Braille Reference Sheet (Instructions) (page 2)
The purpose of creating the Braille Reference Sheet in this format was to fit as much information on one page as possible. As a student learning braille, I frequently needed to look up a letter or contraction. After weeks of looking things up in my braille dictionary or in my textbook, I started to create little flashcards with basic, important information on it. These flash cards eventually became so crammed with little handwritten dots that they became illegible and useless. So, slowly I started to alphabetize and organize my notes in a way that would make them more accessible. Trial and error eventually led me to the current table format with rows and columns to separate each letter. I put the reference sheet to use on a regular basis and over time, with suggestions from my colleagues, I made lots of changes to it. Each change made the reference sheet easier to use, more compact, or simply more aesthetically pleasing. The current version of it seems to be the one that my colleagues and I are happiest with. Sometimes it might seem as if an entry would be better written in another way. Most likely, it was not done that way, because I came to the conclusion (along with input from many others) that it was best left as it was. The Braille Reference Sheet is quite helpful for students, teachers, and parents learning braille. People who use braille on a regular basis, might not need to look up individual letters and basic contractions – however, as a 3rd year teacher of students who are blind and visually impaired (who has just gotten my first student who uses braille), I always keep this sheet handy.
The Braille Reference Sheet has 10 columns with the following headings: letter, whole word signs, dot 5 words, short form words, part word signs, "and, for, of, the, with", dot 4, 5 words, dot 4, 5, 6 words, lower signs, and, final letter. Down the left-hand side of the sheet there are 33 rows with letters and contractions listed alphabetically and common letter contractions such as ‘ch’, ‘sh’, and ‘st’. At the bottom of the second page, also listed alphabetically, is a list of common punctuation marks.
Starting at the left and going across the "B" row, one can see the letter b on its own (b). This is simply the way the letter b should be written in a word.
The following column is entitled "whole word sign" and has the word "but" written under letter b. This means that the letter b, used on it’s own, represents the whole word "but" - without spelling it out using the letters "b-u-t". NB: in row "E" the whole word sign for "en" is also included there alphabetically because I did not want to use up an entire row simply for the "en" contraction. Thus, the sign for "en" (demonstrated in the "lower signs" column) when written on it’s own, represents the word "enough."
Column 3 is "dot 5 words" which, in the "B" row is blank. This means that "dot 5" followed by the letter B does not represent any single word. Down below in the same column under the letter d one can see that the dot 5 followed by the letter d represents the word "day" and under letter k the dot 5 followed by that letter represents the word ‘knowledge.’
In row B under the "short form words" column, nine words are listed in their short form followed by the entire spelled out word in parentheses. For example: bl (blind). This means that the letters "bl" written on their own, represent the word ‘blind’. Also in this column are some short form words that have bold and underlined letters; for example: bec (because). This means that the letters be should be represented by a single sign and the letter c should be written normally. So, looking across the entire B row one has to find the contraction for the letters be (under the column entitled "lower signs") and use that contraction in lieu of the two letters. So, in this case, the word "because" should be written as follows: 2c. So, anytime two or more letters are written in bold print and are underlined, this means those letters should not be spelled out but rather the contraction for those letters should be used, i.e.,
There is only one "Part Word Sign" that begins with the letter b, which is "ble". When spelling out a word that contains those three letters, the contraction should be used in lieu of the letters b-l-e. For example, the word ‘table’ should be brailled as such: ta#.
"And, for, of, the, with" column is dedicated to only those five words which have their own signs. Those signs can be found alphabetically by their first letters. That is, the sign for "and" can be found under that column in row "a", the sign for "with" can be found in row "w", and so on.
Dot 4, 5 column represents contractions for only the following words: those, these, upon, word, and whose. "These" is represented by dots 4 and 5 followed by the contraction for "the", i.e., ~!.
Dot 4, 5, 6 column represents contractions for the words cannot, had, many, spirit, their, and world. "Cannot" is represented by dots 4,5, and 6 followed by the letter "c": _c.
The column entitled "lower signs" lists the signs for 18 words and part words that only use the bottom four dots: 2, 3, 5 and 6. Many of these words are represented by their first letter, which is then "dropped"; for example, "gg" is written with a dropped g, and "his" is written with a dropped h. However, this is not the case for the words "to", "was", and "were". These three words have their own dropped signs.
The last column, "final letter", lists 14 contractions that come at the end of words such as "ment", "ound", and "tion". So the word "nation", for example, would be brailled with the letter "n" followed by the final letter contraction for "ation": n,n.
Finally, at the very bottom of the table, common punctuation marks have been listed alphabetically along with numbers 1-9 and 0. Numbers can be written as I have listed them (1-9 represented by dropped letters "a" through "i" and zero represented by a dropped letter j) or they can be represented simply with the number sign followed by the letters "a" through "i" and number sign followed by the letter "j" for zero.
The Braille Reference Sheet is being published as a double-sided, single page for the convenience of the user. Please remove it from this publication and consider laminating it for durability. Perhaps copy it and share it with your friends, families, and colleagues. Please do not hesitate to contact me with your comments or questions. I will be happy to try out new ideas in future reference sheet editions.
Click Here to Download the Microsoft Word version of the Braille Reference Sheet
Reprinted with the permission of the Council for Exceptional Children. © 2006-2007 Council for Exceptional Children (CEC). All rights reserved.
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