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AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

Explaining Braille to the Sighted

Hey guys!
I am a legally blind sophomore and I have been using braille in school for about a year now after I started loosing muscle strength and vision in both eyes. My friends are really interested in braille because they have never seen it before (in fact one of them spelt it breil). They can't understand how it works and how I can read just as fast (if not faster) in braille as opposed to print. It is also hard to describe contractions-which takes a while for them to grasp that concept. Does anyone have any tips on how to explain braille to my sighted friends?

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Re:Explaining Braille to the Sighted

I'm sighted and I know how my blind boyfriend described it to me. "It's a series of 6 dots, lined up like they would be on a dice, and different combinations of these dots make up letters. Now if you just wrote braille letter by letter it would take up a lot of room, my braille school textbooks are like 20 volumes, so to use up a little less room, we use grade two which include contractions. Contractions are combinations of dots that mean full words or parts of words, and, the, with, of, -ing, and -ed are just some of the contractions. It lets us write in a little less space at least"

Re:Explaining Braille to the Sighted

This may seem silly, but I know that many adults have enjoyed learning about braille on AFB's site for kids, the Braille Bug®:

Your friends could use the games area to see their name in braille, send each other "secret messages," and play games that test their ability to decode braille.

There are also several good articles that explain how braille works, including explanations of the braille codes for music, math, and foreign languages:

Let us know how it goes!

Re:Explaining Braille to the Sighted

your welcom. you could also write your friends name in braille or let them try to do it.

Re:Explaining Braille to the Sighted

Hi Bobbi!
That is what I have been doing for the past year-but I refuse to use a slate and stylus (because I always have an available braille writter and it takes a long time). I usually just try to find a "for symbol" and base my discussion on that. Thanks for your help!

Re:Explaining Braille to the Sighted

Hi, I just learned braille last year and had to explain it to my friends as weel. Here is what i did, I just said braille is a way to read by touch when you cant do it by sight and i showed them some stuff i had like braille alphabet charts and slate and stylus. To explain contracted braille i said it's kinda like braille shorthand since braille takes up so much space. Idk if it will work but it did a little bit for me.

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