Braille Signage

ADA signage is sometimes called Braille signage mainly due to the fact that these signs carry Braille translations of the sign copy on them. The Braille translations are found directly underneath the tactile letters of these signs, or in some cases directly underneath the pictogram used for the sign (which is sometimes the case when the signs made do not use text but only universally recognizable pictograms). The Braille translations found on these signs use Grade II Braille and there are many reasons why this is so.

Before we tackle the whys of such a decision, let us first understand what Grade II Braille is, and what it is used for. Grade II Braille is a tactile translation of words and sentences that uses dots in contracted form. This means that instead of translating each word with the use of dots that represent individual letters, this particular type of Braille translates words into a series of dots that consist of either a combination of two or three letters. Grade II Braille also carries dots that represent entire words and commonly used suffixes or prefixes, which can then be connected to the entire words to form another totally different word without it having to carry numerous groups of dots.

Grade II Braille Contractions are Ideal for Braille Signage

Braille Signs

Also called part-word contractions and whole word contractions, this type of Braille has around 189 dot combinations representing these. There are some rules that need to be followed when the use of Grade II Braille is needed. For example, you can only use these part-word contractions in whole words when the letters fall in the same syllable. These can also be used when these are to be placed in overlapping minor syllable divisions. If there are major overlap divisions however and two base words are used to form one word, these part-word contractions should not be used.

Aside from the usual rules that need to be followed when it comes to the use of Grade II Braille on Braille signage, you should also be aware that the creation of these dots on your ADA signs, are also subject to specific rules. For one, the size and the spacing of the dots used on your signage need to follow the right spacing and sizing as dictated by the ADA. You need to conform to rules set for distances between contracted symbols, between dots, and between corresponding words. You also need to follow rules regarding the height of these dots as well as the diameter and the shape.

Other rules that need to be followed when using Grade II Braille on your ADA signs include rules for the use of a capital letter at the start of the word and when the word is in all caps. For words in all caps, these need to be translated into the lower case form of the word. If only the first letter is to be capitalized, such as in proper nouns, an extra one dot at the beginning of the word indicates this. If you really want the entire word to be translated into all caps (for special situations), you simply add two extra dots at the beginning of the word.

As complex as Grade II Braille may seem, there is a very good reason why this is used for Braille signage translations. Imagine using Grade I Braille on your signs and you have words that are 10 to 12 letters long. That would mean that your Braille will also be 10 to 12 dot combinations long. With Grade II Braille, your signs will only carry a few dots for such long words, with commonly used long words carrying even only one set of dots that is equivalent to a one letter translation for Grade I Braille.

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