International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) Flag of All nations

Table Designator: qip

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.

As documents are not generally written entirely in IPA, this translator is generally invoked using this last option.


The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) tables support print-to-braille translation of "phonetic text" into uncontracted IPA braille.

Except for rare circumstances, IPA passages are generally very short sequences (words, phrases, even syllables) contained in the text of a document written in some natural language (such as French, Spanish, Swahili, etc). DBT supports the transition between the host language and IPA (and back), based on the conventions employed for UEB braille.

Translation from IPA braille to IPA print is not supported.

Key Characteristics

Table Designator: qip identifies this translation table for Language Table Switching.

Braille Contractions: This language is usually produced in uncontracted braille. This means that the letters of each word are rendered into braille on a one-for-one basis.

Capital Sign: IPA Braille does not use any capital sign.

Script Systems Used: The IPA translator handles only the characters found in the International Phonetic Alphabet. Each letter in the IPA is a "phoneme" and represents a spoken sound.

Although IPA letters are basically from the Roman alphabet, certain letters may be modified with a stroke, caron, or acute accent. Pre-composed Unicode characters, when available, may be used for these modified letters, or the accent marks may be added to the base letter by entering the applicable combining Unicode marks immediately after the base letter.

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.

There are no special translator modes for this table, only those which are present for all tables, such as the [lnb~] code (language-switch) and a few codes for internal testing.

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.

IPA and Language Table Switching

DBT has translation tables for circa 200 different world languages, and a general "how-to" on language table switching is presented in most DBT translation table topics. In this topic, however, the discussion focuses on the switch into, and out of, IPA from the base language of your template.

In an inkprint document, passages of IPA might be set apart with slash characters or square brackets, or sometimes they are set apart only by spaces. In any of these instances the IPA sequence might be in bold type, or some other altered type form.

This means you may see examples in IPA such as this: /aIpie/ or this [aIpie] or this one aIpie that has no delimiters, only spaces.

Suppose that you are working on a document using the UEB template and its normal translation table, but the document has passages in IPA. At the beginning of each IPA passage, before the passage delimiter, insert the DBT code lnb, followed by ~ (tilde) and the table designator qip like this: [lnb~qip].

After the IPA passage and its delimiter, insert a plain [lnb] code to return to UEB.

All of the "modern" DBT templates include an IPA style. If you highlight your IPA passages, including their delimiters, you can apply the IPA style to put the beginning and ending lnb codes in place all at once and get the desired result.

References, History and Credits

The Duxbury implementation of the International Phonetics Alphabet braille tables is based on the work of Dr. Robert Englebretson in conjunction with the International Council on English Braille.

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: