Spelling in braille

Braille words are spelled the same as written words, but because it takes up around three times as much space as print, short-form words have been developed. The short-form is known as contracted braille and was adapted from the uncontracted code Louis Braille invented. Uncontracted code is most easily described as the braille alphabet. Every letter is represented, just as in print. For example the word ‘and’ in the uncontracted version would be written using the braille letters a, n, and d. The word ‘and’ in the contracted version would be written with a single character using a third of the space.

Pictures and diagrams

Diagrams and pictures can sometimes be explained in words without losing any information. In many cases though, a raised version is useful – these are called tactile diagrams or pictures. Blind Low Vision NZ produces these tactile versions.


Writing numbers requires putting two characters together. By placing a special character called the number sign directly in front of letters A – J of the braille alphabet, you make the digits 0 to 9.


Yes, you can even braille music! Notes such as A, B or F are represented by different combinations of the top four dots. Each note’s value (such as crotchet or minim) is represented by different combinations of the bottom two dots. Pitch and other musical symbols are represented through different combinations of the six braille dots in a cell before the music note.

Braille in different languages

Since the 1990s, braille has been used in almost every country in the world and has been adapted to almost every known language, from Albanian to Zulu. Even pictorial languages such as Chinese can be represented in braille. Blind Low Vision NZ only teaches the English version.

The printed braille page

Braille can be produced so it’s written on both sides of a piece of paper. This is called “interpoint” or “interline”. It is produced by a printer known as an embosser. When a book is produced like this you can read both sides of each piece of paper – just like a print book.