200TH BIRTHDAY ANNIVERSARY OF BRAILLE INVENTOR
Blind people the world over are celebrating the 200th birthday, January 4th, of blind communication pioneer Louis Braille.
The Frenchman gave his name to the revolutionary code of six dots that help the blind read, write and do everyday things that sighted people take for granted.
Over the centuries Braille has had an enormous effect on the lives of millions of people across 120 countries worldwide. It is not a language but a code by which all languages may be written and read. The ability to read and write in Braille opens the door to literacy, intellectual freedom, equal opportunity, and personal security. It is an extremely important gateway to opportunity for the UK’s blind or partially sighted people, enabling them to be more independent.
There are 18,000 UK adults using Braille and the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) is leading the celebrations of Louis Braille’s great achievement throughout 2009.
It is not simply used in books.
From selecting a music CD, choosing a tin of baked beans over spaghetti hoops, reading music, and being able to tell the difference between aspirin and paracetamol, to taking notes at a lecture – Braille means independence for blind and partially sighted people.
David Blunkett MP said: “Braille is a choice.
“For some it means a lifeline to independence, for others, access to literature or information.
“Braille can be hi-tech, or can be produced using old-fashioned means just about anywhere in the world.
“Braille opens up so many opportunities for equality, for independence, and for freedom and privacy: from a simple label on a tin or packet, through to the development of notes for speaking or delivering a statement to the House of Commons.
“RNIB has championed Braille from the charity’s very beginning, and I lend my full support to the plans to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of this great man in 2009.”