Happy National Braille Week!

Charlotte is sitting at a desk; she has her hands on a BrailleNote (Computer with braille keyboard)

This week, 5-11 October 2015, we are celebrating National Braille Week. Braille is the international tactile writing system used by people with visual impairment and is named after Louis Braille, who created it in 1824, when he was just 15, as an improvement to night writing. At the Royal National College for the Blind (RNC), all of our younger learners aged 16-25 are offered braille as an addition to their individualised timetables, 54% of them are currently studying braille there is a waiting list for new first year students who are keen to start!


RNC student Charlotte, completed her Level 3 braille exam last year and has just started French braille, says “I love braille; I was born totally blind so I started learning it when I was four. I think it’s very useful and valuable to read and write. I’m a big fan and think it’s really interesting.” As well as being an avid braille reader herself, Charlotte was keen to pass on her knowledge, “I’ve been teaching braille to a pupil at a local Hereford school since January 2014. It’s been really fun and I’m hoping to work in a primary school in the future so this placement has been really useful and valuable for me.”


For those non-braillists who think that braille is no longer necessary RNC student Ben says “Braille is absolutely still relevant, without it I wouldn’t be here. I’ve been using braille since my second year of primary school and find it so accessible; I really enjoy my braille technology lessons at College. I have a Perkins brailler at home for writing and loads of braille books.”

Braille Teacher Rachel Usher is sitting opposite Ben during a braille lesson. Rachel has a box in front of her with her notes on embossed braille paper and Ben is using a Perkins Brailler.













RNC Braille Teacher and self-confessed ‘braille anorak’ Elaine Vonberg says “I enjoy teaching braille and all the challenges that come with it. A lot of students who are new to braille think they can’t do it and then there is this amazing moment a few lessons in when they realise that they actually can do it.  It’s really nice to see because it builds their confidence and helps towards their independence.” Read more about RNC Braille Teacher Elaine


Braille characters are small rectangular blocks called cells that contain tiny palpable bumps called raised dots. The number and arrangement of these dots distinguish one character from another. All braille lessons at RNC are taught on a one to one basis, there are three levels;

  • Level 1: uncontracted braille where one cell represents one letter.
  • Level 2: contracted braille where letters can be merged, for example ‘ing’ can be one sign.
  • Level 3: the practical application of braille can be used for things like mathematical signs, email addresses and post codes.

Find out more about braille, and the other courses available at RNC


If you are interested in finding out more about RNC, please call us on 01432 376 621 or email info@rnc.ac.uk


Article written by Bik Lee, Digital Media Officer at RNC


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