Today is World Braille Day

Today (4 January) is World Braille Day, https://www.un.org/en/observances/braille-day.

I have been a braille user since approximately 5 years of age.

Braille is made by punching dots into paper or other materials. For example, when you next go shopping you may well come across braille on bottles of bleach or other cleaning products. In addition, many medications now have braille labels enabling people such as myself to identify them.

As a child who was unable to read print, braille was one of the main ways in which I accessed the printed word. I can still remember the first fully contracted (grade 2 braille) book I read. It was entitled The Story of Pets, and being able to access it independently of sighted assistance gave me a profound sense of achievement.

Despite the massive advances in technology (for instance the availability of text to speech on almost all titles in the Amazon Kindle store which enables those unable to read print to access them), braille still remains extremely important.

As mentioned above, braille enables visually impaired people to identify household cleaning products such as bleach. In addition, I continue to read braille books. Whilst I gain enjoyment from listening to audio downloads (for example of poetry books), the advantage to braille (as with print) is that it enables readers to put their own interpretation upon a work, rather than being influenced by the person narrating the audio book. I come across some readings and think to myself “that is not how I imagine the poem/other work in question should be read/interpreted”).

A number of my own books are available in braille from the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), https://kmorrispoet.com/2020/06/23/braille-editions-of-my-books/. In addition, all of my works in the Kindle store have text to speech enabled, enabling those who are unable to read print to access them.

In conclusion, braille remains a vital means for braille readers to access information and to enjoy the written word in the form of literature. Braille displays can be linked to a computer allowing braille users to read the contents of the screen, https://www.rnib.org.uk/sight-loss-advice/technology-and-useful-products/technology-resource-hub-latest-facts-tips-and-guides/braille-displays-and-notetakers. Consequently braille will, I believe remain relevant for many years to come.

21 thoughts on “Today is World Braille Day

  1. Lamittan Minsah

    My sweet, charming, funny and cordial friend, always lighting up my day, it’s only until now that I’m learning you’re blond. I appreciate you deeply, man, cause now you’ve even make me agree that physical blindness is not psychological blindness. There are lots of people out here who have this nasty sort of psychological blindness… no, I don’t mean the mentally challenged, i mean people who have just not allowed themselves to see reality. And you, my friend, are just amazing. I feel blessed to be your friend.

    Reply
    1. K Morris Poet Post author

      Thank you so much for your lovely comments.

      I lost the majority of my eyesight at approximately 18-months old. As a result I don’t remember having full vision.

      I can see outlines of objects, but not their detail. So, for example I can see the shape of a person, but I can not determine whether it is a friend or a stranger. The person needs to speak before I can ascertain whether or not I know them. In addition, I can mistake a tree or other similar object for a person and (as I say in the post) I don’t possess sufficient sight to read print.

      I was taught to use a long white cane to navigate, but I am now working with my 5th guide dog, Apollo which I find easier than using a white cane.

      Prior to learning to use a computer/laptop, I used a Perkins Brailler to take notes, https://shop.rnib.org.uk/perkins-classic-brailler. In fact I still use a Perkins from time to time.

      I use a standard Windows laptop with software called JAWS, which converts text into speech and braille allowing me to interact with my computer and (amongst other things) post this blog. You can find out more about JAWS here, https://www.freedomscientific.com/products/software/jaws/.

      I very much appreciate you following my blog and commenting on and liking my posts.

      Very best wishes. Kevin

      Reply
      1. Lamittan Minsah

        Most welcome, Kevin. It’s a pleasure knowing you this much, and I look forward to growing and establishing our friendship. I understand it must have been quite disturbing losing your sight at an early age, but remaining positive and focusing on your goals as you did was the wisest thing you chose to do. And you’re now, no doubt, a wonderful figure to humanity, a great resource to mankind, one who can inspire and change the lives of many, through writing and your story of success. Keep writing, keep spreading the word, dear. ❤

    2. K Morris Poet Post author

      Thank you for your very kind words.
      I was about 18-months-old when I lost most of my vision, consequently I don’t remember having full vision. I think it is often more difficult for those who go blind later in life than it is for people who are born blind or who lose their vision at an early age, (I.E. it is easier to adapt at a young age, and for those who are born blind they have only known blindness so tend to cope well). I also look forward to continuing our friendship. Best wishes. Kevin

      Reply
      1. Lamittan Minsah

        Yeah. I fully concur with you. It could have been harder to cope could it have happened at a grownup age. I look forward to reading your works soon. Best wishes, my friend.

    1. K Morris Poet Post author

      Thank you for commenting. Yes braille is a great and interesting way of spreading knowledge. In addition it is a wonderful way of reading books (despite its bulk). Best wishes. Kevin

      Reply
  2. OIKOS™- Art, Books & more

    What a great invention. But what i had heard in the past, this keybord addition for writing and reading Braille are furthermore very expensive. Why could they not push it in mass production, and every keyboard would have such an addition. This would make it cheaper, and also others can learn Braille. xx Michael

    Reply
    1. K Morris Poet Post author

      Thanks for commenting, Michael. You are correct that braille displays (which replicate in braille what a sighted person sees on screen) are expensive. They are, however coming down in price but still remain out of reach of many people. Your idea re incorporating into all keyboards is an interesting one, but I’m not sure how easy this would be to do. Charities do sometimes assist with the cost of such equipment and (in the UK) under the government funded Access to Work Scheme employers of blind people can receive funding for the purchase of braille displays and other similar equipment which enables visually impaired people to participate in the labour market. Best wishes. Kevin

      Reply
  3. Isabella Allen

    Braille is really important. Thank you for this post. We have it on street signs here and I recently got dropped in the wrong area of the CBD by the bus and was able to quickly work out where I was by reading the Braille on the sign. I could have used GPS, but the GPS isn’t very accurate in the CBD with all the tall buildings and concrete, it works, but it would’ve been a lot slower and less accurate

    Reply

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