Some common misconceptions about Braille
Braille is a tactile writing system used by visually impaired people. Founded by Louis Braille in the 18th century, Braille is still one of the most commonly used communication methods for blind people. This system of raised dots enables the reader to read the script with their fingers. In fact, each country has adopted their own scripts of reading Braille, and it varies from country to country.
Today, with the onset of technology and assistive devices, Braille has lost some popularity and relevance. Few visually impaired youngsters how to read the Braille. Undoubtedly, technology has brought a set of good things with it by making lives easier and simpler for visually impaired people. But at the same time, there are thousands of classics and renowned books written in Braille by great authors and academicians. Won’t the younger generation miss out on that? Digital Braille is definitely catching up fast. But most of them refuse to buy them because they come at high costs.
Most of the people do not realise that Braille is a script. So each country has its own Braille script like how they have unique languages and their own scripts. For example, we have the Bharatiya Braille exclusively used in India. I must say that Braille has paved way for many assistive devices. But in the beginning, only Braille was there for reading and writing. Most of the people do not realise that visually impaired person must be introduced to Braille. A blind child cannot start using digital devices when they are just two or three years. They need something on paper. That is what Braille is all about and that is why it is important.
Madhu Singhal, Co-founder, Mitra Jyoti, NGO for blind people in Bengaluru
People with and without disabilities also have many misconceptions about Braille. It is time to clear up all those misconceptions about this script.
Here are some common misconceptions about Braille
- Script, not a language – Most people believe that Braille is a language used by visually impaired people. Braille is a script that is used to read and write languages. Each language has their versions of Braille. Like Braille can be written in English, Indian, Spanish and French. So do not confuse it for a language.
- Not just for literary purposes – Undoubtedly, some great classics and texts have been written in Braille. These are passed over from generations and can still be found in exclusive Braille libraries. But Braille is not just to read and write. Today, even big companies are introducing products with Braille on it so that visually impaired people can make use of the script on a day to day basis. A couple of months back, ITC Savlon introduced their packaging in Braille as well.
- Not hard to learn – How do you feel when you are introduced to a foreign language for the first time? It is definitely not easy. A person can take up to months to learn it. Same case with Braille. The misconception that Braille is very difficult is common amongst people without disabilities. It is just because they have not attempted to learn it. Every new language and script can be tough when you take a glance at it for the first time. The closer you get to it, the more you will know about it.
- Started off as writing- Like most of us believe, Louis Braille is not the real founder of Braille script. It was first introduced in 1819 by a group of French soldiers during war time. It helped them to communicate and pass on messages during night time. But necessity is the mother of invention. That is how Louis Braille, who was a visually impaired person, decided to revamp it and make it in use for visually impaired people. No doubt, that was a true blessing.
“Over the years, I have interacted with many blind people and I can say that not all of them know how to read or write Braille. It is also due to the advent of new technology. Most of the people do not know that Braille takes up more space on paper when compared to our English scripts. So one page of English script equals three pages of Braille. Most of them even refuse to carry it around because Braille books are very heavy”, says Professor Ismath Afshan, Former Director of Braille Resource Centre of Bangalore University.
It is important to fight this mindset and keep Braille alive as it is a valuable language, one that needs to be promoted.