The goal of BRAILLE UNIFORMITY is to unify the braille alphabets of
the world as much as possible, so that literacy in one braille
alphabet readily transfers to another. Unification was first achieved
by a convention of the International Congress on Work for the Blind in
1878, where it was decided to replace the mutually incompatible
national conventions of the time with the French values of the basic
Latin alphabet , both for languages which use Latin-based alphabets
and, through their Latin equivalents, for languages which use other
scripts. However, the unification did not address letters beyond these
26, leaving French and German
* 1 Numerical order
* 2 Unification of 1878
* 2.1 Basic correspondences * 2.2 Alphabets limited to grade-1 braille
* 3 Congress of 1929
* 4 Congresses of 1950–1951
* 4.1 Common extended correspondences
* 5 References * 6 External links
An early braille chart, displaying the numeric order of the characters
In the first decade, only the top four dots are used; the two supplementary characters have dots only on the right. These patterns are repeated for the second decade, with the addition of a diacritic at dot 3; for the third, at dots 3 and 6; for the fourth, at 6; and for the fifth decade, by duplicating the first decade within the lower four dots.
1ST DECADE ⠀ ⠁ ⠃ ⠉ ⠙ ⠑ ⠋ ⠛ ⠓ ⠊ ⠚ ⠈ ⠘
2ND DECADE ⠄ ⠅ ⠇ ⠍ ⠝ ⠕ ⠏ ⠟ ⠗ ⠎ ⠞ ⠌ ⠜
3RD DECADE ⠤ ⠥ ⠧ ⠭ ⠽ ⠵ ⠯ ⠿ ⠷ ⠮ ⠾ ⠬ ⠼
4TH DECADE ⠠ ⠡ ⠣ ⠩ ⠹ ⠱ ⠫ ⠻ ⠳ ⠪ ⠺ ⠨ ⠸
⠂ ⠆ ⠒ ⠲ ⠢ ⠖ ⠶ ⠦ ⠔ ⠴ ⠐ ⠰
UNIFICATION OF 1878
In addition, in other alphabets braille characters were assigned to
print letters according to frequency, so that the simplest letters
would be the most frequent, making the writing of braille
significantly more efficient. However, the letter frequencies of
German were very different from those of English, so that
frequency-based German braille alphabets were utterly alien to readers
of frequency-based American
The 1878 congress, convening representatives from France, Britain,
Germany, and Egypt, decided that the original French assignments
should be the norm for those countries: " the tendencies in America
and Germany to re-arrange the
Gradually the various reordered and frequency-based alphabets fell out of use elsewhere as well.
This decision covered the basic letters of the French alphabet at the time; w had been appended with the extra letters, so the 26 letters of the Basic Latin alphabet are slightly out of numeric order:
a b c d e f g h i j k l m
n o p q r s t u v x y z w
For non-Latin scripts, correspondences are generally based, where possible, on their historical connections or phonetic/transcription values. For example, Greek γ gamma is written ⠛ g, as it is romanized, not ⠉ c, as it is ordered in the alphabet or as it is related historically to the Latin letter c. Occasional assignments are made on other grounds, such as Greek ω omega, which is written ⠺ w, as in beta code and internet chat alphabets, due to the graphic resemblance of Latin w and Greek ω.
Correspondences among the basic letters of representative modern braille alphabets include:
LETTER: ⠁ ⠃ ⠉ ⠙ ⠑ ⠋ ⠛ ⠓ ⠊ ⠚ ⠅ ⠇ ⠍ ⠝ ⠕ ⠏ ⠟ ⠗ ⠎ ⠞ ⠥ ⠧ ⠭ ⠽ ⠵ (...) ⠺
VALUES FRENCH a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v x y z
HUNGARIAN a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p ö r s t u v x y –
ALBANIAN a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p RR r s t u v x y z
GREEK α a β b – δ d ε e φ ph γ g χ CH ι i ω ô κ k λ l μ m ν n ο o π p – ρ r σ s τ t ου OU – ξ ks υ y ζ z
RUSSIAN а a б b ц TS д d е e ф f г g х KH и i ж zh к k л l м m н n о o п p ч CH р r с s т t у u – щ SHCH – з z
ARMENIAN ա a պ P ջ ǰ տ T – ֆ f կ K հ h ի i ճ č̣ – լ l մ m ն n օ ò բ B գ G ր r ս s թ t’ ը ë վ v խ X ե E զ z
HEBREW א ʼ בּ b – ד d – פ f ג g ה h ִי i י Y כּ k ל l מ m נ n וֹ o פּ p ק q ר r ס s ט ṭ וּ u ב v ח CH – ז z
ARABIC ا ā ب b – د d ـِ I ف f – ه h ي ī ج J ك k ل l م m ن n – – ق q ر r س s ت t ـُ u – خ KH ئ ’Y ز z
HINDI अ a ब b च CH द d ए ē फ़ f ग g ह h इ i ज j क k ल l म m न n ओ ō प p क्ष Kṣ र r स s त t उ u व V ऒ O य y ज़ z
TIBETAN ཨ a བ b ཁ KH ད d ཨེ e – ག g ཧ h ཨི i ཡ Y ཀ k ར l མ m ན n ཨོ o པ p ཇ J ར r ཟ Z ཏ t ཨུ u – ཙ TS ཆ CH ཚ TSH
THAI ะ A ิ I ุ U ด d -ัว UA เ- E ก K ห h โ- O จ CH ข KH ล L ม m น n อ ∅ ผ PH เ-ือ UEA ร R ส S ถ TH ค KH บ B ฟ F ย Y -ำ AM
CHINESE 1 b c d YE f g, j h, x YI R k, Q l m n WO p CH ER s t WU AN YANG WAI z
The 1878 congress only succeeded in unifying the basic Latin alphabet. The additional letters of the extended French braille alphabet, such as ⠯, are not included in the international standard. The French ⠯, for example, corresponds to print ⟨ç⟩, whereas the ⠯ in English and German braille transcribes ⟨ font-size:100%; margin:1px 2px 0 0;">⠯ in Hungarian and Albanian braille is ⟨q⟩.
ALPHABETS LIMITED TO GRADE-1 BRAILLE
Languages that in print are restricted to the letters of the basic Latin script are generally encoded in braille using just the 26 letters of grade-1 braille with their French/English values, and often a subset of those letters. Such languages include: Bemba , Chewa (Nyanja), Dobuan , Greenlandic , Huli , Indonesian , Luvale , Malagasy , Malaysian , Ndebele , Shona , Swahili , Swazi , Tok Pisin , Tolai (Kuanua), Xhosa , Zulu .
In these languages, print digraphs such as ch are written as digraphs in braille too.
Languages of the Philippines are augmented with the use of the accent point with n, ⠈⠝, for ñ. These are Tagalog , Ilocano , Cebuano , Hiligaynon , and Bicol ; Ethnologue reports a few others.
Languages of Zambia distinguish ñ/ŋ/ng’ from ng with an apostrophe, as in Swahili Braille: ⠝⠛⠄ ng’ vs ⠝⠛ ng. These are Lozi , Kaonde , Lunda , and Tonga . Ganda (Luganda) may be similar.
Ethnologue 17 reports braille use for Mòoré (in Burkina Faso), Rwanda , Rundi , Zarma (in Niger), and Luba-Sanga , but provides few details.
CONGRESS OF 1929
In 1929 in Paris, the American Foundation for Overseas Blind sponsored a conference on harmonizing braille among languages which use the Latin script, which had diverged in the previous decades.
CONGRESSES OF 1950–1951
When additional letters are needed for a new braille alphabet, several remedies are used.
* They may be borrowed from an existing alphabet; French–German
⠜ ä, ⠪ ö, and ⠳ ü, for example, are widely used where a
language had need of a second a-, o-, or u-vowel. Likewise, the values
of English contracted ("Grade 2") ⠡ ch, ⠩ sh, and ⠹ th are
widely used for similar sounds in other languages.
* An otherwise unused letter may be reassigned. For example, Tibetan
The congress recognized the role of English contracted braille in establishing a partial international standard, and recommended that alphabets follow existing conventions as much as possible.
COMMON EXTENDED CORRESPONDENCES
The following assignments include common secondary vowels and consonants: Whenever a second a- or d-based letter is needed in an alphabet, use of the same secondary braille letter is common. Additional alternative letters are used in some braille alphabets. English grade 2 braille correspondences are given below for recognition; these are often the basis of international usage.
Vowels LETTER BRAILLE EXTENDED USE NOTES
Indic Ā Arabic Ā Scandinavian Æ English ar
Indic Ī African Ị English in
Vowels (cont.) LETTER BRAILLE EXTENDED USE NOTES
long I (ai)
German Ü Indic Ū African Ụ English ou
Occlusives LETTER BRAILLE EXTENDED USE NOTES
Indic CH English ch
Occlusives (cont.) LETTER BRAILLE EXTENDED USE NOTES
Arabic Q African KW also Indic KṢ
English apostrophe used for Arabic ء
African Ŋ Indic Ṅ English ing
Fricatives LETTER BRAILLE EXTENDED USE NOTES
Indic TH Arabic Θ English th Icelandic Þ
Indic DH Arabic/Icelandic Ð English the
French Ç Indic Ṣ Arabic Ṣ English and
Fricatives (cont.) LETTER BRAILLE EXTENDED USE NOTES
Indic JH English was
/x/ or /ks/ Arabic X
Arabic Ħ English wh German SCH Chinese SH
Liquids LETTER BRAILLE EXTENDED USE NOTES
Indic Ḷ English world
Additional consonants LETTER BRAILLE EXTENDED USE NOTES
Indic ḌH Arabic Ẓ 2nd Dh braille pattern English for
African Ɓ , GB English bb 2nd B braille pattern
African Ƙ Indic KH German "ck" 2nd K braille pattern English ance
Arabic ʿ French "à" English of
* ^ "International Meeting on
* ^ World
* v * t * e
French-ordered scripts (see for more)
* Albanian * Amharic * Arabic * Armenian * Azerbaijani * Belarusian
* Devanagari (Hindi / Marathi / Nepali) * Bengali * Punjabi * Sinhalese * Tamil * Urdu * etc.
* Bulgarian * Burmese * Cambodian * Cantonese * Catalan * Chinese (Mandarin, mainland) * Czech * Dutch * Dzongkha (Bhutanese) * English (Unified English