Each braille cell is comprised of six raised dots. These dots are numbered and each dot is well-known under its number. The dots 1 and 4 form the top pair, 2 and 5 the middle pair and 3 and 6 the bottom pair. In other words, The left side of the basic braille cell consists of the dots 1, 2 and 3, the right one of the dots 4, 5 and 6.

63 simple characters can be formed by these six dots. These 63 characters are divided in 7 groups. I explain only three of them.

The characters of the first group are formed by the dots 1, 2, 4 and 5. They represent the first 10 letters of the alphabet: "a – j".

The second group is formed by adding the dot 3 to the characters of the first group. They represent the second 10 letters of the alphabet: "k – t".

The third group is formed by adding the dots 3 and 6 to the 5 first characters of the first group. They represent the last letters of the alphabet with the exception of "w": "u, v, x, y and z". 


    =  1

    =  2

    =  3

    =  4

    =  5

    =  6

    =  7

    =  8

    =  9

    =  10

     GROUP 1            GROUP 2           GROUP 3

a =            k =           u =

b =           l =           v =

c =           m =           x =

d =           n =           y =

e =           o =           z =

f =           p =           w =

g =           q =

h =           r =

i =           s =

j =           t =

Because 63 characters cannot cover all possible print signs and their variants, it is necessary to use multi-character sequences. By looking at the table above, you see that braille numbers are announced by a sign using dots 3, 4, 5 and 6. The use of dot 6 just before a letter indicates a capital.

Because of space problems and for more rapid reading and writing, the braille codes for many languages employ contractions that substitute shorter sequences for the full spelling of commonly-occurring letter groups.

The norm for computers is an 8-bit byte which allows for 256 characters. Especially for purposes related to computer access, there is some use of 8-dot braille formed by adding a dot position to each column. However, due to cell size and other considerations, six-dot braille still seems to represent the best system for general reading purposes.

Braille Usage by Frederic K. Schroeder

Factsheet – Louis Braille