this activity you will learn more about Braille and its structure,
and then design an experiment to test memory and touch sensitivity
in yourself and your classmates.
This activity page will offer:
introduction to the layout of the Braille cell
experience in communicating with Braille
window into the communication system of the blind
opportunity to develop a method of inquiry that will compare/contrast
raised dots with raised characters
arena in which to apply higher thinking skills in the
creation of unique systems of tactile communication
Braille is a communication system based upon a pattern
of raised dots. The six dot positions are arranged within
a rectangular cell. Each cell is formed by two side-by-side
rows, each containing three dots. Letters, numbers, sounds,
common words, and other concepts are represented by the
pattern of dots present in each cell. This chart illustrates
the letters of the Braille alphabet.
Ball point pen (with flexible plastic shell)
1- Dot Raising
the Braille chart shown here. Notice how all patterns
arise from a cell that is 3 dots tall and 2 dots wide.
Make a stack of several sheets of scrap paper. On the
sheet, use your pen to press down a cell with 6 dots.
The entire cell should be about the size of small, pinky
fingernail. NOTE: When forming the cell, press down firmly,
but not hard enough to damage or break the pen. The pen
should be held straight up and down so that it imprints
a perfect circle at the point of paper contact.
the top sheet of paper over and feel the raised dots.
Can you count all six? Are some fingertips more dot sensitive
than others are?
this dot-raising technique, write your name in Braille.
Once your name is completed, exchange this Braille sample
with a partner. Describe the ease or difficulty in decoding
a separate sheet of paper, write a one-sentence message
in Braille. Add your Braille initials to the paper. The
instructor will collect these messages and distribute
them to the class.
the sentence you are given. Once you have read the message,
identify the sender's initials.
NOTE: Students MUST use a stack of paper when pressing down
to produce dot imprints. Without the stack, both the table
surface and pen may easily be damaged. Also, remind students
not to press down too hard with the pen. Excessive force
can damage the ball of the pen tip. To prevent cracked pens,
use pens that have a flexible plastic shell.
Let's find out why Braille uses a dot system instead
of actual raised letters.Using the paper-raising technique
you learned in Part 1, design a method of inquiry that uses
the scientific method to compare the effectiveness of reading
dot cells against reading raised alphabet characters.
your inquiry strategy. What materials will you need? What
techniques are necessary?
Which letters or letter will make the best test subject?
Why? Will the size of the raised letter make a difference?
the test subjects be allowed to see the raised letters?
your method of inquiry has been selected, pick a partner.
Use your own inquiry strategy to test your partner's ability
to identify cells and letters.
switch roles and become the subject of your partner's
you create a communication system using a raised dot pattern?
Take a look below at the information needed to be communicated.
Think about the arrangement and exact concepts that need
to be conveyed. Then, create a dot communication system
using your unique cell layout design.
1 through 5
1 through 50
on a 12-hour clock
on a 24-hour clock Hours and 15-minute intervals on
a 12-hour clock
some fingertips more sensitive than others are? Is there
a difference between your dominant vs. your non-dominant
hand? Design a method of inquiry that would uncover if
any of your fingertips were better adapted to read Braille.
you locate places in your world where Braille is used
as an ancillary communication system to printed language?
What type of information is printed in Braille? Where
is it found? Should all printed signs be in Braille?
"Understanding Braille" and "Increasing Brainpower"
were contributed by Michael Dispezio, a Massachusetts-based
science writer and author of "Critical Thinking Puzzles" and
"Awesome Experiments in Light & Sound" (Sterling Publishing
Advisors for this guide
Glickstein, Science Departmant, Waring School, Glouchester,
Corrine Lowen, Science Department, Wayland Public Schools,
Suzanne Panico, Science Department, Fenway High School, Boston,