Since 2019, World Braille Day has been celebrated to create awareness of the importance of Braille; an access and communication tool that has played a key role in the realization of human rights for blind and partially sighted people.
Braille is the system of raised dots used for reading and writing by people who are blind or severely visually impaired. It is read with the fingertips, although with practice people with sight can read it with their eyes. Letters, numbers, punctuation marks, and numerous other symbols can be written with Braille. Although not technically its own language, Braille is a form of code and can be learned by just about anyone.
Although its roots trace back to the 19th century, when in 1829, its blind inventor; Louis Braille created a tactile alphabet in order to be able to read and write, and thus gain access to an education, the news of this increasingly important tool receiving its own international day of recognition could not have arrived at a more relevant moment, as in its third year of celebration (2021), World Braille Day was recontextualized by the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic.
Although in an ‘ordinary world’, it has been proven that people with disabilities receive less access to healthcare, employment, and opportunities to participate in their local communities, the pandemic highlighted the need to produce essential information in accessible formats, including in Braille and audible formats. In early 2021, it was reported that the Pandemic affected their health, access to healthcare for non-coronavirus-related issues, well-being, and access to groceries, medication, and essentials compared with non-disabled people” You might also recall that news broadcasters around this period openly discussed the worse impact of Covid-19 on people with learning difficulties than people without.
Although the circumstances of misfortune and inequality have changed since Louis Braille’s time, Braille paper continues to endure as a form of communication for marginalized people in times of crisis.
On World Braille Day 2022, Direct Access would like to implore businesses to facilitate accessible formats as a means of communication as it is the right thing to do for customers and potentially valuable employees who might also be people with disabilities. As our post-COVID world has forced much of society to utilize digital media and formats to facilitate communication, shopping, entertainment, and business; digital accessibility is now necessary to ensure the digital inclusion of all people. Braille is essential in the context of education, freedom of expression and opinion, as well as social inclusion, as reflected in Article 2 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.