How Braille Works


Announcer: Welcome to Stuff You Should Know from HowStuffWorks.com.

Josh Clark: So, Chuck, it's really hot here.

Chuck Bryant: Yes, we are still in Guatemala, here on Thursday.

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: Although we recorded this - we bypassed the space, time continuum to fool you all.

Josh Clark: And it's actually quite comfortable here in the studio.

Chuck Bryant: It is. It's lovely. And hopefully, neither one of us has died from typhoid at this point.

Josh Clark: Or been taken hostage, which I've got to tell you I'm worried about.

Chuck Bryant: Right and hopefully what's happening is you guys are reading about this on our blog at HowStuffWorks.com and Stuff You Should Know blog.

Josh Clark: Right.

Chuck Bryant: Depending on our Internet, we are uploading daily posts about our experience here.

Josh Clark: Either that, or if what Chuck just said proves false, that means that we have spotty Internet down in Guatemala and all of them will be uploaded the following week, after we get back. Right?

Chuck Bryant: That's it.

Josh Clark: Okay. So look for those live, now on the blogs at HowStuffWorks.com or the week beginning the 15th.

Chuck Bryant: Help.

Josh Clark: Hey, and welcome to the podcast. I'm Josh Clark. With me, as always is Charles W. Bryant.

Chuck Bryant: And guest producer, Matt Frederick.

Josh Clark: Yeah, Matt is filling in for Jeri who is sick right now 'cause she's got the hepatitis.

Chuck Bryant: She doesn't really.

Josh Clark: I've got the hepatitis.

Chuck Bryant: No you don't.

Josh Clark: What do you think they injected us with?

Chuck Bryant: Folks we got hepatitis shots, by the way, because we are traveling to Central America.

Josh Clark: Guatemala.

Chuck Bryant: And they said that that's a good thing to get. And I don't know what they inject you with.

Josh Clark: They inject you with inactive hepatitis, so your body can form antibodies.

Chuck Bryant: Right, sure, I feel great.

Josh Clark: So when you get with the active one, it's like you can't stay here.

Chuck Bryant: Jeri got sick and I was like I feel good.

Josh Clark: I feel awful. My arms hurt. I feel sore. I feel like I'm getting sick 'cause I also got the TDAP.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, the tetanus diphtheria.

Josh Clark: Yeah, and I don't feel very good right now, Chuck. Do you remember last year when I got sick for like 18 straight weeks?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, that was fun.

Josh Clark: Well I'm hoping to fight this one off.

Chuck Bryant: So we've got Matty in here, which is a pleasure. Matt, of Lines and Scissors, are you guys still together? Sort of. At one point the singer left and the guitar player left and Matt was left with a drum kit and a part time keyboard player or something.

Josh Clark: You could make something these days with that.

Chuck Bryant: I think its weeks later they decided they wanted to be in the band again, though, so I think they're working on a reunion tour now.

Josh Clark: And it all began with a camping trip that one person wasn't invited to. It's historic.

Chuck Bryant: So Matt, good to have you hear, my friend.

Josh Clark: I concur.

Chuck Bryant: Do you have an intro, or should we just say let's talk about Braille.

Josh Clark: Let's talk about Braille. I do a little bit. Do you know much about Louis Braille?

Chuck Bryant: Well yeah, sure. Louis Braille invented Braille because he was a blind boy.

Josh Clark: Do you know how he got blind?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, he stuck something sharp in his eye.

Josh Clark: He did an awl.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, A-W-L.

Josh Clark: Yes, thank you. My thick tongue does not allow for distinction between all and awl.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, he did that when he was three years old.

Josh Clark: Yeah, his dad was a leather worker and he used the awl, which is basically a very sharp pointed instrument with a - you could lobotomize somebody with it.

Chuck Bryant: It's a little big, but sure. It would be a -

Josh Clark: He almost lobotomized himself with it.

Chuck Bryant: It would be a gruesome lobotomy.

Josh Clark: He was screwing around with it and it slid out of his hand and hit his eye, right?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: And then what, he got infected?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, they got infected and then he lost sight in his other eye because of sympathetic ophthalmia which is when one eye says well if that eye is not going to to stick around, then I'm going to go off duty as well.

