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Modern day braille

Braille changes lives. It gives thousands of people independence, learning, literacy, and the enjoyment of reading. Braille opens doors and makes a difference for blind and partially sighted people.

Ten ways that braille makes a difference

  1. Braille provides an "active" reading and writing method for people who cannot access print.
  2. Braille offers a system for labelling all kinds of items (CDs, DVDs, cans and packets of food, medicines, documents and more), which aids independence and raises self esteem in a person who has lost their sight.
  3. Being able to read just 15 braille letters enables a person to play games involving a pack of cards - anything from "Snap!" with the grandchildren to Tournament Bridge.
  4. Popular games (such as Bingo and Uno) are available in braille and others can be adapted by the addition of braille labels, enabling a blind or partially sighted individual to join in with family or friends in a wide range of leisure pursuits.
  5. A diary and address book can be kept, shopping lists made and messages in greetings cards read independently.
  6. Many banks, utilities and other businesses can provide statements, bills and letters in braille, which can provide you with a degree of privacy and independence when dealing with your finances.
  7. Some restaurants and pub chains offer braille menus.
  8. There is a wide choice of magazines, fiction and non-fiction books available in both grade 1 and grade 2 braille.
  9. Braille can be produced manually on a portable hand-frame or notetaker, or on a desktop Perkins brailler. It can also be produced on a computer with translation software and a braille embosser.
  10. A soft braille display can be linked to a computer to enable a user to read what is on the screen.

Braille in everyday life

The uses of braille extends beyond just reading books. From dialling a phone number to checking a bank statement, the ability to read braille helps blind and partially sighed people be independent in so many ways every day and reduces the need for support.

Find out more about braille by listening to BrailleCast, an independent podcast celebrating the world’s most successful tactile reading system.

The need to read

If you are sighted, just think about how often you read during the day, when you encounter signs and maps, or labels on food and drink. Knowing how to write and read braille means that people can label tins of food in the cupboard, read medicine packaging or even just play cards.

Braille isn't just a replacement for writing. It is easy to forget how important colours, logos, symbols and other visual signposting are to working out what something is. Imagine a world where you couldn't rely on the pictures on labels or the symbols on machinery.


Being able to label clothing, food stuffs and domestic appliances around the home helps blind or partially sighted people live independently. Items such as washing machines can be almost impossible for a blind person to use unless the controls have raised or clear print markings to indicate the different settings or uses of each knob or dial.

In an ideal world, all controls would be designed with tactile markings and large, clear contrasting letters and numbers so that customers could use them easily but this is not always the case.

Braille in the workplace

Being able to use braille is an invaluable skill within the work environment. People who are blind or partially sighted face all sorts of barriers when it comes to getting a job. However, research shows that braille users are far more likely to be in employment.

Many blind and partially sighted people find braille to be useful at work. It is a fast and efficient way to make notes in meetings and can also be useful when reviewing long printed documents. Braille can also be written and read through a computer. A combination of paper and digital braille used alongside other new technologies such as screen readers and magnification software mean people with sight loss can effectively work in a huge range of jobs.

Braille in education

RNIB campaigns for children's right to learn braille, whether they are in mainstream or special schools.

There is a clear need to teach braille to blind and partially sighted children from a young age so that they have it as a skill for life. Without braille it is very difficult for children with vision impairments to become literate. The joys of punctuation, grammar and spelling are readily accessible via the braille code.

Those children with low vision whose sight might possibly deteriorate are also encouraged to learn braille. The sooner you start reading braille (very much like print) the easier it will be.

Although someone with low vision might be able to read large print, it can be easier to start learning braille while you still have a degree of sight.