The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North

The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North
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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Dzongkha Braille at par with Unicode

22 September, 2010 - With Dzongkha Braille now at par with Unicode in all its symbols and signs, visually impaired students in the country would now be able to read and write words that were not possible before.

Learning Dzongkha for the visually impaired first started orally at the national institute of visually impaired (NIVI) in Khaling.
Officials from the curriculum and professional support division (CAPSD) said that Dzongkha Braille code saw several “developments” since it was first developed in 1984. The development of a software that could translate any Dzongkha letters into Unicode first and then into Braille helped to a large extent.

“But the Dzongkha Braille lacked some signs that are in Unicode and we needed to bring the Braille code at par with Unicode,” CAPSD’s assistant program officer, Kuenga Dorji said.

A recent workshop in Bumthang has now brought the Braille code at par with the Unicode, said officials. They developed new Dzongkha Braille codes for all signs and symbols of Dzongkha Unicode, and made sure that the new code development would enable the visually impaired to read and write tantric words of religious texts, that sometimes have more than two words on one another.

Based on the Braille that consists of patterns of raised dots, of up to six, arranged in two lines of three dots each, the Dzongkha Braille code was also developed in the same format within the six dots.

“While the codes for Dzongkha alphabets are developed according to the phonetics such as ‘k’ for Dzongkha ‘ka’ and ‘g’ for Dzongkha ‘ga’, we developed an indicator for those Dzongkha characters that have more than one letter and for the letters those are written opposite, such as opposite ta and da,” Kuenga Dorji explained.

The workshop also finalised a Dzongkha Braille code guidebook for standard usage of the code.

“This will not only enable all Dzongkha Braille learners and teachers to use systematically, but will also enable the visually impaired people to have better access to Buddhist literature and philosophy,” said Kuenga Dorji.

Braille was first introduced for Bhutan in 1973 when the national institute for the visually impaired (NIVI) was established.

By Samten Yeshey

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