Braille is read by using the sense of touch. The visually challenged person touches the embossed surface to read alphanumeric letters. Braille letters have a maximum of 6 embossed points so each letter has 1 to 6 points.
Louis Braille, who was completely blind and invented the braille system was not the first one to invent a reading system for the blind. Initially, they had a system of feeling and reading raised letters. But since it was taking too long to read, he improved that system.
The typewriter for braille is called Brailewritter.
Braille is also written manually using a sharp pin and punching holes on paper that are placed on a braille slate.
We spent a few minutes embossing paper and writing letters. We placed a paper on a folded towel and used a ball point pen to emboss.
Interesting facts about braille
January is celebrated as braille literacy month
The aim of this celebration is to create awareness about visual impairments and blindness. Audio technology has reduced the dependence on braille but that does not reduce its usefulness and significance.
Braille is not a language
Every popular language has its own braille system. Even math, science, and music have their own system.
Tactile exercises before teaching braille
Visually impaired children are first taught to feel and sort a variety of textured objects to improve their tactile sensitivity before they are taught braille.
Louis Braille developed braille system at age 15
Louis Braille became blind after a childhood accident with an awl. During his early teenage, he figured out a system to allow himself and other visually challenged people to read. His 6 dot system was built upon Charles Barbier de la Sarre’s military methods intended for night deciphering.
Louis Braille published the first complete book about the Braille system at age 20
His book titled “Method of Writing Words, Music, and Plain Songs by Means of Dots, for Use by the Blind and Arranged for Them” proved to be a useful resource for visually impaired children in schools.
The Missouri School for the Blind was the first American educational institution to accept Braille. Though there was an initial resistance from teachers who were unwilling to learn a new system, the trend became popular and has found its place in schools.
Six-dot Braille cells have 63 possible combinations
Each cell is two dots across and three dots down.
There are three different “grades” of Braille
Grade 1 is for beginners and grade 3 is for more experienced readers.
Students learn basic letters and punctuation in grade 1 and in grade 2 build upon this skill. Grade 2 is most commonly found in public places. Grade 3 is the more complicated version.
“Braille for feet”
Braille for feet was developed by Tilco Vanguard in order for businesses to meet standards set by the Americans with Disabilities Act. This helps the visually impaired in knowing boundaries when they are about to dangerous areas.
Most legally blind children in the United States do not use Braille resources
Shockingly enough most legally blind children are considered non-readers.
Audio technology has caused some decline in braille usage though it has not completely replaced the braille system. Sadly, vast majority of legally blind students attend schools where teachers do not know Braille.
Visually impaired readers who learned on Braille have a lower unemployment rate than their print counterparts
However, since many teachers have no knowledge about using braille, it adds to the academic struggles of visually challenged students.