Braille day is celebrated on January 4th each year to honour the birthday of Louis Braille, the inventor of the Braille system.
The Braille system is a system of reading and writing that allows people who are blind or visually impaired to read and write through the use of raised dots on paper.
It was developed in the early 19th century and has since become the standard method of communication for the blind community around the world.
In honor of World Braille Day, here is a brief history of the Braille system, some of the challenges faced by people who are blind or have low vision, and some of the ways that the Braille system and other assistive technologies are helping to improve their lives.
The Braille system was invented by Louis Braille, a French man who became blind at the age of three as a result of an accident. Despite his vision loss, Braille excelled in his studies and went on to attend the National Institute for the Blind in Paris, where he became frustrated with the methods of communication that were available to him at the time.
One of the main methods of communication for people who are blind or have low vision at the time was a system called “night writing,” which used raised dots and dashes to represent different letters and words. However, night writing was difficult to learn and use, and it was also not suitable for reading by touch.
Braille, who was a skilled musician and performer, was inspired by the way that sheet music was written and decided to adapt this system for use by people who are blind or have low vision. He created the Braille system in 1824, and it quickly gained popularity at the National Institute for the Blind and beyond.
In Nigeria, Braille day is an important day for the blind community as it serves as a reminder of the progress that has been made in terms of accessibility and inclusion. Even though Nigeria is a predominantly visual society, the Braille system has become an integral part of the lives of many blind individuals in the country.
The Braille system consists of a series of raised dots that are arranged in cells of six dots each. Each cell represents a letter of the alphabet, a number, or a punctuation mark. The different combinations of raised dots allow for the representation of all letters, numbers, and punctuation marks.
Braille is read by touch, with the reader moving their fingertips over the raised dots and interpreting the patterns. It can be used to read and write any language, and it has been adapted for use in a variety of subjects, including mathematics, science, and computer programming.
Despite the many benefits of the Braille system, people who are blind or have low vision still face many challenges in their daily lives. For example, they may have difficulty accessing information, finding employment, or participating in certain activities. Some of these challenges are:
- Lack of access to education: One of the biggest challenges that blind individuals in Nigeria face is the lack of access to education. Many blind children are unable to attend school due to the lack of resources and facilities for them. This is particularly true in rural areas where there is often a lack of awareness about the needs of the blind community.
- Lack of trained personnel: Another challenge that remains is the lack of trained professionals who can teach and support the blind community. While there are some schools and organizations that offer specialized training for blind individuals, there is still a significant shortage of trained teachers and other professionals who can provide the necessary support. This can make it difficult for blind individuals to access the education and resources that they need to succeed.
- Lack of accessible transportation: Another challenge that the blind community in Nigeria faces is the lack of accessible transportation. Many blind individuals rely on public transportation to get around, but in many cases, the infrastructure and accessibility of public transportation are lacking. This can make it difficult for blind individuals to travel to school, work, and other essential locations, limiting their ability to participate fully in society.
However, with the help of organizations such as the Nigerian Association for the Blind (NAB), blind individuals in Nigeria are starting to receive the education and support that they need.
The NAB works to provide education and vocational training for blind individuals, as well as to advocate for their rights and needs. They have also been instrumental in helping to establish Braille libraries and resource centers across the country, providing access to books and other materials in Braille.
One of the major achievements of the NAB has been the establishment of the National Braille Press in Lagos. This press produces a wide range of materials in Braille, including textbooks, magazines, and other materials that are essential for the education and development of blind individuals.
The National Braille Press has also been instrumental in helping to raise awareness about the needs of the blind community in Nigeria, working to break down the barriers and misconceptions that often surround the blind community.
Braille day serves as a reminder of the progress that has been made in terms of accessibility and inclusion for blind individuals in Nigeria. However, there is still a long way to go in terms of ensuring that all blind individuals have access to education and the resources that they need to thrive.
There are, however, many assistive technologies and resources available to help people who are blind or have low vision overcome these challenges. In addition to the Braille system, there are also audio audiobook reader software and other tools that can help people access information and communicate with others.
One example of assistive technology is the refreshable Braille display, which is a device that translates text into Braille in real-time time vice consists of a series of Braille cells that can be raised and lowered to represent different letters and words, allowing the user to read text on a computer or other device by touch.
Another example is the screen reader software, which reads the text on a computer screen aloud to the user, allowing them to access information and use the internet.
As we celebrate Braille day this year, it is important to remember the contributions of Louis Braille and the impact that his invention has had on the lives of blind individuals around the world.
It is also important to recognize the challenges that blind individuals in Nigeria continue to face and to work towards creating an embracing society for all. With the support of organizations such as the NAB and the efforts of the wider community, it is possible to create a more inclusive and accessible society for blind individuals in Nigeria.