Braille brain!

Learning braille is so weird!

There are grades in braille. In grade 1 you learn the alphabet, and you learn that some of the letters also stand for words when they stand alone in a sentence, for example, the letter 'b' on its own means 'but', and the letter 'l' means 'like' and the letter 's' means 's'.

In grade 2, you find our that some combinations of letters have their own braille characters. So, there is a character for 'c' and there is a character for 'h', but then there is a character for 'ch'. Some of these 'short-forms' also stand for words, for example, 'ch' on its own in a sentence stands for 'child'. There are other rules that govern these short forms though, such as the 'ch' short-form for child can't be used in the word 'childhood', though the character 'ch' can be - 'childhood' in grade 2 braille is spelt ''ch'ildhood'.

Where there are two possible short-forms which can be used, the one which includes the most letters takes precedent. So, for example, there is a short-form for 'th', but there is also a short-form for 'the', in the word 'there', the short-form for 'the' would be used --> ''the're'.

Confused? I don't blame you. It's not exactly like learning to reading English, just with dots.

This morning I had to read a passage I had read twice before already. I knew every braille letter and short-form on the page. I really did, but it took me so frustratingly long. I second guessed myself on every word. My difficulty was over such words as 'the', 'f,' 't', three characters next to one another and I couldn't figure out what they were, there weren't any vowel - the-f-t - that wasn't right? I was sure I must be reading that wrong.

As I tell my kids, it's all about perseverance, one day I'll get it! One day all these funny little groupings of letters that seems so counter-intuitive to me right now will glide under my fingertips unnoticed!