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: But that wasn't mentioned in this article. I thought that was surprising.

Josh Clark: Huh, it is a bit surprising. That reminds of a Kind of the Hill where Hank Hill goes blind in one eye and then he goes blind in the other. And Gary, his mom's boyfriend is like I've never heard of an eye sympathetically shutting down before.

Chuck Bryant: I was hoping you were going to say it had something to do with Kahn.

Josh Clark: No, I can't do a good Kahn. That was good.

Chuck Bryant: All you've got to say is Kahn.

Josh Clark: Right.

Chuck Bryant: I'm Laotian and then you're supposed to say, "You're from the ocean."

Josh Clark: I can't do a good Hank Hill either.

Chuck Bryant: None of those are any good.

Josh Clark: I don't watch it any more.

Chuck Bryant: I don't either.

Josh Clark: Ever since they brought Tom Petty on, I'm like this sucks.

Chuck Bryant: Is he on that show?

Josh Clark: Uh, god.

Chuck Bryant: You're kidding?

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: As a character?

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: Or as Tom Petty?

Josh Clark: As a character.

Chuck Bryant: Huh.

Josh Clark: It's awful.

Chuck Bryant: I love Petty and I love King of the Hill.

Josh Clark: How do you love Tom Petty?

Chuck Bryant: Because he's great.

Josh Clark: I'm sorry. I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.

Chuck Bryant: You're awful.

Josh Clark: Anyway, wow, we already got off on a tangent. All right. Louis Braille was not one to be kept down.

Chuck Bryant: No.

Josh Clark: Despite an awl sticking into his eye and going completely blind by age three.

Chuck Bryant: True.

Josh Clark: Right?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, he was inspired, in fact, some years later when he was a teen by a visitor that came from the Royal Institution for Blind Youth.

Josh Clark: Right, a guy name Charles Barbier.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, and this was in the early 1820s or mid 1820s, depending on who you ask.

Josh Clark: Late 1820s.

Chuck Bryant: Other sources say early.

Josh Clark: Okay.

Chuck Bryant: Another issue with this article.

Josh Clark: All right.

Chuck Bryant: And he, this guy, Barbier, invented a code called night writing to allow soldiers to communicate to each other in the dark.

Josh Clark: This is not to be confused with Knight Rider.

Chuck Bryant: Or night swimming.

Josh Clark: No.

Chuck Bryant: It's not night writer? I thought it was night writer.

Josh Clark: Night writer.

Chuck Bryant: I thought he invented the car.

Josh Clark: No, he invented night writing, totally different.

Chuck Bryant: And that did not catch on in the army.

Josh Clark: Okay.

Chuck Bryant: Right?

Josh Clark: Right, so he went to the school for the blind where Louis Braille was 12 when Barbier visited, I guess.

Chuck Bryant: And boom.

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: Smart little kid says I can use this.

Josh Clark: Yeah, and he could. And actually, within three years, he'd worked out the kinks. He, basically, optimized night writing and created his own system, which we know and love now as Braille, at age 15.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: By age 20, he published his first book in Braille.

Chuck Bryant: It was probably large and bulky.

Josh Clark: But, strangely enough, Braille didn't catch on.

Chuck Bryant: No.

Josh Clark: Globally or even in France until after he died.

Chuck Bryant: Right, and even then it was popular with the Institute for Blind Youth, but it still wasn't super widespread because, and this is something I didn't know. This is sort of like the totem pole cats. There's all these little tidbits I never knew. There were competing codes, and different inventors came up with different codes. So clearly, when there's different systems out there, it's going to be hard to decide which one to use and hard for one to become widespread.

Josh Clark: Right.

Chuck Bryant: So that's one reason.

Josh Clark: Did you know there's no universal sign language?

Chuck Bryant: I believe I did know that.

Josh Clark: Yeah. One of the competing, I guess, a tactile alphabet is what you would call these things, in general. It was created by a guy named Valentin Hauy.

Chuck Bryant: I don't even know. You shouldn't even try. H-a-u-umlaut-y.

Josh Clark: It's not uder?

Chuck Bryant: No, it's umlaut.

Josh Clark: Oh, okay. He created a system that is basically kind of wavy Latin characters.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: It looked very much like the characters that we use here in the west.

