Portable Library for Braille Displays

Braille alphabet

While adding Unicode and International Braille support in libbraille and gnome-braille, I realized it was hard to find good documentation about each Braille alphabet in different countries. This page tries to summarize how Braille is used in as many languages as possible. This documentation is provided as is and may contain some mistakes. Don't hesitate to contact me in order to improve it.

All this documentation has been implemented in an online Braille translator.

What is Braille?

Braille is a tactile writing system used by blind people. It was invented in 1829 by Louis Braille of France who was blinded in a childhood accident. At the age of 15 he modified a military system for reading orders at night without showing any light (night writing), inventing Braille.

Standard Braille alphabet

Braille generally consists of cells of 6 raised dots and the presence or absence of dots gives the coding for the symbol, providing a 64 characters Braille alphabet. This system has been adapted to many international languages


a ⠁b ⠃c ⠉d ⠙e ⠑ f ⠋g ⠛h ⠓i ⠊j ⠚
k ⠅l ⠇m ⠍n ⠝o ⠕ p ⠏q ⠟r ⠗s ⠎t ⠞
u ⠥v ⠧w ⠺x ⠭y ⠽z ⠵


1 ⠼⠁2 ⠼⠃3 ⠼⠉4 ⠼⠙5 ⠼⠑6 ⠼⠋7 ⠼⠛8 ⠼⠓9 ⠼⠊0 ⠼⠚

braille alphabet

Numbers: addition of the number sign (⠼ or DOTS-3456) before numerals
Check Braille transcription of "1234"

Uppercase: a "capital sign" (⠠ or DOTS-6) is inserted before a capital letter, or [TODO] two capital signs are inserted to indicate that the entire word is capitalized
Check Braille transcription of "Braille BRAILLE"

You can convert some text to standard Braille using this online Braille translator.

Grade 2 Braille

Grade 2 braille was developed to reduce the size of books and make reading quicker. Other symbols are used to represent common letter combinations, for example in english 'OW', 'ER', and words such as 'AND' and 'FOR'. Combinations of two symbols are also used to represent some words, eg 'THROUGH'. Some characters may change their meaning, depending on how they are spaced.

You can convert some text to grade 2 Braille using this online grade 2 Braille translator. Warning: It is not complete yet.

Computer Braille

The standard Braille system has been extended to 8 dots for computer systems in order to handle additional attributes.

You can convert some text to american Computer Braille using this online American computer Braille translator.

Braille in various countries