National Braille Week: 4th-11th January

Did you know that this week is National Braille Week?
Let me begin by saying many happy returns to the late Louis Braille! Every year National Braille Week begins on the creator of Braille’s birthday (4th January) and runs until the 11th January.

Louis Braille was a blind man from France who created Braille waaay back in 1825. The system uses cells to represent a character, each cell is made up of 2 columns of three dots, six dots in total.

Rather than regurgitating information I’ve discovered about Braille, I’ll leave it to the experts, please see the useful links below. I’ve found the RNIB website very useful in providing information and resources.

It is a common misconception that all blind people use Braille, in fact it is quite a small percentage. To make information more accessible to visually impaired people do consider alternative methods in addition to Braille such as large print (bearing in mind the clarity of your choice of font and colours) and audio.  Nevertheless, information should be made accessible to our Braille-reading friends. Creating signs in Braille should only be half of your efforts, it is equally important to position your lovingly created signs where a visually impaired person can find them. Ideally they should be placed at eye level near the object or facility they are describing and should be accessible for the person to feel, i.e.  don’t put plant pots or filing cabinets beneath them.

I’m sure many people have come across inappropriately placed signs and I’ve love to hear from your experiences (posting photos if possible would be even better). Sharing this frustrating but in hindsight comical encounters of “what not to do” may promote awareness to businesses and individuals. I envisage a “humorous” book of badly placed or constructed Braille signs.
Here are a few examples that I have stumbled upon:

Music in Braille
Just to link in with the Arts side of my blog, Braille can be written to depict music notation to be memorised by a visually impaired musician. This looks fascinatingly complicated, please visit RNIB for a more coherent explanation and example than I could ever hope to give.
Technology and Braille
In an ever technologically advancing world Braille and technology have become great friends. I have discovered a couple of Braille iPhone apps although I haven’t tried them out (as I can’t read Braille). If anyone reading has experience with these or any other apps, good or bad please leave your comments and words of wisdom on this post.

The first app is Type In Braille by Everywhere Technologies. It is compatible with the iPhone 3GS, 4 and 4S, iPod touch 4th generation and iPad and works on iOS5 or later. It costs £2.99 and claims to understand gestures to type in Braille rivalling speech to text apps as it can be used in noisy environments.

If you want to learn Braille FREE on your iDevice Visual Braille Lite by Michael Doise can teach you on your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad using iOS 4.2.

Here is a link to a video of how to use the app.
Whether you choose to learn a bit of Braille or just increase your awareness, Happy National Braille Week to all!
RNIB pages

National Braille Press with downloadables, shop and services:
A Braille Generator for a bit of fun:

2 responses to this post.

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