Chuck Bryant: Sure.

Josh Clark: But they were a little wavier, a little more elongated, I guess ostensibly, so you could feel them more easily. And still to this day, some people consider this type of tactile writing easier to learn.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, true, very good point.

Josh Clark: Thanks. The thing is, Braille eventually did catch on, Chuck, and these days, Louis Braille is looked upon in much the same way that Johann Gutenberg is.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, sure.

Josh Clark: I think, actually, Helen Keller, on the anniversary, 100th anniversary of Louis Braille's death said something along the lines of, "In our small way, we the blind are as indebted to Louis Braille as mankind is to Guttenberg." He basically took a group of humans who were virtually unrecognized in the educational system and gave them a way to become educated people.

Chuck Bryant: Right, created literacy, both of them did.

Josh Clark: Yeah, among the blind.

Chuck Bryant: And they both took a little while to catch on, largely because - well one of the reasons we said with Braille was because there were competing codes. But also, the books, Braille books, were really bulky and large.

Josh Clark: Still are.

Chuck Bryant: Well, they still are, but back then, dude, it was even worse, like you didn't want to be lugging around Braille books in your rucksack.

Josh Clark: And Tracey, who wrote this article, is a huge Harry Potter fan.

Chuck Bryant: Indeed.

Josh Clark: So she described how big Harry Potter in the what, Half Blood something else something?

Chuck Bryant: I don't know.

Josh Clark: Whatever.

Chuck Bryant: Half-blood Prince.

Josh Clark: There you go. That Harry Potter book is 14 volumes long in its Braille edition.

Chuck Bryant: Wow.

Josh Clark: That's long.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: And yeah, they're heavy. They have to be published using loose leaf, with the ring binder down the middle, so that the pages can sit flat, so that you can hit the cells all the way. And I think actually, Chuck, we may be getting ahead of ourselves a little bit. Let's talk about Braille at its basis.

Chuck Bryant: Okay, like what it is, literally?

Josh Clark: Yes.

Chuck Bryant: Well, Josh, Louis Braille realized that the night writing method used cells to create an alphabet, using dots and dashes.

Josh Clark: Yeah, and originally, Braille used dashes as well.

Chuck Bryant: Does not any more.

Josh Clark: No.

Chuck Bryant: But the Braille cells today, they're a little bit different than the original Braille. They do not use dashes, like you said. They are two dots wide and three dots tall.

Josh Clark: Right. At this point, I want everybody who is listening to this podcast to close your eyes.

Chuck Bryant: Okay.

Josh Clark: Okay. You have in your head a cell, made up of six dots. Like Chuck just said, it's two dots across and three dots down in each of the columns, right?

Chuck Bryant: Yes.

Josh Clark: So you have one, two, three dots down.

Chuck Bryant: Uh-huh.

Josh Clark: And to the next column to the right, you have one, two, three dots down. Now if you go to the first dot on the first column, which would be the one on the left hand side, that's the number one dot. The one below that is two and then three. At the top of the right hand line of dots, you have four and then five and then six. Using these six dots, you can create 63 character combinations.

Chuck Bryant: Correct, Josh, and you would think pretty easy because we've only got 26 letters in our alphabet, but they also have to cover punctuation, contractions, musical notes and symbols, basically anything you can think of that you would be able to read with your eyes needs to be accounted for within those Braille dots.

Josh Clark: Right and there are some, in the original Braille, the English Braille alphabet, there is some punctuation included. Close your eyes again everybody. Go back to the Braille cell and think of it like a domino. It's a rectangle with the dots inside.

Chuck Bryant: Okay.

Josh Clark: A dot in position two, alone, is a comma. So remember that's the middle one in the left hand column. One that is in position six, alone, is the capital sign. So you put that before the next character and you know that it's a capital letter. And it just kind of goes on like this.

Chuck Bryant: Right, and you also have to represent the numbers, too, we forgot to add. So zero through nine are represented, and you can, obviously, make up any combination with those.

Josh Clark: And zero through nine are actually the same thing as letters A through J.

Chuck Bryant: Yes.

Josh Clark: But before each number, you would have a number sign, much like you have a capital sign before the next letter.

Chuck Bryant: To indicate that it's a number.

