Observed on January 4 each year, World Braille Day celebrates the significance of braille, a distinct form of communication and inscribed language for blind or visually challenged people. Braille was invented by Louis Braille in the year 1809 and the day commemorates the birthday of this man. The idea behind the day is to raise awareness about the forms of communication that prove useful for the visually challenged. Since many establishments such as hospitals, restaurants and even banks do not offer braille forms of their printed resources, World Braille Day serves as a reminder to make things more accessible to visually impaired people. It motivates everyone to establish more independence and accessibility for the visually impaired.
Who was Louis Braille?
Louis Braille was a French educator who had lost his eyesight when he was just three after an accident with a stitching awl. Despite losing his eyesight, he stood out and excelled in education. He invented braille- a new form of reading and communicating in 1809 and promptly mastered it. Ironically, braille made use of an awl-like stylus for inscribing marks in the paper which could be felt and deciphered by the blind. Braille is a combination of numerical and alphabetic symbols, each of which is represented via six dots. It is based on Charles Barbier’s night writing system which was essentially a tactile military code developed in response to Napolean’s demand for a medium for soldiers who communicated during the night without any source of light.
Braille passed away in 1852 and didn’t survive long enough to witness how popular his invention would ultimately become. Braille began to be taught in schools around the U.S by 1916 to blind students. In the years that followed, it gained popularity and became the key form of communication and reading for the blind in many different countries. To date, the braille medium of communication continues to be the most widely used system for visually challenged people across the globe.
Significance of World Braille Day
The first time the day had been celebrated was on 4 January 2019. United Nations General Assembly had chosen the date for World Braille Day via a declaration in November 2018. World Braille Day offers an opportunity to people working in different sectors to raise awareness to be more concerned about blind people and address the issues faced by them. It also highlights the fact that the system is still missing from many establishments and the significance of producing works in braille.
This World Braille Day 2021, let us pledge to raise awareness by offering all important documents in accessible formats such as braille because everyone deserves and is legally entitled to similar services and accommodations, regardless of ability. Let’s do our bit to make the world more accessible for everyone.