World Braille Day is January 4, 2022. This is the birthday of the inventor of Braille, Louis Braille. Louis Braille was a Frenchman who accidentally stabbed himself in the eye at 3 years old with his father’s awl tool. Both of his eyes became infected, and eventually by the age of 5 he became fully blind. At 10 years old, while spending time at the Royal Institute for Blind Youth in France, he created the system of raised dots that eventually was widely known as Braille.
Braille developed a code based on cells with six dots, which makes it possible for your fingertips to feel the entire cell unit with one touch and can move quickly from one to the next. Braille assigned different combinations of dots to represent different letters and punctuation marks, ending with a total of 64 symbols. As time went on, Braille started to be accepted across the globe as the main form of writing for people who were blind. Unfortunately for Louis Braille, he passed away 2 years before the Royal Institute began teaching Braille, having him die without seeing how his invention changed the world.
Braille is known as an alphabet, not a language. It can be used to write almost any language. There are two available versions of braille. Uncontracted Braille spells out every word, while contracted Braille abbreviates familiar words using shorthand writing.
Braille became an aid that has opened a world of possibilities and accessibility for individuals that are blind or visually impaired. In November of 2018, January 4th was declared World Braille Day. Braille’s brilliance has changed the everyday lives of millions across the world. There is still much work to be done to help people be independent since many places such as banks, doctors’ offices, and restaurants do not provide braille menus or statements. People who are blind or visually impaired aren’t given the opportunity to keep information private or make choices without help.
This awareness day sheds a light on braille and different forms of accessible communication. It is a reminder that each of us needs to help create a more inclusive community for everybody, no matter their different abilities.