World Braille Day !
Today we celebrate World Braille Day! We are grateful to French educator Louis Braille, whose creativity brought to light the written word and numbers for persons who are blind or visually impaired. Louis invented what we call “Braille” and January 4th commemorates Louis’s birthday. Louis Braille was innovative creating a series of raised dots in specific patterns, to represent the alphabet and numbers. Louis’s inspiration was based on the work of Charles Barbier de la Serre, of the French Army in the late 18th century, who created a military code that was tactile, which meant the messages could be felt by a finger and thus read at night. “Ecriture Nocturne” also known as “Night Writing”, could be interpreted without the need for light and created safety. Braille has welcomed those who are blind or visually impaired to a different life and opportunities for education, communication, and freedom of expression and opinion. By running one’s fingers over the varied arrangement of 1-6 dots, expression, both given and received, becomes the foundation of greater sharing and equality. Braille can be created by a pointed stylus, a Braille Slate, and a braille writer which is similar to the typewriter. Braille displays provide people with information that is on a computer screen. Braille displays can have been 40-80 characters. Forty-character displays can be used for most jobs. Where do we see Braille in our lives? If you were to have your eyes closed and stepped onto an elevator that has access to many floors, and that elevator moves more quickly than you can count, how would you know what floor you are on, if there were no verbal messages indicating the floor? Thankfully Braille is used on many elevators; it is located beside the floor number. Next time you are on an elevator check for Braille. In order to ensure equality for all, public buildings, that would be used equally by persons who are blind or visually impaired, often do not have Braille. Will you take a moment to imagine what it would be like to navigate outside your home, where there are no indications or signs that can tell you where you are and where you need to go. Let’s take World Braille Day and think about Braille. Let’s take this year 2021, where we are conscious of how we are “all in this life together” and ask, discuss, request, and require that Braille be more visible, in our public buildings, on our trails, and in our playgrounds and parks. In 2021 and on, let’s require that Braille show up in our everyday lives.