Braille Signs

One of the rules that you need to follow when you create Braille signs for your business is the rule where you need to use Grade 2 Braille on your signs. Not Grade 1, not Grade 3, but Grade 2. There is a good reason for why the ADA has mandated that the Braille translations on ADA signs be in Grade 2 Braille, however before we tackle that reason, let us first differentiate these three Braille grades.

Grade 1 Braille is the most basic form of all three Braille types, and this particular type of Braille consists of groups of dots that represent a letter, a number or a punctuation sign. Each cell of dots can only represent one character, and cannot be used to stand for abbreviations or words. This is considered the first type of Braille taught to those who are beginning to learn this tactile tool.

Grade 3 Braille, on the other hand, is considered the shorthand of this system of dots. This grade of Braille is not standardized however, and despite the 300 plus contractions (which means each cell of dots is a shortened version of a word, syllable or letter combinations) is relegated to personal use and not for publication needs. The contractions found in this particular grade use vowel omissions and reduced spacing to decrease the amount of space used for the creation of phrases, sentences, and paragraphs.

As for Grade 2 Braille, you will notice with some research that this particular grade is not only the recommended form for ADA signs, but it is also the most commonly used one all around. This is because this particular grade of Braille uses contractions as well, but this time, these are standardized ones that consist of some of the most commonly used combinations of letters to form syllables, a shortened representation of a commonly used word, and even whole words. You will also find dots in this particular tactile set that represent suffixes, prefixes and double letter contractions. For people to properly use and understand this particular grade of Braille, a set of rules, method of usage, and system of styles is put in place.

Now, the reason why the ADA chose to use Grade 2 Braille for Braille signs is actually very easy to discern. Since this particular type of Braille is not as complex as Grade 3 Braille, but not too simple as Grade 1 Braille, it is then deemed ideal for signage use. Also, the use of contractions and whole words in this system makes it easier to create translations that are not too long and will take more time to read, which could very well be the case if Grade 1 Braille was used.

Aside from the need to use Grade 2 Braille for the translations needed on ADA signs, sign makers also need to ensure that the Braille they put on signs are domed. When you say domed, this means that each dot in each cell should have a round, smooth surface, as opposed to the past Braille dots used in the past on these signs which were sometimes square-ish or have flat tops.

You also need to remember that the Braille translations on your Braille signs should follow the very specific rules set by the ADA for positioning, dot spacing, cell spacing and the like. This is to ensure that there is no confusion in the reading of these dot translations of words. Also, your signs should have a corresponding text version of these dots, also in a tactile form.

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