English Braille

English Braille
Grade-2 Braille
British Revised Braille
English braille sample.jpg
Time period
Parent systems
Print basis
English alphabet
Child systems
unified international braille
Unified English Braille
Irish Braille

English Braille, also known as Grade 2 Braille,[1] is the braille alphabet used for English. It consists of 250 or so letters (phonograms), numerals, punctuation, formatting marks, contractions, and abbreviations (logograms). Some English Braille letters, such as ⟨ch⟩,[2] correspond to more than one letter in print.

There are three levels of complexity in English Braille. Grade 1 is a nearly one-to-one transcription of printed English and is restricted to basic literacy. Grade 2, which is nearly universal beyond basic literacy materials, abandons one-to-one transcription in many places (such as the letter ⟨ch⟩) and adds hundreds of abbreviations and contractions. Both Grade 1 and Grade 2 have been standardized. "Grade 3" is any of various personal shorthands that are almost never found in publications. Most of this article describes the 1994 American edition of Grade 2 Braille, which is largely equivalent to British Grade 2 Braille.[3] Some of the differences with Unified English Braille, which was officially adopted by various countries between 2005 and 2012, are discussed at the end.

Braille is frequently portrayed[by whom?] as a re-encoding of the English orthography used by sighted people. However, braille is an independent writing system, not a variant of the printed English alphabet.[4]


Braille was introduced to Britain in 1861. In 1876, a French-based system with a few hundred English contractions and abbreviations was adopted as the predominant script in Great Britain. However, the contractions and abbreviations proved unsatisfactory, and in 1902 the current grade-2 system, called Revised Braille, was adopted in the British Commonwealth.[5] In 1878, the ideal of basing all braille alphabets of the world on the original French alphabetic order was accepted by Britain, Germany, and Egypt (see International Braille). In the United States at the time, three scripts were used: non-braille New York Point; American Braille, which was reordered so that the most frequent letters were the ones with the fewest dots; and a variation of English Braille, which was reordered to match the English alphabet, assigning the values wxyz to the letters that, in France and England, stood for xyzç. A partially contracted English Braille, Grade 1½,[6] was adopted in Britain in 1918, and fully contracted Grade 2, with a few minor concessions to the Americans, was adopted in 1932.[7] The concessions were to swap the British two-dot capital sign with the one-dot emphasis sign, which had generally been omitted anyway (as capitals had been in New York Point), to drop a few religious contractions from general usage, and to introduce a rule stating that contractions and abbreviations should not span 'major' syllable boundaries.[5]

In 1991, an American proposal was made for Unified English Braille, intended to eliminate the confusion caused by competing standards for academic uses of English Braille.[8][9] After several design revisions, it has since been adopted by the Commonwealth countries starting in 2005, and by the United States (starting a gradual introduction after 2012). The chief differences with Revised Braille are in punctuation, symbols, and formatting, more accurately reflecting print conventions in matters such as brackets, mathematical notation, and typefaces.

Other Languages
한국어: 영어 점자
日本語: 英語の点字
中文: 英语盲文