Posted on September 29th, 2014 by Beth Finke
Whether you can see or not, you’ve probably heard of Braille. What most people don’t know about Braille is that over centuries, different Braille codes have been developed for different uses. There’s a Braille code for music, a Braille code for math, another code for mathematical diagrams, a Braille code for science, a special code for chemistry. I could go on. But now, thanks to a new unified English Braille code, I won’t have to.
Last year, a majority of English-speaking countries officially adopted one set of rules that govern Braille used in literary/mathematical/computerized encoding. The new Unified English Braille includes punctuation marks that didn’t used to be so common (@ and #, for example) and will have Braille cells representing visual effects like bullets, bold type, accent marks, and so on.
I can read Braille, but I use my talking computer to write. Over the years I have memorized new key combinations for the symbols I need when using HTML code and writing text messages, blog posts, articles and books. A recent email message from a teacher at the Hadley School for the Blind tells me I use more symbols and punctuation than I thought – she asked for permission to reprint something I’d written and use it in a new Hadley course that will teach the new code to blind students.
The new Unified English Braille course will be produced in Braille only and distributed by mail. When I looked over (okay, listened to) the excerpt they’d chosen, I couldn’t believe all the @ symbols and slashes and dashes in it. I bet you use a lot more of those symbols in the writing you do these days, too. I give the International Council on English Braille credit for figuring out new ways to represent all of these new symbols and such in Braille cells.