Written By: Krisha Niroula
Braille is a code used by people who are blind or visually impaired to read and write. It is a tactile system through which letters and words are represented using raised dots, and it is not a separate language. The braille code used today in the United States was invented by Louis Braille, while he was a student at the National Institute for Blind Youth in Paris, France in the 1820’s.
Braille is a system that enables individuals to read and write through touch. Each letter of the English alphabet is represented by a unique dot configuration represented by the presence or absence of six dots, each approximately 1 mm in diameter, within a matrix of two columns and three rows, with 1.5 mm between the midpoints of each adjacent dot. These small patterns differ only by the presence or absence of dots, making braille alphabet learning difficult. One of the earliest skills for braille literacy development is the ability to name individual characters correctly. Difficulty in this basic skill impedes learning more complex braille-reading skills, such as producing and combining letter sounds. These combined phonics skills are a key component of reading acquisition.
Technologies that support Braille:
Digital Talking Books
Digital Talking Books (DTB) are multimedia presentations of a print publication, rendered in audio with a human voice. These include:
- DAISY (Digital Accessible Information System)
- LearningAlly (formerly known as RFBD)
Digital Talking Book Players
Many people are familiar with commercially available e-readers, such as the Kindle, the Nook, and the iPad. In addition, there are a number of E-Readers that are primarily designed for users who are blind or visually impaired.
Screen Readers and Refreshable Braille Displays
A screen reader is a software application that uses text-to-speech with a speech synthesizer or a braille display to give a computer user access to the text on a computer screen.
Braille has changed the lives of many visually impaired individuals for the good. Indeed, we should never underestimate visually impaired individuals and should always try to uplift, empower and help them to unleash their potentials!