Tibetan Braille
Script type (non-linear)
CreatorSabriye Tenberken
Time period
Print basis
Tibetan alphabet
Related scripts
Parent systems

Tibetan Braille is the Braille alphabet for writing the Tibetan language. It was invented in 1992 by German social worker Sabriye Tenberken.[1] It is based on German braille, with some extensions from international usage. As in print, the vowel a is not written.

Despite Tibetan and Dzongkha (Bhutanese) using the same alphabet in print, Tibetan Braille differs significantly from Dzongkha Braille, which is closer to international norms.


Tibetan Braille follows print orthography. (See Tibetan script.) This is often a poor match for how words are pronounced. Each syllable is rendered in the following order:

pre-consonant, superscript consonant, head consonant, subscript consonant, vowel, post-consonant(s)[2]

The invariable consonants are:[3]

Consonant ka kha ga nga ca cha ja nya
Braille ⠅ (braille pattern dots-13) ⠉ (braille pattern dots-14) ⠛ (braille pattern dots-1245) ⠶ (braille pattern dots-2356) ⠹ (braille pattern dots-1456) ⠽ (braille pattern dots-13456) ⠟ (braille pattern dots-12345) ⠜ (braille pattern dots-345)
Consonant ta tha da na pa pha ba ma
Braille ⠞ (braille pattern dots-2345) ⠾ (braille pattern dots-23456) ⠙ (braille pattern dots-145) ⠝ (braille pattern dots-1345) ⠏ (braille pattern dots-1234) ⠯ (braille pattern dots-12346) ⠃ (braille pattern dots-12) ⠍ (braille pattern dots-134)
Consonant tsa tsha dza zha za 'a sha ha
Braille ⠭ (braille pattern dots-1346) ⠵ (braille pattern dots-1356) ⠿ (braille pattern dots-123456) ⠩ (braille pattern dots-146) ⠎ (braille pattern dots-234) ⠫ (braille pattern dots-1246) ⠱ (braille pattern dots-156) ⠓ (braille pattern dots-125)

Several consonants, wa, ya, ra, la, and sa, are provided with forms corresponding to the superscript and subscript positions in print:[4]

Consonant wa ya ra la sa
Braille as base letter ⠺ (braille pattern dots-2456) ⠚ (braille pattern dots-245) ⠗ (braille pattern dots-1235) ⠇ (braille pattern dots-123) ⠮ (braille pattern dots-2346)
as superscript ⠘ (braille pattern dots-45) ⠦ (braille pattern dots-236)
as subscript ⠲ (braille pattern dots-256) ⠴ (braille pattern dots-356) ⠖ (braille pattern dots-235) ⠧ (braille pattern dots-1236)

The assignments for zh and z also match international conventions, as those letters are pronounced like sh and s. Several of the assignments which do not match international braille have the values of German Braille: ch for c (ch), j for y [j], z [ts] for tsh, s [z] for z, sch [ʃ] for sh [ʃ], ß [s] for s. Letters which are not basic to the German alphabet (c, q, x, y) have been reassigned. Several of the aspirated consonants (ch, th, ph) are equivalent to the corresponding unaspirated consonant with an extra dot in the third row.

The short vowel "a" is inherent in the head (main) consonant, and is not written explicitly. When a vowel occurs at the beginning of a word, it is carried by a null consonant :

Vowels a i u e o
(on )
ཨི ཨུ ཨེ ཨོ
Braille ⠁ (braille pattern dots-1) ⠁ (braille pattern dots-1)⠊ (braille pattern dots-24) ⠁ (braille pattern dots-1)⠥ (braille pattern dots-136) ⠁ (braille pattern dots-1)⠑ (braille pattern dots-15) ⠁ (braille pattern dots-1)⠕ (braille pattern dots-135)

Numbers and punctuation

Digits are as in English Braille. Basic punctuation:[3]

Print , ; .
Braille ⠂ (braille pattern dots-2) ⠆ (braille pattern dots-23) ⠆ (braille pattern dots-23)⠆ (braille pattern dots-23)


  1. ^ Kronenberg, Paul. "Tibetan Braille Script". Braille without Borders. ((cite web)): Missing or empty |url= (help)
  2. ^ From email correspondence with Sabriye Tenberken: Single consonants are written without a "a". Only i e o and u are indicated. The order goes like this:
    first the pre consonant, this could be a b, m d ' etc. Then the main consonant. After the main consonant the vowel and then the post consonant. If the main consonant has a super or a sub script, an extra letter that indicates the super script or the subscript is put before and after the main consonant. However it has to be placed before the vowel.
    If you have a word with all letters possible, it looks as follows:
    1. Pre consonant
    2. superscript
    3. main consonant
    4. sub script
    5. vowel
    6. post consonant
    7. second post consonant
    For example: bsgrubs
  3. ^ a b World Braille Usage, UNESCO, 2013
  4. ^ Tibetan Braille01.jpg (Email correspondence/image), Braille without Borders ((citation)): |format= requires |url= (help)