Here in the office at the National Braille Association we often get questions via email. Sometimes those questions are from transcribers seeking support, and sometimes they’re from the general public. Recently, we got an interesting question from someone who isn’t a braille transcriber.

Luke S. writes and asks:

I am looking to get the number 6 tattooed on me, because it has a very significant meaning to me. However, I am getting a few different results for what that is in Braille. What exactly is the correct way to say 6 in Braille and if so what are different options and reasons?

Thank you so much!

Great question, Luke. You’re totally right to have checked in with an expert. Often times, there are small interpretations to consider with properly transcribing even one simple number into braille. I checked in with Julie Sumwalt, who is the Chair of our Unified English Braille Committee, and she responded:

Hi Luke,

What an interesting question! The number 6 is brailled like this:  

You can look on an elevator to see it in real life. The dots have a very precise size and placement. If you would like it larger for your tattoo, the dots should be sized and placed in direct proportion for them to make sense. Here are a couple of links to help you: Size Spacing of Braille and ADA Interior Sign Requirements.

Note that “6” has two cells (clusters of dots, in two columns of three dots each). The first cell has the four dots on the left and the second cell has the three dots on the right. You can see the arrangement better when the unraised dots are shown:

Braille 6 with Shadow Dots