille. The back plate, tactile plate and copy are to be painted such-and-such colors.

(Side note: I had to use Arial Bold on my example... Helv. is a Mac font and I don't have it. bummer. Another popular font on signs is Optima Semi Bold. Don't have it either. Static needs more fonts.)

Anyway. See those little dots on my sign? That's grade 2 braille. I can proof read it with ease, but I don't read braille very well...

My Significant Other came home the other day wearing a shirt with braille on it. At first glance, I thought it was fake braille. Reading it as typical grade 2 braille, the letters came out as gibberish. It took me a while to figure out that the letters were actually grade 1 braille squished together.

humph. It looks like braille, but I'm sure it's quite unreadable to a blind person. As SO pointed out, blind people can't read it anyway since the dots aren't raised. It's just a shirt. heh.

So anyway. Braille interests me. :)

Each letter in braille is composed of six potiential dots : Braille letter: = for is the braille letter for "=" which has all the dots on.

Braille letters: a through z

That's the letters, "a" through "m" on the first line and "n" through "z" on the second line.

Pretty simple, huh? Grade 1 braille is a letter-by-letter substitution. So, "Cheri" would translate as "cheri"...
Grade 1 Braille: cheri

Grade 2 braille, however has almost 200 letter combination substitutions. For example, the "=" letter above with all six dots on, is also the word "for" in grade 2. My name, "Cheri" translates to "*]i" in grade 2 braille!
Grade 2 Braille: Cheri

I don't know all the combinations by heart. And, like I said, I can proof read braille easily and accurately, but I can't read it straight very well. I have to read each individual braille letter, figure out any combinations, and then I have to put the letters together in my mind to form the word. It's a slow way of reading. And since I don't have the opportunity to read braille without the English translation right there, I will probably never learn to sight read braille at work.

But I'd like to learn. It's an interesting skill to have, and I like to be unique. :)

Links of interest:

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