Braille Books: FSA Eligibility

Braille Books: eligible with a Flexible Savings Account (FSA)
Books/magazines in Braille are eligible for the excess cost of the Braille item over a normally priced item, which also includes audio products (e.g., CDs). Braille books reimbursement is eligible with a flexible spending account (FSA), health savings account (HSA) and a health reimbursement arrangement (HRA). Braille books reimbursement is not eligible with a limited-purpose flexible spending account (LPFSA) or a dependent care flexible spending account (DCFSA).

Revenue Ruling 75-318

What is Braille?

Braille is the system of raised dots that represent the letters of the print alphabet which allows people who are blind or visually impaired to read, write and study the written word. While some may view Braille as a language, it is actually considered a code by which all languages are written and read, which includes symbols that represent punctuation, mathematical symbols, scientific characters, music notes, computer notations and much more.

Braille symbols make up collective spaces called "Braille cells," which can represent a letter, number, punctuation mark or make up an entire word. Each cell features six raised dots, which are then arranged in two parallel vertical rows with three dots each. Each dot position is identified by the numbers 1-6, and 63 different combinations are possible using one or more of these 6 dots. This code is read by touch by the visually impaired, but it can also be taught to those who are not visually repaired to be read by sight (American Foundation for the Blind).

What are the common Braille types?

Braille books and other publications will fall under two main types: Grade 1 Braille and Grade 2 Braille. Grade 1 Braille is typically much easier for individuals who are newly blind to learn, as it refers to a technique where every letter of every word is expressed in Braille, as opposed to shorthand or abbreviated methods. Often, this method is used to label personal items throughout a home for newly-blinded individuals, and books and other publications can also be transcribed into Grade 1 Braille. It's important to remember that in this grade, individual cells cannot represent words or abbreviations.

In Grade 2 Braille, cells used individually or in combination with others to form whole words, whole word contractions, part-word contractions to represent common suffixes and prefixes, and even using single letters to represent an entire word. Grade 2 Braille is typically taught to children with sight difficulties immediately after they learn the basics of Grade 1 Braille. There is a standard called Grade 3 Braille as a means of personal shorthand, but it has not been standardized and is not used in publications (American Foundation for the Blind).

Revenue Ruling 75-318