My Experience Learning Braille

by Chelsey Zumpano

I was in kindergarten when I was first introduced to braille. They had me play with different textures that were really sofft, to ruff like sandpaper, and even played with play-doh to help with which helped with my dexterity. But my first braille teacher didn’t explain that braille was there to help me, so I didn’t like going to do it and I didn’t like how it felt at first.

I started really learning braille in third grade and this time with a better teacher. I remember using these wooden alphabet blocks that had the braille letter on one side and the print letter on the other. The braille was also made out of wood.

At first certain letters were confusing like n and z because N is dots 1 3 4 5 and z is dots 1 3 5 6, so just a few dots off from one another. D, (dots 1 4 5), and f, (dots 1 2 4), are mirror images of each other. Some more letters that are mirror images are r, (1 2 3 5), w (2 4 5 6), e (1 5), i (4 2), h (1 2 5), and j (2 4 5). But eventually I got it.

Then I moved on to punctuation and sentences. After that I moved on to grade 2 braille and learned contractions. In braille contractions are short hand, but we still use the regular print contractions like can’t, don’t and shouldn’t. Our contractions are things letter l, (by itself), standing for like, r standing for rather, d standing for do and g standing for go. Then there are others like wh standing for which, dots 2 3 d 5 6 standing for with, dots 1 2 3 5 6 standing for of, and many more.

There is also letter sign, (dots 5 6), when you use a letter by itself and a number sign, (3 4 5 6), because letters a-j are numbers.

This doesn’t include learning Unified English Braille, (UEB), which is a new braille code. I learned UEB on my own as an adult.

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