Memorizing New UEB Symbols through Patterns

Last week, we posted an overview about the U.S. transition to UEB, unified English Braille. While the Braille Authority of North America has posted a useful guide to the updated symbols and rules, I’ve been using UEB for nearly a year and still find myself looking up how to use the new punctuation marks.

Sharon Monthei, author of the McDuffy Reader braille curriculum, suggested to me in an interview a few weeks ago to look for patterns in the UEB symbols. The idea seemed foreign at first, but then I remembered how most of us learned braille: all of our dot-5 contractions, then the dot 4-5, etc. So, I’ve assembled this quick guide sorted by the preceding characters. For now, this guide only lists the new symbols, though you should review BANA’s document for the new formatting markers.

Screen reader users, please note that we are using a font to display the symbols visually as well. Your synthetic speech engine will read some strange characters after each description!

Dot-4 Symbols

  • Dollar sign: dot-4, s; @s
  • Transcriber’s note (opening): dot-4, dot-4-6, gh-sign; @.<
  • Transcriber’s note (closing): dot-4, dot-4-6, ar-sign; @.>
  • Tilde (~): dot-4, in-sign; @9
  • Less than (<): dot-4, gh-sign; @<
  • Greater than (<): dot-4, ar-sign; @>

Dot-4-5 Symbols

  • Degree (°): dot-4-5, j; ^j
  • Paragraph (¶): dot-4-5, p; ^p
  • Section (§): dot-4-5, s; ^s
  • Double-quotation mark (opening): dot-4-5, dot-2-3-6; ^8
  • Double-quotation mark (opening): dot-4-5, dot-3-5-6; ^0

Dot-4-6 Symbols

  • Percent (%): dot-4-6, dot-3-5-6; .0
  • Underscore (_): dot-4-6, dot-3-6; .-

Dot-4-5-6 Symbols

  • Curly brackets (opening): dot-4-5-6, gh-sign_<
  • Curly brackets (closing): dot-4-5-6, ar-sign; _>
  • Backslash: dot-4-5-6, ch-sign; _*
  • Bullet: dot-4-5-6, dot-2-5-6; _4

Dot-5 Symbols

  • Asterisk (*): dot-5, dot-3-5; “9
  • Long dash (——): dot-5, dot-6, dot-3-6; “,-
  • Parenthesis (opening): dot-5, gh-sign; “<
  • Parenthesis (closing): dot-5, arising; “>

Dot-5 Symbols

  • Equals (=): dot-5, dot-2-3-5-6; ”7
  • Plus (+): dot-5, dot-2-3-5; ”6
  • Minus (-): dot-5, dot-3-6; “-
  • Multiplication (×): dot-5, dot-2-3-6; “8
  • Division (÷): dot-5, wt-sign; “/

Dot-6 Symbols

  • Single quotation marks (opening): dot-6, dot-2-3-6; ,8
  • Single quotation marks (closing): dot-6, dot-3-5-6; ,0

And one more…

As the BANA document states:

The period, dot, and decimal will always be shown as dots 256. The ellipsis is shown as three of these in a row.

Do you have a technique to remember these symbols? Post below in the comments!

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Corbb O'Connor
Corbb, a blind entrepreneur, coordinates the outreach and marketing efforts for the Institute on Blindness at Louisiana Tech University as an independent consultant.

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