BEST IELTS Academic Reading Test 445

BEST IELTS Academic Reading Test 445

IELTS Academic Reading Test


Paragraph A: Braille is a system of touch reading and writing for blind persons in which raised dots represent the letters of the alphabet. Braille also contains equivalents for punctuation marks and provides symbols to show letter groupings. Braille is read by moving the hand or hands from left to right along each line. Both hands are usually involved in the reading process, and reading is generally done with the index fingers. The average reading speed is about 125 words per minute, but greater speeds of up to 200 words per minute are possible.

Paragraph B: The history of Braille goes all the way back to the early 1800’s, when Charles Berbier developed a unique system known as ‘night writing,’ so that soldiers could communicate safely during the night. Being a military veteran, Berbier had seen several soldiers killed, because they used lamps after dark to read combat messages.

The light shining from the lamps told the enemy where the French soldiers were and this inevitably led to the loss of many men. Berbier based his night writing system on a raised 12-dot cell; two dots wide and six dots tall. Each dot or combination of dots within the cell denoted a letter or a phonetic sound. The problem with the military code was that the human fingertip could not feel all the dots with one touch.

Paragraph C: Louis Braille was born January 4, 1809, in a small village near Paris. His father, a leather worker, often used sharp tools in his work. While playing in his father’s shop when he was three, Louis injured his eye with an awl. In spite of good care, infection set in and soon left him completely blind.

At eleven years old, Braille was inspired to modify Charles Berbier’s night writing code in an effort to create an efficient written communication system for fellow blind individuals. One year earlier, he had enrolled at the National Institute of the Blind in Paris and he spent the next nine years developing and refining the system of raised dots that has come to be known by his name, Braille.

Paragraph D: Braille’s code was based on cells with only six dots, instead of 12, as in Berbier’s. This improvement was crucial, because it meant that a fingertip could encompass the entire cell unit with one impression and move rapidly from one cell to the next. Over time, Braille gradually came to be accepted throughout the world as the fundamental form of written communication for blind individuals, and today it remains basically as he invented it. There have, however, been some small modifications to the Braille system.

Partly because of the size that Braille pages occupy, and partly to improve the speed of writing and reading, the literary Braille codes for English and many other languages employ contractions that substitute shorter sequences for the full spelling of commonly occurring letter groups. For example, ‘the’ is usually just one character in Braille.

The use of contractions permits faster Braille reading and helps reduce the size of Braille books, making them much less cumbersome. Braille passed away in 1853 at the age of 43, a year before his home country of France adopted Braille as its official communication system for blind individuals. A few years later in 1860, Braille made its way to America, where it was adopted by many institutions.

Paragraph E: A modern application of Braille is its use with computers. Reading electronic documents using hands instead of eyes may sound almost impossible, however, this is actually what many blind persons can do nowadays. This is done through a device known as a Braille display. Braille displays are hardware that enable users to read in Braille the text displayed on the computer screen. Using this, blind people can navigate through the computer’s desktop, create and edit documents, and browse the Internet.

Once connected to the computer, the Braille display will acquire the currently highlighted text on the screen. The screen reader will then translate the text into Braille and the Braille display will display it on its built-in Braille cells. Braille displays are refreshable, which means that when the user moves to a specific line of text, the device displays the text’s Braille equivalent. Then, when the user moves to another line, the device automatically displays that new line in Braille.

Paragraph F: The Braille display is just one of the devices used by blind people in accessing the computer and other electronic hardware. Apart from this device, blind people also use synthetic speech provided by screen readers, which reads electronic text in a semi-human voice. The main difference between Braille displays and synthetic speech is that Braille displays actually let users read text content. As screen readers only let users hear the text on the screen, Braille displays are more useful for users who are both deaf and blind.

Paragraph G: Louis Braille’s legacy has enlightened the lives of millions of people who are blind, and blind individuals from all over the world benefit from Braille’s work daily. Today, Braille code is transcribed in many different languages worldwide. Now people who are blind can enjoy all the printed word has to offer just like everyone else. The effect is tremendously empowering and helps them achieve success in school and in their careers.

The text on the previous pages has 7 paragraphs A – G. Which paragraph contains the following information? Write your answers in boxes 1 – 7 on your answer sheet.

1. Braille died before his native country officially began to use Braille as their communication of choice with blind people.

2. A system previous to Braille’s was too big for a single finger to read a symbol at one time.

3. Braille can be used with a variety of different languages.

4. It took Louis Braille nine years to create his reading system for the blind.

5. Braille can be used to read highlighted text on a computer.

6. Braille is able to show when punctuation is used.

7. Braille displays are better than screen readers for people who are deaf as well as blind.

Write NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the text for each answer.

8. Braille reading is usually done by moving the hands’ _______________ along a line of raised dots.

9. Berbier’s reading system was devised to help _______________ with reading safely at night.

10. The dots in Berbier’s reading system represented either a letter or a _______________.

11. Louis Braille’s accident with an _______________ left him blind for the rest of his life.

12. Braille uses _______________ that allow Braille books to be shorter than they would be otherwise.

13. A Braille display is _______________ that can be used in conjunction with a computer.


BEST IELTS Academic Reading Test 445

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1. D

2. B

3. G

4. C

5. E


7. F




11. AWL



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