Observing World Braille Day on the 4th of January in memory of renowned Louis Braille who changed the landscape for the visually impaired.
4th January is celebrated every year as World Braille Day in the honor of the famous French educator Louis Braille. Recognized by the United Nations in 2019, it is observed to raise awareness of the Braille system as means of communication for blind and partially sighted people. The day marks the birth anniversary of the Frenchman.
Losing sight at just the age of 3 years old due to a stitching accident, he pursued his education at France’s Royal Institute for Blind Youth. It is a one-of-a-kind institute for blind students and serves as a model for many subsequent schools. While pursuing his education at the institute, Louis Braille developed the system.
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. The system was inspired by Charles Barbier’s system. By the age of 15 years, Braille had almost completed developing the system which he shared with his peers at the institute.
The first version of the system was published in 1829. The reason why his system is different from other systems is its robust range of uses. The system was also extended to music in the form of braille music notation. The system is important in the context of education, freedom of expression and opinions, and much more. Braille is now used in many languages and is a standard form of communication for visually impaired or partially sighted people.
In India, many institutes have been implementing Braille to increase inclusivity for blind students. Delhi University’s first-ever Centre for Disability Studies opened today itself at the Indraprastha College for Women. It will help in integrating Braille into their curriculum thus making it easier for students. Even in October last year, Kurukshetra University opened an assistive technology lab. The purpose of the lab was to help students study from printed books by reading and listening to the text.
In our day-to-day lives, we can see the global and significant reach of the Braille system. Not only used for writing books and publications but it is also used in public places as signages, like on lift keypads, door signs, restaurant menus, etc.