Spanish (Original) - Translator Table Flag of Spain

Table Designator: spa

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 Spanish translation table supports print-to-braille translation of Spanish-language literary text into uncontracted (grade 1) braille. While this translator can also produce contracted (grade 2) braille, contracted braille is now used by very few Spanish braille readers.

This translator table is the one used by all of the current Spanish templates. The grade of braille produced using each template is reflected in their names. Most users choose the uncontracted Spanish template and produce uncontracted braille.

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

Back-translation works for grade 1 braille only.

Key Characteristics

Table Designator: spa 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: Spanish uses dots 46 as the capital sign.

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

Mathematical Braille: If you use the recommended DBT template with this translator table, you can access the Spanish/Portuguese Braille mathematics translator using the math style.

Script Systems Used: The Spanish translator handles Roman characters, and a wide variety of 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.

The translation codes for Spanish are very similar to the translation codes for the Unified English table. These include the codes to change the handling of the quotation mark. See the Entry for UEB English for a discussion of the codes to control the handling of quotation marks.

[g1] switches to grade 1 as the "prevailing grade", but does not insert a grade 1 indicator.

[g2] resumes grade 2 as the prevailing grade, but does not insert a grade 2 indicator.

[vrn~pr] Changes the translation of some punctuation to match English. This variation is used by some schools in Pureto Rico.

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

Duxbury Systems developed the original Spanish tables starting in December 1976, based upon a specification prepared by Mr. Carl Rodgers (nee Carlos Rodriguez), a native speaker of Spanish who at that time worked for the American Foundation for the Blind. The original tables produced contracted braille. The contraction system was later verified and updated by Mr. Pedro Zurita of the Organizacion Nacional de Ciegos Espanoles (ONCE), Madrid. The use of contracted Spanish braille has decreased sharply in recent years, with the result that while the Spanish tables still provide for grade 2 braille, it is rarely used.

The Spanish tables are maintained by Duxbury Systems with feedback from Mr. Zurita, ONCE, and occasionally other sources, and using "Codigo Matematico Unificado para la Lengua Castellana 1987" as a source for some symbols.

The published book Signografía básica (2005) was especially valuable.

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: