So, several weeks ago, I decided that I’d like to learn to read Braille. I learnt British Sign Language about 25 years ago at adult evening classes over a year. It was really good fun and I even got a qualification in it. Goodness, I’m feeling positively old just writing that! Although I used this for a while as a client advisor in a job centre, I’ve now forgotten uch of it. My ‘Learn Braille’ book arrived last weekend and, by chance, a new friend mentioned just a few days ago that she’s actually got qualifications in Braille which is ever so impressive. Now, I don’t plan to take any exams but I just wanted to learn the basics. And, yes, I thought it’d be a slightly unusual thing to have on my bucket list.
Last night, I took my first look at the letters and, thankfully, they’re not quite as confusing as you might think. So, have a look at these:
The black circles would be raised in a Braille book but what do you notice in the above cells of dots? Well, the first row (letters A-J) don’t involve any of the bottom dots (known as positions 3 and 6). When you look at the next 10 letters ((K-T), they’re just the same except for an extra dot (position 3). And then look, letters U-V and X-Z have yet another dot (position 6)….so you can see the pattern in the letters which helps with learning them. Now W is interesting. Braille was developed in France and, as there’s no W in the French language, this was added later on.
This relates to ‘uncontracted Braille’, i.e. one cell per letter, number or punctuation mark. It gets more complicated than this but that’s another chapter! It’s amazing to think that Braille is all around us. Next time you have some paracetamol, look for the Braille on the packet. You’ll also find it on elevator lift buttons, ATM machines, wine bottles, toilet signs, etc. And some restaurants like Pizza Express have menus in Braille too. And so to meet this challenge? To be able to read a short book in Braille without any help. I think it’s doable!
Have you got much on this weekend? Probably not trips out this weekend as I’m working, volunteering and helping to put up shelves over the next two days. But 2 weeks today? I’m going to be at THE most amazing sleepever….especially for adults! Hubby and I are beyond excited at heading up to London for it.
Happy weekend, everyone