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200 years after Braille, the code is still relevant

Tue, 01/16/2018 - 10:55 -- geeta.nair

The word 'Braille' has become synonymous with the cluster of raised dots on a piece of paper which the blind would run their fingers over to read.

But the much revered coded text for the blind actually bears the name of its French inventor, whose birthday organisations and blind individuals across the globe celebrate on January 4.

"This is an important day for the community," said R Anand from the city-based NGO, IAR India. "This is more to remind the community and the wider world about the importance of the coded dots that help millions of people with blindness to gain knowledge."

Anand, an instructor for the blind, believes that Braille literacy has been on the decline for the past 10 years, "thanks to the advancement in voice-guided technology that allows the blind to work with ease on computers and smartphones".

"Braille provides the basic building block for learning," agrees Madhu Singhal, managing trustee of Mitra Jyothi, involved in training and empowerment of the blind in the city. "There are several organisations that spend a lot of time transcribing textbooks and other study materials into Braille, which help those who cannot afford computer or mobile phones."

The fact that Braille is cheap and readily accessible without complicated contraptions makes it the system of choice for several persons with blindness. "There's a debate in the community whether Braille is still relevant in the world of technology, but there's no doubt that it has its place," Madhu insists.

"Even today, it's easier to teach Braille to a blind child than technology, though no one can dispute the advantages technology has brought."

Anand said people going blind later in their lives usually struggle to learn Braille. "On the special day, my request would be that blind people should take Braille seriously," he said. "Even the government agencies should take up campaigns to promote Braille literacy."

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