Josh Clark: So the number sign is the third position and then four, five and six. And then you might have A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I or J and then that would be a number instead of a letter.

Chuck Bryant: It sounds so complicated.

Josh Clark: It does. But I imagine if you are looking at a book for the first time, I don't remember back that far.

Chuck Bryant: I'm glad you said that.

Josh Clark: But if you're looking at a normal book, you're probably like I couldn't think of anything more complicated that I have to do.

Chuck Bryant: Exactly, and that's the point. I'm glad you brought that up because they say that it is very much like learning to read and write for the first time, using the same pathways in the brain. And should we talk about the wonder machine, real quick, since I brought that up?

Josh Clark: Yeah, this is really interesting.

Chuck Bryant: Yes, the FMRI, when people read Braille, their visual cortex, visual cortex actually fires up.

Josh Clark: Yeah and there's a couple of theories why. The first is that when you are blind, you have basically this storage area that is put to use doing other stuff.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, pretty cool.

Josh Clark: Which would be tactile sensory input rather than visual sensory input!

Chuck Bryant: Right.

Josh Clark: And then the other theory, Chuck, is that the language processing centers actually serve as holding areas for this tactile information.

Chuck Bryant: So cool. But because it's the brain, we really have no clue. We just know when it's firing up and when it's not.

Josh Clark: I've lost a tremendous amount of faith in the wonder machine, dude.

Chuck Bryant: Really?

Josh Clark: Yeah. I read this study where this guy scanned a dead salmon -

Chuck Bryant: Oh no.

Josh Clark: While he showed it pictures of humans and asked them what emotions it was showing, and he got a response on the MRI.

Chuck Bryant: Really?

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: That's just disappointing.

Josh Clark: Yeah, it is.

Chuck Bryant: So moving on, Josh, a typical line of Braille is about 40 characters. A typical page of Braille is about 25 lines.

Josh Clark: Right, so think about that. That domino, each domino is a character.

Chuck Bryant: Yes, uh-huh.

Josh Clark: And in un-contracted Braille, or grade one Braille, every word is spelled out letter by letter, which is why the Harry Potter book is 14 volumes long.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, exactly.

Josh Clark: Right. So to combat against this huge bulkiness, they've come up with contracted Braille, right?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, grade two Braille, and this is when they group or they contract Braille, literally, using representations of whole words or letter combinations, sort of like shorthand.

Josh Clark: Yeah, like ing or ed or the or and, they have their own. Rather than three cells for and, you just have one, and it's and.

Chuck Bryant: Right, but there's a little controversy there, as always. Some people say that un-contracted Braille is really important because it's the foundation for learning. Contracted Braille and opponents say that un-contracted Braille is time and space consuming and basically you just don't need to learn two cods.

Josh Clark: Right.

Chuck Bryant: So why bother?

Josh Clark: That's a good question. I guess a good answer would be that what is the standard? What are you going to encounter, contracted or un-contracted? When you're at the ATM machine and you're reading the keys, is that contracted or un-contracted? I'm pretty sure, if I remember correctly, it's un-contracted.

Chuck Bryant: Oh, is it?

Josh Clark: Because yeah, there's one dot at the number one position, etcetera.

Chuck Bryant: I can read that kind of Braille.

Josh Clark: Well yeah. And actually, there's a great illustration, showing Basic English, the English Braille alphabet. And it seems like something you could pick up if you really set your mind to it.

Chuck Bryant: That would be kind of cool. Should we talk more about how you read it? Like you read it from left to right, like a regular book, but you write it right to left. Is that correct?

Josh Clark: Yeah, when you make the impression on a page, you have to do it going from right to left, because think about it. You're going to be flipping the page over to read the bump. Pretty interesting!

Chuck Bryant: It is very interesting.

Josh Clark: Pretty clever.

Chuck Bryant: And you can do this handheld still, with a stylus.

Josh Clark: Yeah, some books are translated from sight books to Braille, by hand. It takes hundreds of hours.

Chuck Bryant: But that's not the way to do it any more. I mean you can, but there's different ways. Now you can get a Braille writer, which has a key for each of the six dots of the cell.

Josh Clark: Which makes sense?

