What is Cambodian Braille (Khmer Braille) and How Was it Made?

Cambodian Braille (or Khmer Braille) is the Braille alphabet of the Khmer language. Khmer is the official language of Cambodia.

Cambodian Braille was developed by Benoît Duchâteau-Arminjon (aka “Benito”) and his colleagues in the 1990s, initially for the children of Krousar Thhmey (an organization for disenfranchised youth, and deaf and blind children in Cambodia). Today, Khmer Braille is the standard in the country.

Khmer Braille
A child reading from a Cambodian Braille text at Krousar Thmey

As Benito alludes to in the video above, the creation of the Braille system in Khmer was a challenging task due to the complexity of the Khmer language. The six-dot system that is the standard for many Latin-based Braille languages would not support the numerous possible characters in Khmer. Instead, a system of up to 18 dots was invented.

Why not just make an abbreviated Braille system to conform to the six-dot pattern? That may have been simpler, but it wasn’t part of the long-term vision he had.

“We could have made an [abbreviated] system,” Benito said. “The problem is…you’ll never be able to know how your language is formed and [where] your culture is coming from. Our aim was integration.”

Click here to read more about how Benito created Cambodian Braille and Cambodian Sign Language.

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