Lao Flag of Laos

Multiple Templates for Lao

For the Lao language, there are two DBT templates:

"Nemeth" refers to the use of the Nemeth Code for mathematics and science notation, used in the United States, India, and a few other countries. The template without "Nemeth" makes use of the UEB (Unified English Braille) code for mathematics and science notation.

For documents without mathematics, it does not matter which one you choose. For documents using math and technical notation, DBT offers several different methods of entering mathematical material.

For the details about the DBT translator used by Lao: click here.

Uncontracted Braille

This language is usually produced in uncontracted braille, which means that words in the text are rendered in braille on a one-for-one basis: one braille character for each inkprint letter. Some inkprint punctuation may require more than one braille character. Indicating upper case, emphasis, or numbers also adds braille characters to the character count. However, the braille contains no abbreviations or contractions.

If you have questions about producing correct braille, please contact a member of the appropriate braille authority.

Non-Roman Script

Lao is written in a script other than the Roman alphabet. This can occasionally cause problems when importing files to DBT. The best result is usually achieved by importing files from Microsoft Word or Open Office that are written in Unicode fonts. You can contact Duxbury Systems if you have file that does not import properly into DBT. Please send the original inkprint file with your request, not a screen shot of the DBT screen.

Word Endings in Lao and Thai Documents

Lao and Thai text documents do not usually insert spaces between words. In these languages, word endings are only used to break the text between lines. Normally, the Thai or Lao reader has no difficulty reading the text, and word endings are clear from the context.

Thai and Lao braille are also formatted this way. There are no spaces between words, only breaks - on word boundaries - between the lines of braille. However, because the line breaks are necessarily different between the inkprint and the braille, it is important to know where all the word endings are in the text to be able to break each line at a word boundary to maintain readability. This requires intervention on the inkprint side, before the translation to braille is done.

In its research, Duxbury Systems has encountered one third-party solution to the word-endings problem (though there may be others available). Circa 1993, the Australian company, Tavultesoft, developed software named LaoScript8 that includes keyboard mapping for the Lao and Thai alphabets, and the vital function to insert invisible characters at syllable and word boundaries. As of this writing, LaoScript8 is distributed (at no cost) by SIL International, a faith-based non-profit organization, under the moniker of their "Keyman" keyboard manager products, (see

The LaoScript8 product can also be found at the website of the original developers,, where a User Guide and downloads are available. Again, as of this writing, the website is current and actively maintained.

Briefly, LaoScript8 can be installed as an "add-in" to Microsoft Word, and adds a LaoScript ribbon menu. When a document is complete and ready for braille translation, the "Wrap" function may be used to insert invisible characters at word divisions, for either Lao or Thai. Ask to do the whole file, and save it when done. (This function once required the Gold Edition of the software, but the software is now free, and separate editions are no longer mentioned.)

Translation to braille may be done immediately afterward.

Technically, LaoScript8 inserts the Unicode zero-width space character, U+200B, at the ends of syllables and words. Duxbury DBT scans for and uses these zero-width spaces to divide lines of braille at word (or syllable) boundaries.

Notes: (1) Expect that some configuration will be required in the settings for LaoScript8 / Keyman, for example, to enable "word wrap", and to ensure use of the correct language dictionary.

(2) This Help cannot advise on the hardware or software dependencies of the Keyman / Laoscript8 product or guarantee compatibility with other Word add-ins such as Duxbury SWIFT. Please investigate those dependencies before you install this software.