How to Write in Braille

10
 minutes

Braille isn't just for reading – it's awesome for writing too! Great to see you here, ready to dive into learning how to write in Braille. Don’t worry, everyone starts from scratch. It's all about taking that first step and keeping at it.

Think of Braille as a cool way to write that's easy to get the hang of. Deciding to learn it is a big step forward. It's not just about putting dots on a page; it's about opening up a whole new way of chatting and sharing ideas. Writing in Braille is effective when using it for labeling items, making quick notes, or using technology like smartphones in a more effective way.

So, let’s keep things fun and easy-going. As you get better at it, you’ll see how Braille is more than just writing – it's about connecting with others in a special way. Ready to start? Let’s jump into the world of Braille together and make every dot count!

A white hand and a black hand, one helping the other to understand Braille

Things you should know about writing in Braille

Ever wondered what Braille writing is all about and how it fits into our digital world? Well, you’re in the right place! This blog is your go-to guide, especially if you're just starting out. Think of it as Braille for Beginners – we've got everything covered, from the basics to some cool stuff you can do with Braille. 

First up, let's tackle a big question: why learn Braille for writing in an age where everything seems to be about screens and voice commands?

  • Maintaining your literacy. People who solely rely on spoken text, tend to lose their grammar or spelling skills. At Hable, we see this happening all the time when we receive emails and texts full of grammatical errors. This can truly hurt your professional and personal communication. Besides grammar, you will miss a lot of structure in texts. Think of headings, cursive or bold text, and capitals. This information is often vital to understanding the text properly. 
  • Become a faster Braille learner and reader. Braille typing is only one part of the equation and is closely related to reading in Braille. When you are used to writing Braille, you are simultaneously practicing your Braille reading skills. Next to this, we have noticed it specifically helps with punctuation and contractions. This is because you will learn on the spot and get direct feedback when you are using a digital way of Braille typing.
  • Perfect and compact integration with technology. Electronic Braille typewriters have perfect integrations with computers, smartphones, and tablets. This means that besides being able to type faster and more efficiently on a phone or tablet, you can even control the entire phone or tablet with Braille. As an example, holding the ‘h’ in Braille on a Braille keyboard will bring you to the homescreen of a phone. Making this an intuitive and efficient way to use your phone or tablet. Additionally, Braille Keyboards like the Hable One, are much more compact than a QWERTY Keyboard and allow you to bring a keyboard with you everywhere. 
  • Contractions make typing super fast. When you start typing in grade 2 Braille, you can type contractions. This means that with one combination of Braille dots, you can type an entire word or set of letters. This is a way that makes typing much more efficient than any qwerty keyboard can ever do. 
  • Labeling and quick notes. Lastly, being able to type Braille, allows you to make Braille notes or Braille labels that you can quickly access at any point. This gives multiple levels of independence, think of labeling kitchen herbs, clothes, or a quick memory note. 

Now we’ve got the reason out of the way, how big of an investment is it to learn how to write in Braille? The short answer: it’s difficult to say. It differs incredibly per person. Generally writing Braille is a lot easier compared to reading Braille.

With the methods from this guide, you should be able to speed up the process. We have seen people that could type in Braille at a decent speed after just a few hours, others take a few days or weeks. In the end, it doesn’t matter, 

Braille alphabet

In fact, Braille is not so much an Alphabet or a language as it is a code. Whereas languages have developed organically over time and continuously evolved, Braille is based on a system developed by Louis Braille in 1824. Contrary to what you might think, this has many advantages.

Because of this, Braille is based on logic and is truly systematic, this helps with the speed of learning Braille. If you want to dive deeper into the Alphabet we wrote an extensive blog about this. It’s a great place to start, for example by writing your name in Braille! 

Surprisingly, Braille also has some intuitive features when it comes to reading Braille numbers and punctuations, we will dive into this in the next section. So how does writing Braille really work?

How to write in Braille: different methods

Getting into Braille writing means knowing about the tools that can make the process easier and more effective. Let’s look at some of the key tools you can use:

1. Collect your tools

Before diving into Braille writing, it’s crucial to gather the right tools. Think of this as your Braille writing toolkit. It usually includes Braille paper, which is thicker than regular paper to hold the embossed dots, and some basic writing tools like a slate and stylus or a Braillewriter. Having these tools on hand means you’re always ready to practice, learn, and communicate in Braille.

