How many characters can the Braille Writing System have? This question brought me into panic when I encountered it in our exercise in Basic Statistics. My eyes were forming question marks asking what the hell does Braille Writing System mean. After class, I hurriedly went to our library, opened one of the desktops there and searched for the said writing system. The question marks on my eyes turned into sparkling diamonds when I found out that it is a writing system used by blind or visually impaired people. Each characters are presented through embossed dots from an imaginary rectangle composing of six circles. Over all, it has 63 characters. However, Braille Writing System can have 64 unique characters since each of the six circles can be presented in two ways – embossed or not. So answering the question, the formula would be two raised to six leading to an answer of 64.
Setting the Statistics aside, I was amazed on idea so I’m currently studying their alphabet even though I have no problem with my eyes. It just turns into question marks, diamonds and others but I assure you that there’s no problem with it. I haven’t fully memorized it. In the meantime, let me show you the Braille alphabet, numbers and other characters.
A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H
Letters A to H are on the left side and their corresponding Braille character is on the right side. I know it is not embossed just like the real Braille Writing System but I guess, this is the easiest way I can show them. The colored dots, or squares rather, indicate the embossed dots while the squares, which are not colored, remains as flat.
I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P
If you can’t read my own font, which I found hard to create, these are letters from I to P. I noticed that the beginning letters in the alphabet either have one, two or three dots embossed only. But the letters on the middle have Braille characters which plays from two, three and four embossed dots.
Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X
When I first saw this, I was actually waiting for the character with fully embossed circles. However, the maximum number of embossed dots a Braille character can have is five and one of them is letter Q. Perhaps, that’s the reason why there are 63 characters in this system, instead of 64. Other than letter Q, the letters shown here are R, S, T, U, V, W and X.
Y, Z, 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
These are the Braille characters of letters X and Y and numbers from one to five. Have you noticed that the Braille of one to five are similar to the Braille characters of A to E respectively? This leads me to the thought that a Braille character can have many counterparts. I wonder how the blind people would know that.
6, 7, 8, 9, ., ,, ;, :
This just proves how messy and dirty I work. I’m sorry! By the way, I know there are unclear characters invading here. The numbers on the left from top to bottom are six, seven, eight and nine. The marks on the right from top to bottom are period, comma, semicolon and colon. Why does period has bigger Braille character than comma? Just a random thought!
?, !, (, ), <, >, “, “
The photo above shows the Braille characters of question mark, exclamation point, the pair of parenthesis, the pair of single guillemet and a pair of quotation marks. Amazing! The open marks in these pair has Braille characters which takes the left space while the close marks has Braille characters which takes the right space, well, except for parenthesis which have the same Braille character.