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World Braille day

Dr. Anju Harish, Consultant Ophthalmologist , SUT Hospital, Pattom
World Braille day

Vision is one of the greatest gifts of life. In order to honour Louis Braille the inventor of ‘Braille’, every January 4th is celebrated as World Braille Day. His gift to the world has lightened the lives of millions around the world who are visually impaired or blind. The day also acknowledges that those with visual impairments deserve the same standard of human rights as everyone else.
Louis Braille was a French man who lost his eyesight as a child when he accidently stabbed himself in the eye with a needle while working with his father’s leather making tools. From the age of ten, he spent time at Royal Institute for Blind Youth in France where he formulated and perfected the system of raised dots that that eventually became known as Braille. He developed a code based on cells with six dots which came to be accepted as main form of written information for the blind.

Braille’s marvellous aid opened up a world of accessibility to the visually impaired. As an honour UNESCO declared January 4th as World Braille day on November 2018.

Braille is an alphabet that can be used to write almost any language and versions are available in Arabic, Chinese, Hebrew, Spanish and more. There is a unique version of Braille specifically for maths and science called the Nemeth Code. Even blind musicians can benefit greatly from learning to read music in Braille. Braille music utilizes the usual six dot cell, but features its own syntax and transitions.

World Braille Day is celebrated in different ways around the world. Some common ways to celebrate include events to hold awareness about Braille system, organizing workshops or lectures about Braille and promoting use of this in schools and other educational institutions.

In Trivandrum, the capital city of Kerala a rehabilitation centre named ‘PUNARJYOTHI’ has been set up to aid blind and partially sighted people. This was set up jointly by Kerala government and alumni association of Regional Institute of Ophthalmology and aims to provide services to the visually challenged patients across the state.

The theme for 2023 World Braille day is yet to be announced. The celebration’s theme last year focused on significance of Braille as a key that opens up door for people with disabilities to pursue an education and obtain reading skills compete in job market and make equal contributions to society.

World Braille day is an occasion to recognise and honour Louis Braille and the significant impact that Braille has had on the lives of people who are blind or visually impaired. It has provided a way for persons with visual loss to access information, communicate with the world and achieve independence, education and employment opportunities that may have been out of reach without it. It has also helped to break down barriers and promote inclusion and equality for people with vision loss. Thus World Braille day is an opportunity to honour the work of those who have dedicated their lives to advancing Braille literacy and reaffirm our commitment to supporting and empowering people with vision loss.