Braille Contractions

The braille on this website thus far is “uncontracted braille,” also called “grade one braille.” It is a letter for letter substitution of braille for print and is the foundation of the braille code. Uncontracted braille consists of the alphabet, punctuation and numbers. It is used primarily by people who are learning to read braille.

“Contracted braille,” also called “grade two braille,” uses contractions. Contractions are short ways of writing braille. They make reading and writing braille faster, and the braille takes less space. Contracted braille, often referred to as literary braille, is the standard braille used for general purposes such as books, menus, reports, letters, bus schedules, and invitations.

Charlotte's Web in print and braille

The children’s book Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White takes two big volumes in braille.

Some contractions stand for complete words. For example, the letter p by itself means people; c is can; v is very. Following is a chart of letters that stand for complete words. They are often called alphabet contractions. The letters a, i, and o are not on the list because they already stand for words: Drive a car. I love you.
O, no!

Alphabet Contractions

b
but
c
can
d
do
e
every
f
from
g
go
h
have
j
just
k
knowledge
l
like
m
more
n
not
p
people
q
quite
r
rather
s
so
t
that
u
us
v
very
w
will
x
it
y
you
z
as

Every word in this sentence is a contraction except “if” and “try.” Can you read it?

capitaly c d x if y w j tryperiod

Some contractions represent letters within a word and also represent a complete word:
All six dots are raised to make the word “for.”
All six dots are also used to represent the letters f-o-r within a word such as “fort.”

Some contractions require two cells and stand for a group of letters within a word:
Dot 6 and the letter n represent the letters “ation” as in nation.

Other contractions require two braille cells and stand for a word:
Dot 5 and the letter f is the word “father.”

And, there is a long list of short form words:
The braille letters cd make the word “could.”
The braille letters tm made the word “tomorrow.”

There are 265 contractions and short form words in all. In addition, braille signs for $, %, # @ *, weights and measures, monetary systems and many other special symbols make it possible to put into braille virtually anything written in print.