Learning Moon

Information and resources available to help with reading, writing and learning Moon.

Braille or Moon?

If you're thinking of learning Moon because you struggle with braille, you may be interested to know more about learning Moon. It has been found particularly suitable for those who lose their sight later in life, or for people who may have a less keen sense of touch. The characters are fairly large and over half the letters bear a strong resemblance to the print equivalent. Some children with additional physical and/or learning difficulties acquire some literacy skills through learning Moon. Being able to read a few words on signs and labels can aid independence.

Advantages of learning Moon

There are lots of reasons to learn Moon:

  • Provides an 'active' reading method for people who cannot access print or braille.
  • Being similar to the print alphabet, Moon may be easier to learn and remember for people who are familiar with print letters.
  • The large open characters, which can be produced in any size, make it easy to feel and decipher, so may be useful for people with a poor sense of touch or limited motor control.
  • Some children and adults with learning and/or physical difficulties in addition to sight loss, who would find it impossible to learn braille, can acquire some literacy through Moon.
  • Even grade 2 Moon is quick to learn and offers space saving and speeds up reading.
  • It is a simple system that a user's family and friends can quickly learn in order to help the Moon reader.
  • Dotty Moon can be produced using a computer, an embosser and translation software.

Disadvantages of learning Moon

Although there are benefits to learning Moon, the disadvantages also need be considered:

  • Books produced in Moon are very bulky and often in many volumes.
  • Some people may find large Moon volumes heavy and uncomfortable to read.
  • The choice of Moon books available is very limited.
  • Moon is not widely known about, so is almost never offered as an alternative format for items such as household bills, bank statements and restaurant menus.
  • There is no portable, mechanical device for writing Moon, which there is for braille (like a Perkins brailler or the Jot-a-dot note-taker). Whilst hand frames are available, these require freehand drawing of the characters rather than following stencils.
  • Equipment for producing heat-sensitive (swell) paper or Dotty Moon is very expensive, as is the swell paper itself.
  • Moon is hardly used outside of the UK, so additional resources cannot be accessed.
  • Whereas a soft braille display can be linked to a computer to enable a braillist to read what is on the screen, an equivalent Moon display is not available. This is a particular disadvantage for people who are unable to use a speech package that reads out what is displayed on a computer screen.
  • Whilst the benefits of Moon (ease of learning and benefits for those with poor touch) have been broadly supported by research, it is difficult to say whether Moon is an ideal tactile reading code. For example, using the same characters in rotation can cause confusion.

Levels of learning Moon

There are two grades of Moon:

  • Grade 1 (uncontracted) is a straightforward letter for letter translation from print and includes the alphabet, numbers and punctuation marks.
  • Grade 2 (contracted) uses some additional signs and an elementary form of shorthand, which reduces the size of Moon documents, and generally increases reading speed.

There are two ways of displaying Moon numbers for general note-taking or mathematics. The first way uses a numeral sign followed by the letters A to J, which stand for the digits 1-9 and 0. The second way uses the StaffsMaths Moon code, which uses a different set of symbols for numbers.

Moon courses

Learning Moon: adults

There are two self-study courses available for adults to learn Moon:

  • Journey Round the Moon is aimed at literate adults wishing to learn uncontracted Moon. No prior knowledge of Moon is required and the course introduces tracking lines with fingertips, before teaching the Moon characters in small groups. Short reading passages support each new element, as it is introduced.
  • Moon Journey Phase 2 is the sequel to Journey Round the Moon and moves on to contracted Moon, building on uncontracted learning. Reading practice is provided as new signs are introduced.

Tuition and support

Although the courses available to learn Moon are designed for self-study, you may find it easier and more enjoyable to learn if you join a class or have one-to-one tuition.

Your local voluntary society for blind and partially sighted people, or your Social Service visual impairment team, may be able to help and perhaps suggest local teachers or Moon users who may be willing to offer occasional support as a "Moon buddy".

A qualified teacher of visually impaired (QTVI) children should be consulted to advise whether Moon is an appropriate approach to literacy for a particular child with sight loss. Contact your local authority for contact details.