French (Unified) Translator Table French FlagFlag of Canada

Table Designator: fra-xuf

A translation table is a module in DBT that provides the rules to convert (translate) a document from print-to-braille or from braille-to-print. Normally, it is selected by the DBT template that controls production of the current document. All documents have a template. In fact, for many languages there are multiple templates, with differences in translation rules or formatting, but each references at least one translation table. (For more on templates, see DBT Templates, the Basics.)

Regardless of your template, you can choose a different translation table to translate your current document using the Translation Table selection from the DBT Document Menu.

You can also select different translation tables to use for particular passages in your document. See the section below on Language Table Switching.


The Unified French tables support print-to-braille translation of French-language literary text, mathematical notation, and computer notation, following the codes and standards established by the agreement at the 3rd International Forum at INJA in Paris (2005).

Translation from braille-to-print is supported for this language.

Key Characteristics

Table Designator: fra-xuf identifies this translation table for Language Table Switching.

Braille Contractions: This language is usually produced in contracted braille, which means one should not expect a one-to-one correspondence between inkprint letters and braille cells. Instead, abbreviations (contractions) are used for many common words and letter sequences.

Capital Sign: Unified French uses dots 46 as the capital sign.

Emphasis: The Unified French translator converts all forms of emphasis in inkprint (bold, italics, and underlining) to a single braille emphasis marker, dots 456.

Mathematical Braille: This translator uses the French Braille mathematics translator.

Script Systems Used: The Unified French translator handles Roman characters, and a wide variety of accents, symbols, and punctuation marks.

Translation Modes (DBT Codes which Change the Mode of Translation)

A number of DBT codes affect the mode of the translation or create special translation effects on specific letters or symbols. Some translation modes are specific to particular translator tables.

[ab] is equivalent to [g2], which established grade 2 mode translation.

[caplvN] capitalization control, where N must be either 2 or 3. A value of 2 means that capitals are indicated in "basic" form, which means there can be at most one capital sign on a word whether just the initial letter or the full word is capitalized. A value of 3 means that full capitalization indicators are used.

[cb] is a synonym for [iq], computer braille, see below.

[cbi] is a synonym for [iq], computer braille, see below.

[cbn] is a synonym for [iq], except that no indicator is generated.

[cz] indicates a passage already in braille ("direct braille"); it is terminated by cb or tx.

[cz;f] is like [cz]except that the ASCII braille characters correspond to braille according to French conventions (as of 2008).

[ftlvN] emphasis control, where N must be either 1 or 3. A value of 1 means that all emphasis marking codes ([fts~...] ... [fte~...] ) are to be ignored. A value of 3 means that all emphasis markings are honored, i.e., the emphasis is indicated in the braille.

[g1] switches to "grade 1" (uncontracted) braille.

[g1L] switches to "grade 1" (uncontracted) braille and "locks" that setting.

[g1u] undoes the "locking" effect of [g1L], while leaving the contraction grade as "grade 1" (uncontracted) braille.

[g2] switches to "grade 2" (contracted) braille, which is the normal mode for this table.

[g2L] switches to "grade 2" (contracted) braille and "locks" that setting.

[g2u] undoes the "locking" effect of [g2L], while leaving the contraction grade as "grade 2" (contracted) braille.

[i0] (0 = zero)suppresses the automatic addition of a letter sign and allows the following word to be contracted, or not, according to the grade currently in effect.

[i1] (1 = one)is equivalent to [i], indicates the following word is to be translated in grade 1.

[in] is equivalent to [g1], a switch to grade 1 braille.

[iq] begins "informatique" (computer braille); see also [tx] below.

[tcs] is required in this table to enable math (technical) context, i.e., for general treatment of technical material including the surrounding text.

[tce] cancels the effect of [tcs], restoring literary treatment (which is the default).

[ts] initiates specific "technical notation," i.e."math mode" within technical context.

[te] cancels the effect of [ts], restoring normal text mode (even though "technical context" may remain in effect).

VRN codes introduce variations from the standard rules for some aspect of braille translation. Unified French supports the following vrn codes.

[vrn~nuc] switches to "classical" treatment of numbers.

[vrn]cancels the effect of [vrn~nuc], reverting to Antoine treatment of numbers, which is the initial and default treatment with this table.

For more about DBT codes that affect the mode of translation, search on the two words, "Translation Code", in the topic, DBT Codes Quick Reference.

Language Table Switching

DBT has translation tables for over 200 world languages. Modern versions of DBT allow using multiple language translation tables within a single document.

Suppose that you are working on a document using this base translation table, but it has passages in a foreign language, or that need a technical braille code. At the beginning of each such passage, insert the DBT code lnb, followed by ~ (tilde) and the table designator for the desired language table. (The table designator for each language table is listed in the Key Characteristics.) Note that using the lnb code you can change from the base table to virtually any other translation table and back again.

For some language tables, the table designator is short, like ise for Icelandic. Thus, to switch to Icelandic braille translation, insert [lnb~ise]. The table designators are more elaborate for mathematics code tables and for languages that have multiple translation tables. As an example, the designator for Unified French Braille is fra-xuf. To start a passage in the French Unified Braille code, insert [lnb~fra-xuf]. At the end of a foreign language passage, use the plain [lnb] code to switch back to the original, base, language translation table.

Some translation tables, and hence their table designators, are for braille codes but not for natural languages. Some examples are the International Phonetic Alphabet (designator: qip) and Nemeth Code (designator: qmt-xnem72m) for mathematics. Using lnb with those table designators allows you to switch to the IPA braille code or the Nemeth braille math code.

While a plain [lnb] code returns translation to the base language, it does not restore any other translation properties that might have been in effect before the switch. For example, if you had been using a [g1L] code (for "grade 1 lock") to prevent contractions, you need to repeat that code after the [lnb] code to restore that effect. Fortunately, you can build lnb codes into DBT styles, to customize what modes to enter and exit at the switch in and out of a translation table.

Note that DBT templates whose names contain the word "basic" all have a number of styles defined for switching between different translation tables. (For the list, see Basic Templates.)

References, History, and Credits

The development of the literary portions of these tables commenced in March 1987, under the sponsorship of the Association Valentin Hauy (AVH), Paris, and as a joint technical effort of Duxbury Systems and AVH. The primary specification for French literary braille usage with contractions is the document, "Abrege Orthographique Etendu," a publication of AVH."Table de Transcription pour la Production du Braille Abrege par Ordinateur," by Michel Jacquin and published by AVH (1986) was also instrumental in this early development.

An "informatique" (computer notation) code was also included in the early work, and revised considerably in 1999-2000 in response to a change in specifications.

The braille-to-print translation tables were added starting in November 1990, with the same sponsors and developers.

Mathematics translation facilities, following "Notation Mathematique" as prepared by AVH, were added in 1999-2000, with AVH again providing sponsorship and collaborating in the technical work with Duxbury Systems.

Starting in February 2006, with AVH's continued sponsorship and guidance, Duxbury modified these tables for the Unified French rules agreed to in July 2005 at the 3rd International Forum at INJA in Paris. The rules were determined by an expert group comprising delegates from France, French-speaking African countries, Belgium, Switzerland and Quebec.

Likewise, starting in April 2007, under the auspices of AVH, Duxbury has implemented revisions to the French math code.

Updates and Errors

If you have information about changes in the braille rules for your language, please email Duxbury so that we may update our translation tables. Likewise, if you find errors in your translated document, in either the print-to-braille or braille-to-print direction, please contact us. To describe your problem, it is best to send both the *.dxp and *.dxb files along with a full explanation, because the correct braille is often a matter of very specific circumstances. Contact Duxbury at: