This activity involves analysing the method of design used for Braille and being able to calculate the number of different patterns that exist using a 3 x 2 design and how these basic patterns can be adapted to enable all numbers, letters, capital letters, punctuation marks, mathematical signs, etc. to be coded. It is particularly helpful as a practical example of problem solving.

Mathematical strand


Prior knowledge

Only requires familiarity of working with powers (of 2). 

Relevance to Core Maths qualifications

  • AQA
  • C&G
  • Eduqas
  • Pearson/Edexcel
  • OCR

Suggested approaches

Initial discussion about the problem of designing a coding method for those who have impaired vision; many students will have some knowledge of the code used but maybe not the details of how it works or even the configuration used. The question of whether there are sufficient different codes available is ideal for group discussion.


In addition to this overview there are:

  • teacher guidance
  • handout with relevant data and questions
  • internet interactive programme
  • data sheet

Relevant digital technologies

No technology is needed but there is associated software to help with finding the number of configurations.

Possible extensions

The extensions could include consideration of other configurations for the dots or other ways of extending the code to be able to cope with more possibilities for coding, for example, more well-used words.


This is a resource developed for the Core Maths Support Programme by David Burghes (CIMT, Plymouth University) and Al Reynolds (Exeter School).