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A yellowed postcard is printed with Braille and explanatory text in black letters.  Under the heading “HOW BRAILLE LOOKS LIKE” follow the 26 letters of the alphabet in Braille and underneath in black print and the words “BLUMENTAG HEILBRONN”.  In two other text panels there are explanations of Braille in very small black letters.  They end with the sentence "In Germany there are 35,000 blind people!"
Braille postcard to the Int. Blind day 1915 (including Braille alphabet)
The 26 letters of the alphabet are applied as raised (tactile) characters in 6 lines on a dark gray metal plate.  You can see the fonts of Haüy, Gall and Howe, as well as the moon alphabet and the dot scripts of Braille and Wait.
Comparison of different scripts
The text panel shows the 26 letters of the Latin and Moon alphabet in black print
Overview moon alphabet
A rust-brown metal plaque.  The floor plan of the cathedral is raised as a relief and therefore also palpable, the lettering is in normal script (white on a rust-brown background) and in Braille.
Metal plate with a raised representation of the floor plan with axis bend of the St. Corentin Cathedral in Quimper with explanations in normal script and Braille

As Braille systems from across characters referred to by the blind can be read. Reading is done with the sense of touch of the fingers, with which the raised structures of the characters can be distinguished from their planar surroundings and identified. There are several such systems of braille, of which the year today in 1825 by Louis Braille developed Braille is the most widespread.

Many of these writing systems for the blind are well thought out, but often have the disadvantage that they are used by the sighted for the blind, e.g. B. the moon alphabet . Not so with Braille, which was developed by its namesake, who was blind himself, as a practicable writing system for blind people.

To differentiate between Braille and Braille, the term black script is often used for the script of the sighted .

Basic explanations

There are two main directions in Braille:

  • Relief writing in which the normal Latin letters or simplified graphic patterns are made palpable (e.g. the moon alphabet ), and the
  • Braille that reproduces the letters in a dot grid or translates them into a code .


Dot fonts are fonts that consist of raised points protruding from the material and thus tangible. The first of these typefaces, which consisted of tactile dots and lines , was designed by Francesco Lana Terzi in 1670 , but it was never used. In 1815 , Charles Barbier developed his military-style night writing that was supposed to be legible in the dark. Since this font did not reach the military, it offered barber in the Paris school for the blind.

Braille is used synonymously for normal Braille , which uses six dots. This is by far the most widespread and best-known braille, but there are also other braille systems. Before Braille became generally accepted, the New York Point developed by William Bell Wait (also known as Wait for short ) was widespread in North America . In addition, computer braille , which uses an 8-point system to make it easier to display capital letters and special characters, or 7-point and 8-point stenography for the blind, has become popular. “Computer Braille” is mainly used for Braille displays that blind people can use to read the content of a computer screen.

Braille is put on paper with special Braille printers or dot type machines . The space requirement of the braille systems is enormous, because the characters are larger than in black letters. The paper also has to be much thicker in order to be able to be embossed permanently. The Duden thus comprises 18 volumes in braille. It is at least possible to emboss the sides on both sides with machine production, because the fingers only feel the bumps, but not the depressions. To do this, the characters on the front and back must be offset from one another by a small amount, so that points that have already been pressed out on one side are not pushed in again from the other. In order to compensate for the disadvantages caused by the heavy weight of Braille printed matter in letter correspondence, Deutsche Post AG transports items in Braille free of charge (marking: blind items / cécograms ).

Braille continues to spread. According to the 12th amendment to the AMG ( Medicines Act ) since 2004, all pharmaceutical packaging in Germany must also be provided with Braille.

Creating Braille

Analogous to black writing, which is shown permanently by handwriting or printing on paper or temporarily on displays and screens, for example, braille can also be shown temporarily with Braille or permanently embossed on paper / cardboard.

The permanent display is usually made on cardboard or somewhat thicker paper. Other options are metal plates with dot-letters in elevators or plastic foils for labeling. There are different ways to write braille (especially Braille ) permanently:

The picture shows three different braille tablets and two corresponding styluses.  Two of the panels are made of aluminum-colored sheet metal, the third is made of yellow plastic.  One of the panels is opened so that you can see that the paper to be written on has to be inserted there.  On the back part of this board you can see the indentations for the individual points, arranged in groups of six, on the front part the rectangular cutouts for the positioning of the characters.
Various small braille boards for creating notes and index cards (here in sizes 4 × 28 and 6 × 19 characters)
  • Braille board : The Braille letters are pressed into the paper from the back with a stylus. These are still widespread today because they offer many advantages (handy for traveling, very robust, etc.). Presumably the braille table helped braille to make a breakthrough over relief writing, because it made it very easy to create documents. This is much more complex with relief writing.
  • Braille machine : Each key is assigned a point of the Braille letter. The keys required to generate a letter are pressed simultaneously.
  • Braille displays : The letters are entered using either six or eight keys for computer Braille, similar to the braille machine, or directly using a connected computer keyboard (each letter is assigned a key). The Braille characters are output dynamically via the Braille line.

Braille in public facilities and train stations

Braille in the handrail of Dresden Central Station

The Deutsche Bundesbahn equips many handrails of the train stations with Braille.

See also


  • Bernhard Walter Panek: Braille: writing - graphics - printing. Production and reproduction of tactile publications. Wiener Universitätsverlag ISBN 978-3-7089-0153-4
  • Kai Nonnenmacher: Animated language, sublime writing - anaglyptography and literary blindness in French romanticism. In: Claudia Gronemann Ed .: Body and Writing: Contributions to the 16th Colloquium for Young People in Romance Studies. Leipzig, June 14-17 , 2000. Forum Junge Romanistik, 7. Romanistischer Verlag, Bonn 2001 ISBN 3-86143-122-X pp. 393-409

Web links

Commons : Braille  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Braille  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
  • presents various Braille systems from other countries, e.g. B. Chinese
  • Chronological development of the Braille scripts (chronological table) including writings by Terzi, Haüy, Klein, Lucas, Gall, Howe, Alston, Moon, Hebold, Wait, Smith, Mascaró, on
  • Virtual exhibition "Signs - Books - Networks" of the German Museum of Books and Writing : Braille , with video interview with Prof. Thomas Kahlisch on the function and history of Braille
Literature sources

Individual evidence

  1. Terzis Braille at
  2. Barbiers Nachtschrift at