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Vision loss can occur early or late in life. But no matter when the vision loss occurs, it is important such persons learn alternative ways of knowing about things that they cannot now see. It is also important that their family members, loved ones and caregivers also learn such skills to facilitate communication among themselves. Braille is a system of using tactile symbols to express an already existing language.

It uses raised dots to represent the letters of the print alphabet. It also includes symbols to represent punctuation, mathematics and scientific characters, music, computer notation and various languages. While it might look too complicated to learn, it is very useful in helping the visually impaired remain relevant in society.

A brief history

Interestingly, Louis Braille invented the Braille system based on the work by Charles Barbier de la Serre, a soldier in the French Army during the late 18th century. Charles invented a system of ‘Night Writing’ for French soldiers where they were able to pass along and read written communication at night without using a light source, very important when avoiding disclosure in a hostile war environment. He later introduced it to the blind. Loius Braille learned about the system in school and was interested in it. He improved on the system and created what is now used today.

So, it turns out that Braille was invented based on night reading, a system created for people who were not visually impaired!

How useful is it?

Though it might seem more difficult for some, it is a skill that improves with practice. Knowing how to read Braille means one can help companies which want to add Braille to their product packaging. Braille is already on foods, cleaning chemicals, CDs, appliances, remote controls, clothing labels and so many other products. Knowing how to read it can be the difference between selecting a bottle of chemical instead of a bottle of fruit juice.

Braille can be learned online or in a classroom.  Before the Braille method was widely accepted, his school mates at the Royal Institute for Blind Youth in Paris learned the method and used it to pass notes around that no one else could read. While not a new language, the ability to read and understand Braille just is as valuable.

If you are experiencing early or late-onset vision impairment or someone close to you is, or you have the opportunity to learn it, please do. There are many opportunities open to one who can read Braille. Reach out to us for more information on learning Braille.