War of the Dots (History of Codes for the Blind)

As a registered blind person and a braille user, I was interested to read this article regarding the controversy surrounding which braille code should be used. As a blind person growing up in the UK, I was taught to read English Braille. At that time the braille used in the UK did not utilise capitals. As a consequence, when I began to touch-type (using a manual typewriter) I had to learn to use capitals which, as a braille user was initially rather difficult to remember. Today the braille produced here in the UK contains capitals. There are, however many books still available lacking capitals, many of which sit on my bookshelves. The controversy surrounding the introduction of capitals and other changes to the braille code which I have witnessed during my lifetime, pale into insignificance when compared to those detailed in the article. Much of my reading is now done using Job Access with Speech (software which converts text into speech and braille enabling me to use a standard Windows computer or Laptop), or by utilising the text to speech facility on my Kindle. I do, however still enjoy reading braille books and own a small braille library. Kevin

Author Adrienne Morris

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4 thoughts on “War of the Dots (History of Codes for the Blind)

  1. Victoria Zigler (@VictoriaZigler)

    Interesting article.

    Having learned to read and write initially in print, before moving on to learning Braille after several years of schooling in print, I found the fact that many Braille users don’t use capital letters puzzling at first. I was told of the existence of a way to show capital letters, but told I could use it or not, as I pleased. I used it, since the idea of not doing so seemed strange to me. My brother, on the other hand, who is only a year older than me, but learned Braille from the start, is more likely to not bother with capital letters when using Braille. He knows the option to do so exists, but the importance of capital letters is something he only learned later, as in your case.

    1. drewdog2060drewdog2060 Post author

      Thanks for your comment Tori. I dont use capitals when writing braille. I do, however utilise them when writing on my computer/laptop. Although capitals (in braille) take up additional space in what is, already a bulky system, I do support their use as they inculcate in young braille users the importance of capitals from an early age rather than (as in my case) only learning about their importance at a later stage. I feel that as I understand the importance of capitals, me not using them (when writing braille) doesn’t matter but perhaps I want to have my cake and eat it!

    1. drewdog2060drewdog2060 Post author

      Thanks Daria. I guess braille remains a mystery to people unless they know a braille user or have an interest in learning about it. In point of fact only a comparatively small number of blind people use braille. This is in part at least due to the fact that many individuals become blind in later life and given the difficulty of learning braile, they don’t do so. I learned from about 6-years-old (when the mind is most receptive to learning) and even though new technologies (such as screen readers) have come along, braille remains an important part of my life. Kevin


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