First Ever World Braille Day

Poster for annual celebration of World Braille Day (January 4) with text World Braille Day made by braille alphabet
Today (January 4) was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly last November as World Braille Day to raise awareness of the importance of Braille as a means of communication for blind and partially sighted people.
The World Health Organization (WHO)
reports that people who are visually impaired are more likely than those with
full sight to experience higher rates of poverty and disadvantages which can
amount to a lifetime of inequality.
There are an estimated 39 million blind people worldwide, while another 253
million have some sort of vision impairment. For many of them, Braille provides
a tactical representation of alphabetic and numerical symbols, so they can read
the same books and periodicals printed as are available in standard text form.
Hands reading Braille
The
UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CPRD)
cites Braille as a means of communication; and regards it as essential in
education, freedom of expression and opinion, access to information and social
inclusion for those who use it.
To foster more accessible and disability-inclusive societies, the UN
launched its first-ever flagship
report on disability and development last year, coinciding with the
International Day for Persons with Disabilities on which Secretary General
António Guterres urged the international community to take part in filling
inclusion gaps.
“Let us reaffirm our commitment to work together for an inclusive and
equitable world, where the rights of people with disabilities are fully
realized,” he said.
What
is Braille?
Braille is a tactile representation
of alphabetic and numerical symbols using six dots to represent each letter and
number, and even musical, mathematical and scientific symbols. Braille (named
after its inventor in 19th century France, Louis Braille) is used by blind and
partially sighted people to read the same books and periodicals as those
printed in a visual font. Use of braille allows the communication of important
information to and from individuals who are blind or partially sighted,
ensuring competency, independence and equality.
Braille English alphabet letters
Night writing, the precursor to Braille, was invented by
French army officer Charles Barbier. It was intended for use by soldiers as a
means of communicating at night without the use of sound and light. Ultimately,
the French military rejected night writing, claiming it was too difficult for
soldiers to use. While attending France’s Royal Institute for Blind Youth,
Louis Braille learned of Barbier’s invention and attempted to improve upon it.
Braille published his work in 1829 and it has since been adapted to many of the
world’s languages.       
The Valentin Haüy Association, where Louis Braille worked over a hundred
years ago, continues to promote the use of Braille in France, while translating
documents and books into the language.
It is also trying to find ways to ensure that Braille, and its readers, move
into the digital age – including helping people learn to use digital braille
keyboards, print braille papers, and make websites accessible.
Currently, less than 10% of French internet sites are accessible to people
with a visual, hearing, or motor disability.


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