Imagine a life in darkness, not being able to see anything, not knowing what something as simple as a picture looks like. That’s what blind people have to go through every day. Blind people don’t know what anything around them looks like, their mom, dad, nothing. How do they read? Braille, the blind use braille daily and without it they would need someone with them 24/7 to read everything such as bathroom signs. Let’s explore braille and how it came to be how it is today by answering questions like what was the need for braille, what was life like before braille, what was the impact of braille then, and what is the impact of braille today?
The need for braille then is simple the blind needed an easier way to read and write and there were many teams of people looking at ways for blind people to read. Louis Braille was on a team and he discovered this French “Night Writing” and then the idea for the six dot cell system emerged. The problem is that many people want to eliminate braille completely because “technology can do it for them”. That’s like going into a class room of six year old students and telling them that they don’t need to learn reading and writing because technology will do it for them. It sounds silly, but blind children are told that every day. When children with vision loss are learning to read, braille is the best way to develop spelling, grammar, and punctuation skills. Audiotapes and computers that speak through a voice synthesizer program provide access to all sorts of written tools, but they don’t give new readers the tools they need to read and write themselves. Studies have shown that people with vision loss who can read braille are far more likely to get a job than someone that relies on voice synthesizers. Braille is like print, it allows the blind to take notes, read a spreadsheet, take minutes at a meeting, file materials, label folders, and do a variety of other tasks and voice synthesizers do not take away the need for braille. In the end a person who knows braille can write and is statistically more likely to get a job and succeed in life than someone who relies on a voice synthesizer.
Braille is easy to learn especially when the student is young. Blind children who learn braille early in life usually become fast and experienced readers. Children have an advantage over adults, they learn quickly, accept the tasks that teachers give them with little resistance, and they know that they will make mistakes along the way. However learning becomes more difficult if they happen to fall behind their peers because they may start to feel discouraged and inferior. For these reasons it is never too early to start learning braille as a child. When children have eye conditions that may worsen over time, learning braille can be extremely beneficial for them as it’ll give them more options later in life.
Life before braille is fascinating. Braille has been around for a long time although Louis Braille...