January is the time we, in the blind community, celebrate Braille Literacy Month. Braille is a code created for reading and writing. This code, which is a series of raised dots on paper, has revolutionized the lives of people with vision loss because it has opened doors of literacy, education, employment, and independence.
History of Braille
Additionally, Louis Braille’s birthday was on Jan. 4 and this date is recognized internationally as World Braille Day. Braille was a Frenchman who lost his vision from an accident as a small child. His family enrolled him in the Royal Institution for Blind Youth in Paris. As a teenager there, Braille began the process to create a reading and writing system by touch. He continued to perfect the system and as an adult became an instructor at the Institution. Unfortunately, Braille’s method was not accepted by the sighted instructors and he died in 1852 never seeing his creation used by the blind.
Eventually, the code was accepted and today this system of raised dots is used all over the world. Yet, people still don’t know the story of the braille code and why it is important. So, let’s get ready to learn more facts. Here are some interesting tidbits provided by the Perkins School for the Blind. Let’s see how much you really know about this writing and reading code.
15 Facts About Braille
1. Did you know braille was originally used by the French military not the blind? It was called “night writing.” Developed in 1819 by Charles Barbier and the French army, this system allowed soldiers to communicate at night without being detected.
2. Did you know Braille is a tactile code not a language? Many languages like Spanish, Chinese, Arabic, Hebrew and of course, English can be written and read in braille.
3. Did you know braille is made up of 6 raised dots? Braille words and symbols are composed in a cell with a variation of those 6 dots.
4. Did you know every letter, number, punctuation and symbol can be written in braille? This also includes music , mathematical and scientific symbols.
5. Did you know braille labeling and info is available for prescription drugs? A clear braille overlay is added by the pharmacist on top of the existing prescription medication label. This form of accessibility was set by the US Access Board’s Working Group on Accessible Prescription Labels and the FDA Safety & Innovation Act.
6. Did you know there are toys and games with braille? Some of the biggest classic family games like Uno, Monopoly and LEGO are all available in braille. Even when Mattel added the Helen Keller doll to their Inspiring Women Series Keller was holding a braille book.
7. Did you know the original braille code didn’t include the letter “w”? The French alphabet doesn’t have the letter “w” but it was added later when using other languages.
8. Did you know some braille readers can read faster than a sighted person? While a sighted person can read 300 words per minute, some fast braille readers can speed through a book at 400 words per minute. This is because of a light touch and using both hands-one hand reads while the other is positioned to start on the next line.
9. Did you know braille is on consumer goods? Online you can purchase braille greeting cards, facemasks, jewelry, beauty supplies and candy. Just do a simple search and explore the options.
10. Did you know Braille takes up more space than print? One page of print is about 2 pages of braille. When I had a braille Bible it was like a set of printed encyclopedias.
11. Did you know there are two forms of braille? uncontracted braille , Grade 1 or Alphabetic Braille, uses all 26 letters of the alphabet and is often used by children or people who are first learning to read and write. Contracted braille , Grade 2 or Literary Braille, is more complex and most commonly used. It is a shorter version of braille
12. Did you know the word braille is not capitalized? Only when referring to Louis Braille is the word in caps. Although, some blind people disagree and capitalize braille regardless.
13. Did you know there’s an asteroid named Braille? In 1999, NASA’s Deep Space 1 probe flew past an asteroid while on its way to photograph the Borrelly comet. NASA named the asteroid 9969 Braille in honor of Louis Braille.
14. Did you know braille is on the keypad of bank ATMs including their drive-throughs? The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) mandates all ATMs must be accessible to people with visual impairments. This includes drive-through ATMs even though blind people can’t drive. This directive ensures blind passengers sitting in a vehicle’s back seat can reach the ATM and independently make a transaction.
15. Did you know most blind people don’t read braille? Many people who lose vision as adults may not know braille. You can learn even more about this in my next post on braille later this month.
Be honest. How much did you know about braille before reading this post? A whole lot or very little? Well, hopefully you learned more than you did before reading. It is important that all people regardless of vision level learn about the importance and power of braille.
6 thoughts on “How Much Do You Know About Braille? Learn More Reading These 15 Facts”
Perfect! I can’t even imagine my life without braille!
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I agree with you Joan. Even though I am not a strong reader, the braille I do know is very useful and important to me.
Reblogged this on Jewniquely Myself and commented:
*Because reading and writing are such a significant part of my life, every January I try to say something meaningful about braille. The following is a lovely tribute, packed with surprising and interesting facts*
Joan, thanks for sharing with your friends.
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Truly my pleasure and delight, dear Empish!
I will be writing and posting on braille again later this month. So, stay tuned.
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