Editor’s Note: Please note that these free lessons are offered as an introduction to the braille code and are not intended to be complete. These lessons are designed to give families and other individuals who are sighted an understanding of braille, but not proficiency. Find out about other options to learn braille.
Imagine the joy on a child’s face when she reaches in her lunchbox and finds a note from her Dad or the delight on a boy’s face when he reads a birthday card from his 4th grade teacher. The “Dots for Families” braille lessons give those who are sighted the opportunity to learn some of the Unified English Braille (UEB) code so they can share in the joy of reading and writing with children.
Learning Enough Braille to Support Children Who Are Braille Readers
Many family members, general education teachers, or paraprofessionals want an overview and to learn enough UEB to understand what a child is reading and writing. The “Dots for Families” braille lessons allow one to get a beginning knowledge of UEB by reviewing key points for each of the 15 lessons and then completing short reading and writing exercises. Not all contractions and rules are included in the 15 lessons, but those completing them will finish with a basic level of understanding of UEB. The final lesson provides information on Nemeth code and one can see basic math problems written in both codes.
The original lessons were developed in 2004 through work Dr. L. Penny Rosenblum did for the Arizona State Schools for the Deaf and Blind Parent Outreach Program for the Visually Impaired. Thirteen years later, Dr. Rosenblum has updated the lessons in UEB.
You can complete the lessons in 2 ways:
- On your own: download the PDF of each lesson, read the key points and then complete the reading and writing exercises. Answer keys are provided.
- In a group: an instructor can download the lessons (including .brf files to emboss the reading exercises and for writing exercise answer keys) and present these in a class setting.
To braille the writing exercises you will need a Perkins braille writer or Perky Duck (a free computer program that allows your computer keyboard to simulate a braille writer).
Free Braille Lessons to Download (PDF)
- Braille Lesson 1: The first 10 letters (a-j)
- Braille Lesson 2: Letters k-z
- Braille Lesson 3: Capital Indicator and Punctuation
- Braille Lesson 4: Numeric Indicator and More Punctuation Marks
- Braille Lesson 5: Alphabetic Wordsigns
- Braille Lesson 6: Strong Contractions, including Dot 5 Initial-Letter Contractions
- Braille Lesson 7: Shortform Words
- Braille Lesson 8: Whole Word and Part-Word Contractions
- Braille Lesson 9: Dots 4-5 and 4-5-6 Contractions
- Braille Lesson 10: Additional Shortform Words
- Braille Lesson 11: More Shortform Words
- Braille Lesson 12: Groupsigns
- Braille Lesson 13: Lower Wordsigns and Lower Groupsigns
- Braille Lesson 14: Final Letter Groupsigns
- Braille Lesson 15: Mathematics — UEB and Nemeth
Braille-Ready Format to Download (BRF)
- Lesson 1:
- Lesson 2
- Lesson 3
- Lesson 4
- Lesson 5
- Lesson 6
- Lesson 7
- Lesson 8
- Lesson 9
- Lesson 10
- Lesson 11
- Lesson 12
- Lesson 13
- Lesson 14
- Lesson 15
UEB (Unified English Braille) Chart from Duxbury
Here is a PDF of a complete list of the letters of the alphabet and contractions (short ways of writing words or parts of words). This list is best if printed on 11×17 inch paper. Available through Duxbury.
See the Beginning Braille 6-Part Webinar Series from California School for the Blind, which was based on these lessons.
- Dots for Families
- What I Shared with a Parent who Didn’t Know Where to Start
- Making Books Meaningful and Motivational
- Introduction to Braille Writing
- Portable Note Taking Devices
- Slate and Stylus
- Braille Embossers
- Braille Lessons in UEB
- How to Download and Use Perky Duck
- Families Learning Braille
- Technology for Children who are Visually Impaired
- Categories of Assistive Technology
- Selecting Computer Software
- Who’s Who in Braille
- The Story of Louis Braille
- Stories of Braille Users
- Anna’s Story
- Haylee’s Story
- An Update on Dots for Families and Stories of Braille Users
- Developing Children’s Braille and Literacy Skills
- Organizations and Companies