Skip main navigation

Braille: Practical Uses and Considerations

Many people experiencing vision loss resulting in blindness or low vision are intimidated by the idea of learning and using braille. Most people assume that they would only need braille if they were to lose all vision. It can be helpful, however, for people to understand ways they could use braille to assist in common tasks or activities throughout their day. It is important to consider ways that braille can be used to become more efficient and independent.

What is Braille?

Braille is a tactual code developed to enable people with blindness or low vision to read and write materials in a way that allows for independent access. Braille uses a series of dots that can be created manually or electronically. These dots represent letters, words, numbers, and related symbols typically seen in print. Braille is presented in a series of six dots, and these dots in various combinations make up the code for reading and writing braille.

Learning Braille

While learning braille may seem intimidating, this common feeling can typically be overcome quickly with practice. Working with a blind rehabilitation specialist is one way to ensure that you learn braille from a professional. Blind rehabilitation specialists, namely vision rehabilitation therapists, understand the process of teaching braille in a method that works for your individual needs. Additionally, vision rehabilitation therapists can help you find resources to continue your practice and find ways to use braille to increase your efficiency in completing your daily tasks.

Practical Uses

Before learning braille, people often assume that it is only used for large amounts of reading, such as books or large files. However, many people use braille to supplement what they may read with magnification or electronically. Braille has numerous practical uses that can help someone to either rest their eyes or use tactile methods for quick tasks, therefore allowing them to use their vision for other tasks at a later time.

Practical Use Examples:

  • Labeling and identifying medication
  • Reading signage such as public restrooms or room numbers
  • Reading elevator floor buttons and confirming correct floors
  • Marking an appliance in the home or workplace
  • Recording a phone number, email address, or location
  • Taking brief notes in a meeting
  • Labeling a file or document for retrieval later
  • Recreational tasks such as playing cards

For those interested in completing these types of tasks quickly and efficiently, braille may be one of many great solutions. While some people do go on to use braille for literary purposes such as reading large books or other materials, many people find the uses noted above to be very helpful.

Additional Considerations

While learning braille can seem daunting at first, it is important to note that there are resources and support for learning, both directly from your instructor and elsewhere. It is also helpful for some people to know that they can decide how and when they use braille, based on their individual goals and interests. Additionally, while the code can seem overwhelming at first exposure, there are patterns and repetition to braille. For example, the first ten letters of the alphabet can also represent numbers. In this instance, once someone learns letters A-J, they have also learned numbers 1-10. Often understanding these patterns and considerations can build confidence and interest in learning the basic code and ultimately implementing ways it can fit their needs. Learning braille provides people with vision loss a method to not only maintain their independence, but also expand their abilities and to increase their efficiency and potential safety.

Blind Rehabilitation Services

Blind rehabilitation services can help you or someone you know learn braille as part of a comprehensive rehabilitation plan. If you or someone you know could benefit from meeting with a blind rehabilitation specialist, and you are a service member or veteran, you may be eligible for services from VA Blind Rehabilitation Services. Otherwise, contact your state vocational rehabilitation agency for more information.


Blind Rehabilitation Services

State Vocational Rehabilitation