Chuck Bryant: Makes sense. You can actually get a regular QWERTY keyboard attached to a Braille printer.

Josh Clark: Right.

Chuck Bryant: Very easy to use. And what else Josh?

Josh Clark: Well, if you want to read in the future.

Chuck Bryant: Right, which is now?

Josh Clark: There's movable type that reads a screen, line by line.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: And you have, basically, like a pad that has recessed pins that represent a dot, right?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, pretty cool.

Josh Clark: And then based on what the line of text on the screen says, the corresponding dots pop up and you read them. And then as it goes down, they refresh and then pop up again. It's very motorized.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, it's very cool.

Josh Clark: I actually read an article about it, a NASA scientist who's figured out how to use, I think they're called active polymers, artificial muscles, basically, to create a very highly compressed, movable type Braille keyboard. So you could apply it to the iPhone or whatever. It looks like the future of it.

Chuck Bryant: That's pretty cool. And then there are, obviously, if you want to skirt around all the Braille, blind people use things like screen readers for their computer.

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: Audio books, obviously, and recordings of lectures or friends and family, letters from their friends and family. But, I don't know if you remember. We did something on the webcast on a blind man being blind in modern society and the New York Times and this guy was very anti all these readers. He said it basically makes blind people lazy. And they need to get out and learn Braille just as you need to go out and learn how to read because you get a better understanding of a word if you understand how to spell it and write it and read it.

Josh Clark: And plus, also, you use a different part of your brain to process language orally than you do visually or tactily.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: So there's like a whole part of your brain that would be underdeveloped and that just in and of itself is a bad idea.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, I would think so. They also have you can scan books now too. That's one of the easier ways to translate now, using optical character recognition technology. You can scan a book and they can translate it into Braille for you.

Josh Clark: Or you can send it to a Braille printer.

Chuck Bryant: Well yeah, sure.

Josh Clark: You can understand, though, why somebody who is blind would want to listen to an audio book.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, it's faster.

Josh Clark: It is faster. Apparently, the average Braille reader can read at a rate of 125 to 200 words per minute. By contrast, the average sighted eighth grader can read about 205 words per minute. And college students read about 280 words per minute. So if you're in college and you're blind, it's probably not even, necessarily, a question of laziness. It's a question of just trying to keep up.

Chuck Bryant: Right.

Josh Clark: You know.

Chuck Bryant: Sure. I'm a slow reader. What about you?

Josh Clark: Very slow.

Chuck Bryant: Are you?

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: Interesting. I am too. Like when I read a book, I call it deliberate because people say you read slow. But I read very deliberately. And I'll re-read a sentence to get it just right. I'm not a scanner, at all.

Josh Clark: No, I'm not either.

Chuck Bryant: And I say scanners stink.

Josh Clark: I do too, Chuck.

Chuck Bryant: These people that I see reading, like you take these tests where you read and see how fast you can read, reading comprehension, and I've done this on people's blogs and people logged on and said they read this many words. And I, literally, did my eyes and timed myself. I can't even scan that fast. I don't see how they can be absorbing these words.

Josh Clark: They're probably not. It's all just sitting there in working memory for a minute and then it's gone.

Chuck Bryant: I ingest it, buddy.

Josh Clark: I do too.

Chuck Bryant: Good for you.

Josh Clark: Like a pie.

Chuck Bryant: Like pie or like a pie?

Josh Clark: Like a whole pie.

Chuck Bryant: Okay. I thought you meant like pie.

Josh Clark: So, Chuck, still, like we said, there's Braille all over the place.

Chuck Bryant: Many languages of Braille, specific to that country.

Josh Clark: Yeah, again, there's no universal Braille. There's not even a universal English Braille. The Braille in the UK and Wales and the United States are all different.

Chuck Bryant: Well yeah, they're different codes. And luckily, we have the Braille authority of North America, here in the U.S. of A. and they do publish standards for these codes. But you have to know what code you're reading because the same cell can mean one thing in one code and something else in a different code.

Josh Clark: Right. And also, there's notations that there's Braille for music.

Chuck Bryant: Sure.

Josh Clark: English Braille, American edition is used for things like novels and magazines, basically literature, right?

Chuck Bryant

Right.

Josh Clark: Then you have the Nemeth code of Braille, mathematics and scientific notation for math and science.

