So far, we’ve explained the basics of uncontracted braille, otherwise known as Grade I braille. Uncontracted braille comprises the alphabet, numbers, punctuation and some composition symbols. All words are spelled out in full, with no shorterned versions.
Contracted braille, or Grade II braille, uses a number of “contractions” which are basically used to make words shorter. There are 189 contractions in total. Most literature that is embossed in braille is written in contracted braille.
Embossed braille takes up more space than print, so producing a shorthand version of braille helps make braille literature less bulky, and also aids speed of reading for braille users. The braille version of J.K Rowlings’ “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” runs to 13 volumes!
Unified English Braille (UEB)
In 2005, Australia adopted a new international braille code, called the Unified English Braille (UEB) code. This new code simplifies the learning of braille, as some contractions have been removed. UEB also combines literary, mathematics, computer and other technical codes into one unified braille system – in the past, Australian children who are blind had to learn different codes to english, mathematics, computing and chemisty/science.
The braille code for music however, is already its own international code, and is therefore not affected by UEB. (Reference: #4)
For more information on contracted braille, visit the ‘expanding the code’ section of the American Foundation for the Blind’s BrailleBug website.