New York Point
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New York Point is a system of writing for the blind invented by William Bell Wait (1839–1916), a teacher in the New York Institute for the Education of the Blind. The system used one to four equidistant bases, each of one or two points (with two points each, : :: ::: or (for capitals) :::: ). The most common letters are assigned to the configurations with the fewest points.
Capital letters were cumbersome in New York Point, each requiring four bases, and so were not generally used. Likewise, four-base hyphens and apostrophes were generally omitted. When capitals, hyphens, or apostrophes were used, they sometimes caused legibility problems, and a separate capital sign was never agreed upon. According to Helen Keller, this caused literacy problems among blind children, and was one of the chief arguments against New York Point and in favor of one of the braille alphabets.
New York Point competed with the American Braille system, which employed the Braille base (an array of points 2 wide by 3 high). Embossed alphabets are relatively bulky, and New York Point's system of only two horizontal lines and principle of assigning common letters to characters with the fewest points were seen as advantages.
Wait advocated the New York System as more logical than either the American Braille or the English Braille systems, and these systems competed in what was known as the War of the Dots. Around 1916, agreement settled on English Braille standardized to Braille usage, chiefly because of the better reflection of English punctuation compared to New York Point, the speed of reading braille, the large amount of written material available in English braille compared to American Braille, and the international accessibility offered by following British alphabetical order.
Wait also invented the Kleidograph, a typewriter with twelve keys, for embossing the New York Point system on paper, and the Stereograph, for creating metal plates to be used in printing books for the blind.
- An autobiography of William Bell Wait and discussion of the invention of New York Point.
- Further biographical information on William Bell Wait, including the New York Point alphabet
- Robert B. Irwin's As I Saw It, 1955, gives a history of the "War of the Dots" that ultimately led to the adoption of the English form of the braille literary code in the United States.
- A Look Back, published in JVIB, March 2006, documents the War of the Dots.