Braille is a system of touch reading and writing in which raised dots represent letters, numbers, punctuation marks, and other symbols. It is written in horizontal lines from left to right across each page, much as print is written. Braille users read by moving a finger or fingers from left to right along each line. Both hands are usually involved in the reading process. The average reading speed is about 125 words per minute, but greater speeds of up to 200 words per minute are possible.
The braille cell, an arrangement of six dots, is the basic unit for reading and writing braille. Sixty-three different patterns are possible from these six dots.
By using braille, blind people have access to the written word. They can become aware of different conventions such as spelling, punctuation, paragraphing, and footnotes. Most of all, blind individuals can have access to a wide range of reading materials - educational and recreational reading as well as other practical materials. Written matter that is part of daily adult life is equally important. These materials include contracts, regulations, insurance policies, directories, appliance instructions, and cookbooks, to name a few. Also through braille, blind people can pursue hobbies and cultural enrichment with such materials as music scores, hymnals, craft instructions, playing cards, and games.
Braille has undergone continuing modification, particularly the addition of contractions, which represent groups of letters or whole words that appear frequently in a language. The use of contractions permits faster braille reading and helps reduce the size of braille books.
BANA's mission is to assure literacy for tactile readers through standardization of braille and/or tactile graphics.
BANA's purpose is to promote and to facilitate the use, teaching, and production of braille. It publishes rules, interprets and renders opinions pertaining to braille in all existing and future codes. It deals with codes now in existence or to be developed in the future, in collaboration with other countries using English braille. In exercising its function and authority, BANA considers the effects of its decisions on other existing braille codes and formats; the ease of production by various methods; and acceptability to readers.
The Braille Authority of North America is made up of the member organizations shown below. One representative of each member organization serves on the BANA Board.
BANA works largely through committees composed of transcribers, braille readers, education and rehabilitation professionals, and Board Members. These committees are charged with updating the braille codes, formats, and techniques as well as the on-going business of BANA. Changes to the braille codes may be suggested by readers, transcribers, and producers. Before changes are made, the committees carefully study possible impact on readability and usability of braille as well as the benefit the change would provide. Proposed changes or revisions are submitted to all other technical committees to avoid conflict with existing braille codes. The BANA Board issues final approval for adoption and dissemination.
BANA committees are:
Hard copies of all BANA publications are available for purchase, and many are available electronically from our website. For further information on obtaining print, braille, or electronic copies, visit www.brailleauthority.org.
Jennifer Dunnam, Chair
c/o National Federation of the Blind
200 East Wells Street at Jernigan Place
Baltimore, MD 21230
The Braille Authority of North America is a member of the International Council on English Braille. For more information about ICEB, visit www.iceb.org.