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Did You Know?
Braille is a tactile reading and writing system developed for visually impaired individuals
Braille is not a language in itself; it is a tactile alphabet that can be used for writing multiple languages
Braille literacy is in decline mainly due to the introduction of screen readers, audiobooks, and other assistive technology
Currently, less than 10% of visually impaired people in the US know how to read and write Braille
History of Braille
The braille writing system was invented by Louise Braille, a French educator who lost his eyes in an accident at the age of five. He developed this writing system based on a tactile code known as night writing.
Night writing was used by French soldiers to communicate among themselves without using speech or any light source. Night writing was designed by Charles Barbier as an alternative means of writing to promote universal literacy.
Although there’s a misconception that the night writing system was developed for the army, Barbier himself claimed that he invented it for blind students.
Lousie Braille took the idea from the writing system developed by Barbier and simplified it to create a more compact and flexible tactile writing system. Lousie Braille was only 15 when he developed the braille alphabet. His first book was published in 1829.
In 1854, braille was adopted as the official communication system for visually impaired people. In 1861, braille was introduced in Britain for the English language. However, it was not recognized as the official way of communication for blind people until 1918.
In 1991, Braille codes were standardized for the English-speaking world, and Unified English Braille (UEB) was adopted by the Council on English Braille (ICEB).
Today, standardized braille codes are available for more than 133 languages.
Why Learn Braille?
How to Learn Braille?
Is it hard to learn Braille?
Young children can acquire braille literacy the same way they might learn how to read and write the print alphabet. Braille shouldn’t pose any extra difficulty if the correct teaching methodology is used. For adults, it is like learning a second language. However, you do not have to learn a whole new language; you just have to get yourself familiar with a new alphabet and reading system.
What makes it challenging to learn Braille?
Learning braille can be a little challenging for someone who attempts to learn at a later stage of life. It is mainly because our brain is already trained to read and write in certain ways. So, getting accustomed to a completely different system may take time and a lot of practice.
It can also be difficult to train our fingers to sense the dots by touch. It will be relatively easy for someone who has been visually impaired for a while and is familiar with feeling things with fingers. However, for a sighted person, it will take some time.