Braille ASCII

Braille ASCII

Braille ASCII (or more formally The North American Braille ASCII Code) is a subset of the ASCII character set which uses 64 of the printable ASCII characters to represent all possible dot combinations in six-dot Braille. It was developed around 1969 and, in spite of originally being known as North American Braille ASCII, it is now used internationally.


Braille ASCII uses the 64 ASCII characters between 32 and 95 inclusive. All capital letters in ASCII correspond to their equivalent values in Braille. Note however that, unlike standard print, there is only one Braille symbol for each letter of the alphabet. Therefore, in Braille, all letters are lower-case by default, unless preceded by a capitalization sign (dot 6).

The numbers 1 through 0 correspond to the letters a through j, except that they are lowered or dropped lower in the Braille cell. For example, C represents dots 1-4, and 3 is dots 2-5. The other symbols may or may not correspond to their Braille values. For example, / represents dots 3-4 in Braille ASCII, and this is the Braille slash, but = represents dots 1-2-3-4-5-6, and this is not the equal sign in Braille.

Braille ASCII more closely corresponds to the Nemeth Braille Code for mathematics than it does to the English Literary Braille Code, as the Nemeth Braille code is what it was originally based upon.

If Braille ASCII is viewed in a word processor, it will look like a jumbled mix of letters, numbers, and punctuation. However, there are several fonts available, many of them free, which allow the user to view and print Braille ASCII as simulated Braille, i.e. a graphical representation of Braille characters


Braille ASCII was originally designed to be a means for storing and transmitting six-dot Braille in a digital format, and this continues to be its primary usage today. Because it uses standard characters available on computer keyboards, it can be easily typed and edited with a standard word processor. Many Braille embossers receive their input in Braille ASCII, and nearly all Braille translation software can import and export this format.

Several institutions which produce Braille materials distribute BRF files. BRF files are files which primarily contain Braille ASCII, but also include control characters, which effect how the Braille is printed or displayed. These files can then be embossed with a Braille embosser or printed, read on a Refreshable Braille display, or back-translated into standard text, which can then be read by a Screen reader or other similar program. Many find BRF files to be a more convenient way to receive brailed content, and it has increasing use as a distribution format.

Unicode includes a means for encoding eight-dot Braille, however, Braille ASCII continues to be the preferred format for encoding six-dot Braille.

Braille ASCII values

The following table lists all of the ASCII characters, their binary, decimal and hex values, as well as the dot combinations which they represent in Braille ASCII and the Braille itself in Unicode.

ee also

* List of binary codes

External links

* [ About Braille: Codes, Formats, Computers, and Braille ASCII]
* [ Early History of Braille Translators and Embossers]
* [ Representing and Displaying Braille]
* [ Web-Braille fact sheet from the Library of Congress]

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