Only 15% of blind people read braille: emergency!

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On the occasion of World Braille Day, associations recall the urgency of promoting braille, a valuable way to access knowledge. A writing that is almost two centuries old but adapts to new technologies.

January 4, since 2001, is World Braille Day. 209 years ago Louis Braille was born in Coupvray (Seine-et-Marne). It is to him that seven million people in the world must be able to read and write with their fingertips. For Vincent Michel, president of the Federation of blind and partially sighted people in France, “braille is and will remain for a long time the only way for a blind person to approach the written text autonomously. This decisive invention for our full citizenship remains more relevant than ever since the digital revolution promotes its dissemination through adapted computing and new technologies. We must say its modernity and defend it by all means.

Short story

At the beginning of the 19 th century, following an accident, Louis Braille became blind at the age of three. This does not prevent him from living almost like any other child. It is at school that difficulties begin to appear because he wants to learn to read. At the age of twelve, far from being discouraged, the little boy swears to find a way to decipher all that his infirm eyes can not see. Louis Braille invents the relief alphabet that has since enabled millions of blind people to overcome their disability. A book dedicated to children (in link below) tells this story.

Which system?

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From 1 to 6 points in relief, arranged in 2 columns of 3 points, Braille allows 64 combinations including the alphabet, the accents, the punctuation, the mathematical signs and the notes of music … Many objects or devices (watches, board games, measurers, lifts …) are, thanks to Braille, adapted to the use of the blind or very visually impaired people. A simple and ingenious method that opens the door to knowledge for millions of users around the world and, nearly two centuries later, access to computers since a braille tablet was introduced in 2016 In France, the promotion of braille is one of the main challenges of dedicated associations, in particular Valentin Haüy, created in 1889; it is estimated that only 15% of blind people can read it.

A wonderful writing

According to the Federation of the blind and partially sighted in France, “France has a lot to do to allow a full diffusion of this wonderful writing” . The fight continues so that blind people can read the book of their choice, in the format of their choice, within a reasonable time and at the market price. “This is our central struggle today so that they can fully access the knowledge that will condition inclusion in the world of tomorrow,” Vincent Michel insists. On the occasion of his decoration, December 6, 2017, Knight of the National Order of Merit, he did not fail to remind Francoise Nyssen, Minister of Culture, “the crucial and paramount importance of promoting the access to knowledge through Braille books . He suggests that he be “in the tradition of Louis Braille (…) the woman who opened the access to the book for the blind of France”.