  • Slate and Stylus: The Basics of Braille Writing. The slate and stylus are the classic duo for writing Braille. Think of them as the Braille equivalent of paper and pencil. The slate, which can be made of metal or plastic, has a hinge on one end and comes in various shapes and sizes. It's your guide for where to place the dots. The stylus, about 3 inches long, has a metal point and a handle – this is what you use to punch holes in the paper.

Here's how it works: you insert card-stock paper into the slate and use the stylus to make holes. These holes form the raised dots that are read by touch. It's a simple yet effective way to write in Braille. However, there’s a twist! Unlike regular writing where you go left to right, with a slate and stylus, you write the Braille cells in reverse. This means writing from right to left, so when you flip the paper over, the Braille reads correctly from left to right.

  • Braille Printers: Bringing Braille into the Digital Age. Moving on to Braille printers, a more modern tool in the world of Braille writing. These printers, also known as embossers, connect to computers and print out Braille text from digital documents. This is fantastic for producing Braille versions of longer texts or books, making written content more accessible for Braille readers.
  • Braille Typewriters: From Manual to Electronic. Lastly, we have Braille typewriters, which are divided into manual and electronic types. A popular example is the Perkins Brailler, known for its durability and ease of use. These typewriters allow for more efficient and faster writing compared to the slate and stylus. The electronic versions take this a step further, offering features like digital storage and easy editing, bridging traditional Braille writing with the digital conveniences of today.

Each of these tools has its place in the world of Braille writing. From the traditional slate and stylus to the high-tech Braille printers and typewriters, there’s a tool for every need and preference. In the next section, we'll delve deeper into the specifics of the Braillewriter – a key tool for any aspiring Braille writer.

A green Slate and Stylus made of plastic

2. Purchase a Braillewriter

Investing in a Braillewriter is a significant step for anyone serious about mastering Braille writing. It's like upgrading from a basic pen to a high-quality fountain pen in the world of writing. One of the most renowned and widely used Braillewriters is the Perkins Brailler.

The Perkins Brailler has been a staple in the Braille community for a long time, known for its durability and user-friendly design. It’s like the classic typewriter, but for words in Braille. Many people begin their Braille writing and reading journey with this tool because it's reliable and relatively easy to use. The tactile nature of the Perkins Brailler allows for a more intuitive learning process, making it a preferred choice for beginners and experienced users alike.

3. Get yourself a Braille keyboard

In the journey of Braille literacy, embracing modern technology can be a game-changer. This is where an electronic Braille keyboard comes into play, offering a blend of traditional Braille with the advantages of digital feedback. If you're looking to learn Braille writing quickly and efficiently, getting yourself an Electronic Braille keyboard is a smart move.

One of the biggest perks of electronic Braille keyboards is the immediate auditory feedback they provide. When you type, you hear the letter or character, which greatly enhances the learning process. This feature not only accelerates your learning speed but also reinforces your memory and understanding of Braille characters. These Braille keyboards also allow you do things like typing words in Braile in Microsoft Word or any other program. 

Another significant advantage is the practicality and everyday use. By connecting a Braille keyboard to your smartphone, you’re essentially turning every text message, note, or email into a Braille practice session. This means you’re learning and improving your Braille skills with every use, seamlessly integrating learning into your daily life.

Among the various models available, the Hable One stands out as an excellent choice, especially for those new to Braille. It’s more affordable than many other Braille displays and even manual Braillers. The Hable One is designed to be user-friendly and accessible, making it a perfect starting point for beginners. Its cost-effectiveness and ease of use make it a practical option for anyone looking to explore Braille writing without making a hefty investment.

