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The Braille Alphabet

The basic grid of a Braille alphabet character consists of six dots, positioned like the figure six on a die, in two parallel vertical lines of three dots each. From the six dots that make up the basic grid, 64 different signs can be created. Reading direction of Braille is the same as for regular type and the rules for hyphenation that apply for regular fonts also apply in Braille. The guidelines on Braille requirements for pharmaceutical labelling and packaging recommend that an un-contracted Braille alphabet system, conforming to the Marburg Medium format, should be used. In un-contracted Braille, each individual letter of the alphabet, punctuation mark etc. is represented by its own Braille character(s).

Braille Character Sets

Braille character sets consist of letters, numbers, punctuation, symbols and special characters. Some parts of character sets are common between countries whereas other parts differ, e.g. Latin versus other alphabets and accented letters.

Braille Alphabet Letters—Internationally Standardised

The letters a-z are common and standard for most braille country tables.

Note:It is recommended that there is no capitalisation in Braille text on pharmaceutical cartons.

Braille Numbers—Internationally Standardised

Numbers use the same Braille characters as the letter symbols A to J - with the exception of France.

Note:When indicating numbers the number sign proceeds the Braille number to differentiate them from letter symbols A to J. In Europe the number is always terminated with a space. See example below.

Note:French Antoine Braille number symbols are unique characters and do not conform to the international numbers standard.

Note: A letter sign is required to be inserted between numbers and letters when numbers are immediately followed by letters. See example below.

Braille Punctuation Marks

Great Britain and the United States are two of the few places in the world that use a period to indicate the decimal place. Many other countries use a comma instead. The decimal separator is also called the radix character. Likewise, while the U.K. and U.S. use a comma to separate groups of thousands, many other countries use a period instead, and some countries separate thousands groups with a space. In ink print, thousand separators and decimal places may be either  “.” or  “,” depending on the country, but in Braille they are usually as shown above. However, please confirm with the relevant country Braille authority that the correct Braille character is being used.

Nationally Different Special Braille Alphabet Characters in Europe

It must be stressed that punctuation, abbreviated characters and accented characters vary from country to country.

In the artwork creation process, the Braille character set to be used should be verified as appropriate for the country in which the medicinal product is sold. The Marketing Authorisation Holder (MAH) and packaging supplier must check all Braille artwork for current accuracy and relevance. The European Braille Guidance area of this website, supported by RNIB and EBU, contains information on many country specific European Braille codes. The International Blindness Agencies Directory can help to identify Braille organisations for each country.

If multi-market, multilingual packs are being produced with Braille text, the correct character sets should be identified and included in the artwork.

Note:While every care has been taken to check the accuracy of the symbols used in each language, we cannot guarantee the accuracy of this information. Please confirm Braille character sets with the relevant local Braille authorityThe International Blindness Agencies Directorycan help to identify Braille organisations for each country.