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January 4 Is World Braille Day: Why It’s Important

Is World Braille Day on your calendar? It should be! Whether you’re a member of the disability community, a disability ally or otherwise, it’s worth noting that World Braille Day is rightfully celebrated on the fourth of January every year.

This health observance is about creating awareness about braille, a vital tool utilized as a medium of communication for people with partial or total blindness. Braille is a tactile system used by people with different disabilities to both read and write.

What is Braille?

This communication system is synonymous with people who have low vision, as well as those who are deaf-blind or blind. The braille system utilizes symbols and raised dots to enable reading and writing through touch. Braille’s writings can be read on embossed paper. It can also be read with the help of a refreshable braille which makes it possible to display braille writing on smartphones.

Braille Literacy Month, observed each January, was officially established in 2019 by the United Nations General Assembly. It is celebrated throughout the month with the main focus of educating the masses about braille literacy as well as the essence of braille.

The History Behind the Braille Writing System

The braille writing system was invented by a French man named Louis Braille. Louis Braille lost his vision as a result of injuries sustained in a car accident during his childhood.

world braille day
(Shutterstock)

Prior to the introduction of the braille writing system, visually-impaired people used the Huay writing system. Unlike the Frenchman’s invention, the Huay system would only enable individuals to read. Whereas, the braille system enables both reading and writing. It is the technical shortcomings of the Huay system that inspired Louis to come up with an improved communication method.

Significance of World Braille Day

World Braille Day is integral in creating awareness about the importance of the reading and writing system among people with visual impairments. It is also a key reminder about the essence of the independence and accessibility of those with disabilities.

The modern world is gradually evolving concerning the needs of people with differing abilities. And, now, more and more public places — like hotels and restaurants — are embracing visually-impaired people by providing braille versions of common print materials, such as bills and menus. The lack of such materials can, of course, make it challenging for people with visual impairments to access services.

Lack of accessibility can also deny people with disabilities privacy, and rob them of the freedom of choice. As much as some public and private places are becoming more inclusive, additional steps can always be made to further accessibility. That is one of the main objectives that World Braille Day aims to accomplish.

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