Lady learning to type in braille with Hable One

Additional tips

Learning words in Braille is an exciting journey, and here are a few tips to make it smoother and more enjoyable:

  • Learn Together and Apply Early. Don't go at it alone. Joining a group or pairing up with a buddy can make learning Braille more fun and less intimidating. Sharing experiences and tips with others can really spice up the learning process. Right from the start, try using Braille in real-life situations. Label things around your home or try reading small Braille texts. Using Braille in everyday life helps cement your skills and shows you how handy it can be.
  • Stick to a Routine. When it comes to learning Braille, regular practice beats cramming. It’s better to practice a little every day than to overload yourself once in a while. This steady, consistent approach helps you make smooth progress without getting burnt out. Carve out a daily slot for Braille, be it reading, writing, or just familiarizing yourself with the patterns. Consistency is your friend here.
  • Give It Time, Then Decide. Starting with Braille might feel tough, but give it some time before you make up your mind about it. Let yourself get comfortable with the tactile aspect of Braille. As you get more into it, you’ll understand how Braille fits into your life. Learning Braille is about more than just reading and writing; it’s about gaining independence and opening new doors of communication. If, after some time, you find Braille isn’t for you, that’s totally okay. The key is to give it a fair shot.

Remember, every Braille expert started as a beginner. With patience, practice, and a bit of teamwork, you can make Braille a rewarding part of your life too. 

Braille resources

  1. Local Organizations for Braille Learning. Around the globe, there are numerous organizations dedicated to assisting with Braille learning. In the US, there are Lighthouses for the Blind, CNIB in Canada, and RNIB in the UK, among others. If you're unsure about which organization is best for you locally, Hable can help. We have an extensive database and are just an email away at support@iamhable.com. Reach out, and we'll connect you with the right resources near you.
  1. The Braillist Foundation. The Braillist Foundation in the UK is a community we highly admire and collaborate with. They offer a range of courses and support groups tailored for Braille learners. Particularly noteworthy is their “Braille for beginners” course, which is a fantastic starting point for anyone new to Braille. These courses are designed to guide you from the basics to more advanced levels, providing support and community along the way.
  1. Online Platforms and Tools.In today's digital age, there are plenty of online platforms and tools that offer Braille learning resources. Websites like Hadley Institute for the Blind and Visually Impaired provide free online courses and materials. Additionally, apps and software like Braille Tutor or Braille Coach can be incredibly helpful, offering interactive ways to practice and improve your Braille skills from anywhere.

FAQ

Can you write in Braille by hand? 

Yes, you can write Braille by hand using tools like a slate and stylus. This method involves manually creating Braille dots on paper.

Do you write in Braille from left to right? 

When using a slate and stylus, you write Braille from right to left, but the text reads left to right when flipped over. With Braille typewriters and keyboards, you write from left to right.

Can Braille be typed?

Absolutely! Braille can be typed using Braille typewriters, such as the Perkins Brailler, or electronic Braille keyboards compatible with computers and smartphones.

What tools are used to write in Braille?

Common tools for writing Braille include the slate and stylus, Braille typewriters like the Perkins Brailler, and electronic Braille keyboards.

Do you need a special paper to write in Braille? 

Yes, Braille writing typically requires thicker paper, known as Braille paper, to accommodate the raised dots created by Braille writing tools. If you want to know how to write braille on paper, we recommend using the stylus. 

How do I write Braille in Microsoft Word?

For typing Braille in Microsoft Word, you need to use a Braille display or Braille keyboard. When you connect this to your computer, you can simply type using these devices. This way you can type Braille in Microsoft Word. 

How do I write my name in Braille?

Check out our article with the Braille Alphabet and Numbers. Here you can find the entire alphabet and learn how to write your name! 

Can you type numbers in Braille?

Yes, you can. If you want to know how to write numbers in Braille, check our Braille Alphabet article. Essentially it’s the same as writing letters, but you add a Braille number sign in front of it! 

Now you learned how to write in Braille, you’ve completed your first (and most important) step on the journey. As you’ve already got this far, we are sure you’ll be able to do this! Not sure what to do next? These articles about the “Braille alphabet” or “How to read Braille” might be a good next step.

If you’re not sure what to do next or want to answer a specific question, our team of experts is always ready to help. Reach out to us directly at support@iamhable.com and we will guide you on your journey! Now, the ball is in your court, you’ve got this! 

A person writing in braille using the Slate and stylus

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Freek van Welsenis
CEO | Co-Founder

Hable comes from a personal inspiration. With siblings with a disability and my parents working in this space, this is my area of interest. I have a huge passion for applying tech so people with disabilities can participate.

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