World Braille Day: January 4

World Braille Day is observed annually on January 4 and is the birthday of braille inventor, Louis Braille.

The day recognizes the contributions he made in helping those with vision loss to read and write.

Before Braille invented this form of communication, visually impaired people read and wrote using the Haüy system which embossed Latin letters on thick paper or leather. The Haüy system was complicated, required much training and only allowed people to read, but not to write.

Discouraged by this, the brilliant and optimistic young Braille invented the braille code, involving bumps and indentations on a surface representing alphabets and numbers and which can be recognized by touch. Braille is traditionally written with embossed paper. Braille-users can read computer screens and other electronic supports thanks to refreshable braille displays. They can write braille with the original slate and stylus or type it on a braille writer, such as a portable braille note-taker, or on a computer that prints with a braille embosser.

While there are now several different versions of braille, Louis Braille’s code was arranged in small rectangular blocks called cells with raised dots in a 3 x 2 pattern. Each cell represents an alphabet letter, a number or punctuation.

Since braille is a code, all languages and even certain subjects like mathematics, music, and computer programming can be read and written in braille. For people with vision loss, braille is the key to literacy.

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