DotsPlus® Braille is a set of tactile fonts that permits virtually any computer document written in a language based on the roman alphabet to be printed in a form readable by a blind person. Standard text printed in the six-dot DotsPlus® Braille font reads very much like grade 1 (uncontracted) standard braille. The eight-dot DotsPlus® Braille font set is identical except that most double cell characters of the six-dot fon are single cells in the eight-dot font. Capital letters in the eight-dot font for example are the familiar single cell letters of eight-dot computer braille. They have an extra dot (dot-7 position) on the left side of the row just below the bottom of the standard six-dot lower case letter cell.
Common punctuation marks are not braille but are small graphic symbols. Most feel like literary braille punctuation marks but, unlike braille punctuation, are distinguishable out of context from letters. The vast majority of characters that appear in more complex literature (math, science, computer programs, accents on foreign characters in English literature, etc.) are graphic symbols shaped much like the corresponding print symbols.
DotsPlus® Braille overcomes four problems that plague braille:
The DotsPlus® Braille paradigm was proposed in the early 1990's, but it was not feasible to use it except for very limited purposes until the commercial introduction of Tiger embosser technology in 2000. The Tiger Tactile Graphics and Braille Embosser technology developed by the Science Access Project now provides the "missing link". TIGER technology permits documents to be prepared using standard computer applications and embossed for blind readers just as one prints a document on a standard printer for sighted readers.
Literary braille is fine for "plain text' but is difficult or unusable for more complex literature. Our hypothesis is that both blind readers and people who prepare materials for them will prefer DotsPlus® Braille over current tactile methods for most complex literature. Small scale tests conducted with Oregon middle, high school, and university student volunteers support this hypothesis. Funding for larger scale tests has not been available, but users of Tiger technology embossers can now "vote with their fingers".
Since none of the WorldWide Web clients are yet able to display raised images, a tactile example of DotsPlus® Braille and other Tiger samples can be obtained with the help of the U.S. PostalService by contacting info@ViewPlus.com.