Chuck Bryant: Sure.

Josh Clark: Because I mean, think about Sigma. There's nothing in the English alphabet that signifies Sigma.

Chuck Bryant: Right.

Josh Clark: And that thing pops up a lot and terrifies me whenever I see it in an equation.

Chuck Bryant: Me too.

Josh Clark: Then you've got computer Braille code, code for ASCI.

Chuck Bryant: ASCI, a.k.a ASCI.

Josh Clark: Right and chemical notations and music, right?

Chuck Bryant: Right.

Josh Clark: So the whole point of these standard authorities is to bring all this together so that their unsighted people in their country can all know what the hell they're reading.

Chuck Bryant: Right and they're, like we said, every country, literally, has their own Braille. There is even Chinese Braille, with the characters representing sounds that make up the language.

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: Hebrew Braille, Josh, as well, which sounds like the grade one Braille with each letter and number representing its own cell.

Josh Clark: Right. And then, of course, Chuck, there's the newest Braille alphabet, which is Tibetan.

Chuck Bryant: Welcome Tibetan Braille to the family.

Josh Clark: A woman, named Sabriye Tenberken, created the code so that she could read Tibetan manuscripts. And she realized that she had just created a new Braille language and took it to Tibet and started teaching blind Tibetan children.

Chuck Bryant: That's awesome.

Josh Clark: Tibetan Braille.

Chuck Bryant: So you could, literally, invent a Braille method, if you wanted to.

Josh Clark: Oh, I have.

Chuck Bryant: Really?

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: Josh Braille. And they're still working on this. Many countries have agencies and departments that evaluate their own codes and try and institute or implement new improvements in technology, that kind of thing. Like this one I saw. I don't understand the benefit here. Said there's a new display prototype that can be rolled up like paper.

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: Do we still do scrolls? Who does that?

Josh Clark: I think that's on its way out, the refreshable type.

Chuck Bryant: Aside from your diploma and what else, poster of you know.

Josh Clark: Anything that has to do with papyrus, that's generally scrolled, silk, that kind of thing.

Chuck Bryant: I guess that's a good thing, and then Braille libraries, web Braille libraries available online.

Josh Clark: So it seems like Braille is everywhere, right?

Chuck Bryant: Sure.

Josh Clark: I'll tell you one place it's not in the United States.

Chuck Bryant: Oh no. Is this the fact of the day?

Josh Clark: Our currency.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: Chuck, out of 180 countries in the world that use paper currency, the United States is the only one that makes its paper currency the same size and the same shape, regardless of denomination.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: If you are blind, you have to come up with your own clever tricks to keep track of it. And although it probably rarely happens, you're constantly under threat of being ripped off.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: You have no idea. You just know you have a paper bill. It could be a one or 100. You have no clue.

Chuck Bryant: True. They fold paper, the bills. Isn't that one of the tricks?

Josh Clark: That is one trick. And there's a big debate even within blind advocacy groups of whether or not the U.S. should go to the trouble of putting any kind of tactile imprint on their currency. Or should blind people just make do? But I'm getting you a gift, Chuck.

Chuck Bryant: Oh no. What?

Josh Clark: I went on to Amazon and I found this thing called the pocket Brailler. And it hooks onto your keychain. And it has one, two, three, four, five. It has six little notches. And you put the corner of your paper currency into the appropriate notch. So if it's a one, you put it in the one notch. And you press down. And you can actually emboss. You can Braille your currency.

Chuck Bryant: That's a great idea.

Josh Clark: Not for yourself, but if a blind person ever comes in contact with it, they have it already Brailled for them.

Chuck Bryant: So if everyone got these and did this to the dollars that flow their way, eventually we could have enough money out there where we've done it ourselves.

Josh Clark: Yeah. I mean think about it.

Chuck Bryant: Forget the government.

Josh Clark: Every time you came in contact with a piece of paper currency, you marked it, forgot about it, got back into circulation. That kind of gets around.

Chuck Bryant: You know what I say to that?

Josh Clark: What?

Chuck Bryant: Putta, putta, putta.

Josh Clark: Nice. So I'm going on to Amazon. It's actually from a site, called Maxi Aid, which is a very unfortunate name for a website, but they sell the pocket Brailler for $6.79 and I'm getting you one, buddy.

Chuck Bryant: Really?

Josh Clark: I'm getting myself one too.

Chuck Bryant: That's pretty cool. All right. Well if everyone else out there got them, then maybe we could make a real difference in this world.

Josh Clark: I agree.

Chuck Bryant: Of course the blind people would have to know that this movement is going on.

Josh Clark: Not necessarily.

Chuck Bryant: And trust that they were marked correctly.

Josh Clark: Well that's kind of the thing. I'm sure there's a jerk out there who will do it the opposite way.

Chuck Bryant: Right.

Josh Clark: That person's going to hell anyway, so.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, good point.

Josh Clark: Threefold, remember the witch's rule of three.

Chuck Bryant: That's right. Come back on your head three times, buddy.

Josh Clark: If you want to read more about Braille, you can type that word, B-R-A-I-L-L-E into the handy search bar at HowStuffWorks.com, which leads us, of course, to listener mail.

Chuck Bryant: Yes, Josh. Anyone out there who listens to this much of the show and listens to listener mail!

Josh Clark: All eight of you.

Chuck Bryant: They know two things. We love e-mail from our young friends.

Josh Clark: Yes.

Chuck Bryant: And we love e-mail in broken English.

Josh Clark: And we love free stuff.

Chuck Bryant: And this one is both, actually not all three. This is not free stuff. I'm going to call this broken English from young Lucy. Young Lucy, we'll just call it that.

Josh Clark: The cutest recent immigrant in the United States.

Chuck Bryant: This is great. And of course, as we always like to COA and say we're not making fun of anyone.

Josh Clark: No, Lucy's adorable.

Chuck Bryant: Lucy is doing a great job of writing in English and we just think it's a good time. Hello Josh and Chuck from the podcast. I am 14 years of age and I enjoy to listen to the podcast plenty. That's a good start. I write this on friend's e-mail due to the fact that I, myself, do not have e-mail. I write another before but is not certain if it arrived to the dwelling of you, so I write again. I love the podcast and the joke you say, make I laughing so hard. That's good. So she thinks we're funny.

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: I try hard on English, but it's still no good. Josh and Chuck help plenty and I find I learn new thing every one of the days.

Josh Clark: That is awesome.

Chuck Bryant: So she's learning things all the time from us.

Josh Clark: Her parents should probably be afraid.

Chuck Bryant: Probably so. I come to Canada from China and like to live here. Every day here is joyous and all people are happy and also kind.

Josh Clark: That's about right for Canada.

Chuck Bryant: She must be in Vancouver. My mother jokes that I am too much in interest with podcast and says she is wondering if I am in love with podcast Josh. I respond with wholehearted no and declare him too married and he much too old for my young and small age, 14. Very true.

Josh Clark: That is a good girl.

Chuck Bryant: Josh is not married, though, we should say. I listen to old podcast with Chris, and am wondered why oh why, Chris, does Josh work. Is Chris slave? Slavery not accepted in Canada, neither should in U.S.A.

Josh Clark: Agreed.

Chuck Bryant: Agreed. I love to hear you and good day to you. I try hard to write this and am hoping happiness and health for you, from your fan number one, Lucy. Good bye. No use slave. I couldn't agree more.

Josh Clark: Lucy, I am not married. I am very much taken. But I've got to tell you. If I weren't, I would wait for you.

Chuck Bryant: You sound like a very -

Josh Clark: She is quite a charmer.

Chuck Bryant: Passionate, charming young lady.

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: And welcome to Canada. Can I speak for Canadians?

Josh Clark: I guess.

Chuck Bryant: Welcome to Canada from China.

Josh Clark: We do, here in the U.S., anyway.

Chuck Bryant: Right. And thanks for listening, Lucy. That's really very cute.

Josh Clark: Agreed. So if you have a super heartbreakingly cute e-mail that you want to send us, you know we like those a lot. We're suckers for them. You just wrap it up, send it along to StuffPodcast@HowStuffWorks.com.Announcer: For more on this and thousands of other topics, visit HowStuffWorks.com. Want more How Stuff Works? Check out our blogs on the HowStuffWorks.com home page.