Lesson 1, 8-Dot Braille Basics

What is 8-Dot Braille?

8-dot braille is a new format for reading and writing using braille through cells with a maximum of 8 dots per cell. This is done by adding two dots below the known 6 dots;  dot 7 is located below dot 3, and dot 8 is located below dot 6. The 8-dot braille cell consists of two columns, each column has four cells, the dots of the left column are 1, 2, 3, and 7, while the dots in the right column are 4, 5, 6, and 8.

Notice the difference between the next two cells, where the first cell is a complete 6-dot cell, from which the 6-dot braille comes, and the second cell is a full 6-dot cell, which is the basis of the 8-dot computer braille.


When using the braille display that the eighth dot alone or the seventh and eighth dots are used to indicate the position of the cursor, that is, the seventh and eighth dots are displayed by braille below the letter on which the cursor stands, usually, they are raised and lowered accordingly. If you are using the 6-dot table, this will not cause any problems, but if you are using the 8-dot computer table, please note the following:

  • It is recommended that you activate the option of cursor position in the assistive technology tool that you use so that the seventh and eighth dots continuously move up and down to allow you to recognize the letter in its true form.
  • When using the seventh and eighth dots of the cursor, if the letter at which the cursor stands contains the seventh or eighth dot, this dot will remain fixed while the other dot, which is not one of the dots forming the letter, will move up or down.
  • If the letter the cursor stands at contains both the seventh and eighth dots as part of the letter, then in this case the two dots will remain fixed and there will be no raising or lowering of the cursor. In this case, it will be important to rely on a computer or notebook screen reader to hear the letter that the cursor is on.
  • When using the eighth dot alone to denote the cursor, you will notice the movement of the eighth dot only at the sign or the letter at which the cursor stands, unless the eighth dot itself is part of the letter or sign, then it will remain constant without movement.
  • Some screen readers like NVDA allow you to use the rest of the cell dots – that is, dots that are not used to create a letter or sign – to indicate the position of the cursor. For example, the letter “taa” (ت) consists of the dots 2345 when using this property, and if the cursor stops at the letter (ت), the display dots of this letter will remain fixed, while the other display dots, which are 1678, will raise or lower. This feature may be useful when using 8-dot braille.

### How do I make use of 8-dot braille

The importance of 8-dot computer braille lies in the representation of each letter or sign in only one cell instead of two or more cells, which is very useful when writing code and in many computer environments where the user needs to use only one cell for one character or sign.

It is also possible to take advantage of the 8-dot computer Arabic Braille table in writing both Arabic and English using the same table without the need to switch between the two tables, which we will learn about in the next lesson.

Is it very different from regular 6-dot Braille?

Dot representation of all Arabic letters and diacritics in computer braille is as in regular 6-dot braille, both when writing and displaying. So, when writing Arabic letters using the 8-dot table, you will write it as if you were writing on a Perkins Brailler, just as you would do with the 6-dot table.

####Example: بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم (In the Name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful) ⠃⠎⠍⠀⠁⠇⠇⠓⠀⠁⠇⠗⠱⠍⠝⠀⠁⠇⠗⠱⠊⠍

When writing numbers, mathematical signs, and punctuation signs, it differs somewhat from the 6-dot braille table. Therefore, it is necessary to memorize the dots of these signs and make some effort to get used to them, but usually, you will find similarities between the 6-dot and 8-dot tables that facilitate the process of linking them concerning these signs dots, as a great effort has been made in trying to approach the tables together to make it easier for the user.

Notes on the computer table

  • If you are in your first steps of learning braille, it is advised not to start learning 8-dot braille, but rather you must first master the 6-dot braille because it is the most common and also used in literary and academic environments
  • If your braille display contains only 6-dot cells, do not use the 8-dot computer table.
  • There is currently no 8-dot Arabic abbreviations table. If you want to read or write Arabic in abbreviations use the 6-dot braille grade 2 table.
  • It is neither common nor desirable to print in hard copy using an 8-dot computer braille table; rather it is commonly used in computing environments and with braille electronic notebooks.