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 Codes
Braille character codes 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 braille text is not capitalised 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 should be placed before braille numbers to differentiate them from the 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 European Braille and the braille code pages contain many country specific 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 authority. The International Blindness Agencies Directory can help to identify braille organisations for each country.