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Braille Numbers

The number sign (dots 3456) in braille is a “brain-switcher.” We refer to the braille number sign as a “brain-switcher” because, when we feel it, it tells us that what is coming next is not a letter. The number sign touches your reading finger pads at the first side bottom, plus the second side top, middle, and bottom, just like a backwards print uppercase L. When you feel that “brain-switching” number sign, practice thinking of numbers, rather than letters. Remember to keep moving to the right after settling your fingers on the braille number sign in order to accurately read the numbers that follow it. With practice, you'll learn to recognize numbers more quickly. When transcribing braille numbers into print, remember that there is no print equivalent to the braille number sign. The number sign in braille is not the same as the print number sign, or crosshatch. 

In what follows, numbers written next to each other represent dots in one cell. For example: the number sign is dots 3456, that is, dots 3, 4, 5, and 6, all in the same braille cell. 

Here's what each braille number feels like as it passes under your reading finger pads. As you read the following chart, try to imagine how the dots feel on the reading pads of your fingers.

  1. dot 1
    first side top

  2. dots 12
    first side top and middle

  3. dots 14
    first side top, second side top

  4. dots 145
    first side top, second side top and middle

  5. dots 15
    first side top, second side middle

  6. dots 124
    first side top and middle, second side top

  7. dots 1245
    first side top and middle, second side top and middle

  8. dots 125
    first side top and middle, second side middle

  9. dots 24
    first side middle, second side top

  10. dots 245
    first side middle, second side top and middle

Keep in mind that 0 really is a number. When you read a group of numbers, read all the zeros. When brailling, always braille a 0 with the number sign followed by dots 245. Dots 135 represent the letter o only. It's customary to speak the letter "o" for zero. In print, the letter o and number zero look alike; in braille, the letter o and the zero look completely different.

Here are a few hints for some of those numbers that might be giving you trouble.

The 9 can be confused with the 5, a 6 can be confused with a 4, and the 8 can be confused with the 0. Thinking in little pictures can help. 

Feel the number 95.The 9 and 5 together make a little mountain-shape. It's Mount 95. In your imagination, you can climb up the 9 and then slide down the 5. Remember not to let your fingers go up and down--just do a little climb in your imagination.

The number 64 makes the top of a box-shape. Box 64 might have the winning number! The number 80 makes the bottom of a box. 

Sometimes a bit of rhyming can help with numbers. If you're having trouble remembering the difference between 2 and 3, it might help to remember that 3 rhymes with c. Both the 3 and the letter c are made with dots 14.To remember 8 and 9, say aloud, “h  8” and “i 9.” Notice the long letter a sound in “h” and “8.” Notice the long letter i sound in “i” and “9.”

If you need more help, or if you have further questions, always feel free to contact your Hadley School instructor.

(Submitted by: Linda Perry, Martha Pamperin, Vileen Shah and Susan Fisher; Last updated: October 21, 2009)

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