A brief history of Braille!

Braille, as you will be aware, is a system of raised dots used by the Blind and visually impaired to read documents, books and more recently, signs.

The system of raised dots used to convey text dates back to the early 1800’s when it was developed within Napoleon’s army by Charles Barbier as a method of sending written messages at night that could be read without the risk of a light attracting enemy forces. The initial system comprised of a matrix of 12 dots arranged in two vertical columns of 6.

Groupings of dots represented letters, numbers and phonetic sounds. Louis Braille was born in France on the 4th January, 1809. He lost his sight at an early age after stabbing himself in his eye in his father’s workshop.

Still only 11 years old, Louis Braille decided that he could develop Charles Barbier ‘Night Writing’ code into a method of reading for people with sight loss. Louis Braille spent the next 9 years at the Institute of the Blind in Paris, refining the system of 6 raised dots that we know now as Braille.

Signs that we produce, at Braillesigns.uk, are made using the basic Type 1 Braille where each letter is represented by a grouping of dots and numbers, capitals etc, represented by lead characters.

Please find below a simple chart and brief explanation:

RNIB Braille explained

Braille letters are made of raised dots so they can be read by touch. This card shows you the braille alphabet and numbers. A braille “cell” is made up of six dots like a domino, with each letter using a different pattern.


To make numbers in braille we put this special numeral symbol ( .: ) before letters A to I for numbers 1 to 9 so A = 1, B = 2 and so on. J is used for zero

So 6 is the numeral symbol followed by the braille letter ‘F‘ like this:


And the number 160 is like this:


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