World Braille Day is observed on 4 January every year. Initiated by the United Nations in 2019, this day is observed globally to celebrate the usefulness of Braille, the world’s most popular tactile writing system, for blind and partially sighted people. The date of 4 January was chosen to honor Louise Braille, the inventor of the Braille writing system. Louis Braille was born on 4 January 1809.
What is Braille?
Braille is a tactile writing system used by the blind and partially blind people. The letters in braille are written with combinations of 6 dots embossed over a thick sheet of paper. This 6 dot system can be used to write letters, numbers as well as musical notes. It is written using a braille typewriter or a pointed and a braille slate to punch dots on paper. It is read by passing one’s finger over the embossed paper.
Before the invention of the braille, no other system gave so much independence in reading and writing to blind people. Big-sized embossed letters were used to familiarize blind people with letters and there was no way through which blind people could write anything. The invention of braille transformed the education system for blind and partially sighted people.
This braille writing system was developed in the 19th century by Louis Braille who was then a 15-years old young boy. Louis who was rendered blind at a very young age due to an accident, worked tirelessly for two years to develop this tactile writing system. Interestingly, his system of writing was not accepted until after his death.
Commemoration of World Braille Day
The first World Braille Day was observed on 4th January 2019. Though braille was considered important earlier too, the COVID-19 pandemic increased awareness about the importance of this writing and reading system for the blind. The pandemic made it starkly clear how important is braille for disseminating important information to blind people. Without the availability of information in accessible formats people with disability would be at an increased risk of getting the infection.
The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CPRD) considers braille essential not only for educational purposes but for social inclusion, access to information, and freedom of expression and opinion. This is the reason it puts emphasis on standardizing the braille writing system which currently has various different versions around the world.
Significance of World Braille Day
Approximately 2.2 billion people around the world have a visual impairment to varying degrees. Of the total 3.44% of legally visually impaired people, 0.49% are blind. World Braille Day is observed to put emphasis on the importance of Braille which is an accessible reading and writing format for people living with blindness and near blindness. This day is aimed at spreading awareness about this tactile script that can be used to provide blind people with information in a format they can easily access and utilize to be contributing members of society. It is a reminder of the importance of accessibility and independence to people who cannot see.
World Braille Day is an opportunity to pay respect to the inventor of this writing system that has empowered blind people for ages and also to spread awareness about this tactile writing system. If you want to learn more about Braille and have some first-hand experience with this system, you can try WeCapable’s Braille Translation Tool which is available in English, Hindi, Arabic, Spanish, French and various other languages. And, do not forget to share this and spread some awareness about braille.
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