Learning Qur’an Arabic Braille

To read the Qur’an in Braille, you’ll need to first learn Qur’anic Arabic Braille.  

Assalamu-Alaykum and welcome to this FAQ.

In this section, I’ll try and shed some light on what Qur’anic Arabic Braille is, how easy it may be to learn, and provide clarity around where to obtain more information and advice about learning it.

How does Braille work?

Before we can start discussing Qur’anic Arabic Braille, we need to take a step back and consider Braille, both in conceptual terms, and as an actual tool to help those without sight read.

Braille by Ralph Aichinger CCBy

Braille by Ralph Aichinger CCBy

Braille is a universal system of dots, devised by Louis Braille in the 18th century, which enables people without sight to read.  Each Braille letter or cell as it’s termed, consists of six dots, arranged in a pattern of three dots down and two across.  Different combinations of these dots make up the different letters of the alphabet and each of these combinations can consist of up to six dots.  Non-sighted people feel the dots with the pads of their index fingers and which hand they use to feel is dependent on the individual. Please note, Braille is always read from left to right, regardless of the language being read.

How easy is it to learn Braille?

It takes a long time to build up enough sensitivity in the fingers to distinguish between the different Braille cells as in older people especially, the fingers have been exposed to the usual stresses and strains of life which over time, dull the motor neurones which control the sensitivity of the fingers.

Reading Braille by Christian Liechti CCBy

Reading Braille by Christian Liechti CCBy

Children find it much easier to learn Braille as their hands haven’t been exposed to the rigors of everyday living.  On average it takes the fingers of a non-sighted child around two years to become sensitive enough to differentiate the different shapes made by the Braille dots.  Non-sighted children start learning Braille around the age of five, the same age as a sighted child would start learning to read print.  By the age of seven, most non-sighted children can distinguish the different Braille letters. Like their sighted peers, they then start learning the rudiments around reading and writing.

For adults, the amount of time it takes to feel the different Braille cells is very dependent on external factors such as the kinds of things the pads of the fingers have been exposed to and a person’s own perseverance.  On average though, it takes around three years to learn Braille.  As most adults already learning Braille are literate, it takes less time to absorb the language element into learning.

What is Grade 2 or Contracted Braille?

Braille by its very nature is very big; roughly, one side of print equates to three sides of Braille.  You need to keep in mind at this point that people reading Braille can only feel one cell of Braille at a time.  This means that whereas in print, letters are accented or dotted with symbols either above or below the actual letter, in Braille, the accent needs to sit beside the letter in question, thereby taking up a Braille cell of its own.  Immediately this means that a word in print which two accents on it becomes at least three Braille cells longer than the equivalent print word as the extra sells are used to display the accents.

A system was thought up therefore to try and contract Braille to shorten it.  This is sometimes referred to as either Grade 2 or Contracted Braille.  Every language has its own version of contracted Braille and this in itself takes a while to grasp, as it is a form of short-hand.

How is Qur’anic Arabic Braille different from Arabic Braille?

Qur’anic Arabic Braille has one major difference with its Arabic counterpart; it does not use any contractions.  Arabic Braille, like English Braille, has contractions which are used to shorten it to conserve space.  It is used in Arabic books and in everyday Arabic Writing.  Qur’anic Arabic Braille however is different.  It has no contractions.

The Qur’anic Arabic Braille alphabet is relatively simple to learn as it is very intuitive.  What may take longer are the rules governing both tajweed and the symbols surrounding letters such as the Fatha, Kasrah, and Dhamah.

How can I get started reading the Qur’an in Qur’anic Arabic Braille?

In the first instance, you need a Qur’anic Arabic Braille primer; these are available in Braille or print.  We only recommend these be used if you already know how to read Braille or are learning as a sighted user.  Kitaba can supply you with a primer at a cost of £15.  These were produced by Madresssa An Noor, and the price  is the same as that paid by Kitaba, so no money is made by us.

For a first time Braille user, the primers are not suitable and you would first need to build up the sensitivity in your fingers before attempting to learn.

As mentioned before, the Qur’an can only be read once the basics of Qur’anic Arabic Braille have been mastered and understood.  The Braille Qur’an is split into six volumes with five paras in each.  Copies can be obtained by Kitaba but we need to be sure the reader is proficient enough in Qur’anic Arabic Braille in the first instance.

For anyone already proficient in English Braille wishing to learn Qur’anic Arabic Braille, or if you have any other enquiries related to Qur’anic Arabic Braille, please contact us on info@kitaba.org choosing ‘Learning Qur’anic Arabic Braille’ as your subject.  We will endeavour to respond your queries as soon as possible.  If you wish to learn Qur’anic Arabic Braille, we will put you in touch with a teacher in your area with whom you can make suitable arrangements

Insha’allah we have people available who can help you to master Arabic Braille.  Teaching can be done either online via Skype, or face to face if distance permits. You will need to make suitable arrangements with your teacher as Kitaba will not get involved with this.

Where can I go to get more information on English Braille?

For anyone who has lost their sight and wishes to learn Braille from scratch, we suggest you contact the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) in the first instance.  Unfortunately, we do not have the expertise to teach basic motor skills, though we are more than happy to support and guide you if required.

To find out more about Braille and other support services for the visually impaired in the UK, please visit www.rnib.org.uk

wishing you peace and the best of health,

Wasalaam, Kitaba Islamic Texts for the Blind

Date Posted: 06/12/2011

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