Friday, January 4

Happy birthday Louis!

Greetings. On 1/4/1809, Louis Braille was born. If he were alive today, he would be 199. A lot could be said, and perhaps should be said, here about the decline of Braille over the past few decades and the percentage of students that learn Braille now verses 30 or 40 years ago. The fact remains though that among working age blind people, a high percentage of them use Braille on the job. I've heard different numbers here, like 80 to 85% or more. This alone is an indication of the independence, literacy and freedom that Braille can bring to someone. In the mid eighties, a new innovation was gradually introduced that would later transform Braille: the electronic Braille display which produced refreshable Braille. These days, people can carry around electronic note takers and read dozens, even hundreds, of electronic Braille books and files, verses attempting to carry all those volumes of Braille. There's still no greater feeling though then to run your fingers over a new, crisp page of Braille. I wonder what Louis would say if we could go back in time and show him how far his code of dots would reach. So, in celebration and recognition of his birth, read a page, chapter, or a whole book in Braille today. Have cookies with M&M's on them in dot patterns. However you do it, go and use Braille. (And, for you math majors out there, next year will be his 200th birthday. There will likely be lots of talking and celebrating of Braille then as well).

Incidentally, if you want to learn about the history and impact of Braille, then check out a publication from the National Federation of the Blind called The World Under My Fingers. This book is primarily written for parents or educators of children and presents why Braille needs to be taught. However, I think it does a great job of making the case for Braille and showing how it can be used in everyday life.

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