Monday, March 15, 2010

Little Bit of Braille

As you know one of my signature collections is the braille pendants and necklaces as well as braille keychains and now also rings. The other day I received a really great gift from a fellow jewelry designer, Leslie Ligon of who found me through Etsy and we talked about our designs and common interest in braille.

Leslie lives in Dallas and promotes Braille literacy within the sighted and blind communities through her braille jewelry like the bracelet she sent me. (to the left) It consists of the whole alphabet in braille with the letters on the inside.

A portion of her sales proceeds are donated to Braille Without Borders and BrailleInk.

On that note... A little bit about this type of writing. Braille can be found in almost every public space and often goes unnoticed by the sighted...but take a closer look next time you're in a public elevator or office. You'll find those clever embossed dots next to numbers and buttons and next to offices and restrooms.

Named after its inventor, Louis Braille, the braille system uses a basic “braille cell” which consists of six dots grouped in two vertical columns of three dots each. The dots in the first column are numbered one through three and the second, four through six. Organized groups of dots in the cells represent letters and numbers. For example, the letter “D” (in the chart below) can be expressed as “dots 1, 4, 5.”

The story of Louis Braille is actually quite interesting as well--
Louis as an 11 year old blind student revised secret military code and used it the basis for written communication for blind individuals. The original military code was called night writing and was used by soldiers to communicate after dark. The code used a twelve-dot cell two dots wide by six dots high.The problem with the military code was that the human fingertip could not feel all the dots with one touch.

Louis Braille's revised reading method is based on a cell of six dots. This improvement enabled the fingertip to encompass the entire cell unit with one impression and hence quickly move across cells.

Another interesting tidbit is that His published code,Procédé pour Ecrire les Paroles, la Musique et la Plain-Chant au Moyen de Points, also contained a braille music code based on the same six-dot cell. Cool, right?!

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