Reading Braille

Blind people read from left to right across the page with a light touch, using one or both hands.

The soft pads of the fingers are used to feel the raised dots, as these are more sensitive than the fingertips.

Most sighted braille readers read braille by sight. Sensitive fingers are needed for reading braille, although even those with a less acute sense of touch are pleasantly surprised with how quickly their sensitivity increases with practice.

Paper (hard copy) braille

Braille that is written or embossed onto paper or similar materials is still used everyday.

Paper braille is often the most pleasant to read for leisure purposes and has the advantage of being low-tech and reasonably portable. It means people can label items around the home and take notes on the go. Familiarity with paper braille is also important when learning braille and for developing literacy skills in children.

Paper braille takes up considerably more space than printed words. An average book or novel will be made up of five volumes of braille. The largest book in the RNIB Library is the Viking Opera Guide which is in 94 volumes of braille, occupying 2.5 metres of shelving!

"I get my braille books from RNIB's library service. I don't know where I would be without them because there is nothing nicer than coming home, settling down, reading a braille book and just relaxing, forgetting all about the worries of the day."
Madeleine

Refreshable braille

Braille is no longer purely a paper medium. New braille technologies are bringing about a communication revolution for blind and partially sighted people.

Special software converts text to braille and streams it through a piece of equipment used next to the keyboard called a refreshable braille display.

The display produces braille by raising and lowering pins in response to an electronic signal. As you read through different sections of text the braille display constantly updates the braille.

"I use a combination of audio and braille on the computer when I'm at work which really helps to quickly scan through pages of information, particularly websites."
Jim.

Braille alphabet card

The braille alphabet card shows the embossed braille alphabet, punctuation marks and numbers, together with the print translation.

You can order one free copy of the English card from our online shop. If you want multiple copies of the card there will be a small charge. For details of the Welsh alphabet card, please call 0303 123 9999.

Braille books and magazines

Our National Library Service stocks a huge range of books for children and adults in a range of accessible formats, including braille.

Magazines and newspapers from RNIB cover a range of areas of interest, and are available in braille.

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