Since last January 4, 2019, at the United Nations, recognized and declared World Braille Day on this date. This event coincides with the birth of the creator of the literacy system that bears his name.
Louis Braille, who was born this day in 1809 in France, became blind due to an accident during his childhood while playing in his father’s workshop.
This recognition aims to create greater awareness about the importance of braille as a means that allows access to culture and education and as a means of communication for full integration and achievement of the human rights of blind and visually impaired people in the world, This is reflected in the spirit of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
But what does Braille mean for deafblind people?
Contributing in addition, all the possibilities that for access to culture and education allow, as for any other blind person, this code or literacy system can be the only and exclusive means to access information and, above all, distance communication for many deafblind people. When there are no functional sensory remains to access information through the visual or auditory channel, Braille becomes the exclusive medium that allows this in a full way.
Other systems of tactile access to information are not as widespread or even much more limited systems, methods in vibration patterns, provide deafblind people with useful but very concrete solutions. There is nothing more complete or alternative to allow deafblind people to access information, culture and distance communication than Braille.
We cannot allow therefore Braille to identify itself with something old or less current. The new technologies have allowed Braille to be a basic and fundamental accessibility tool. For deafblind people, it means the possibility of communicating in the distance with any other person. There is nothing similar or alternative for this to be a reality and allow that communication.
From the heavy, old and expensive Braille Lines of the 90s to the possibility that a deafblind person can use their smartphone and access it to communicate on Whatsapp as anyone thanks to the Braille system is an impressive leap in the communication possibilities deafblind people.
From ONCE in Spain we strengthen and bet strongly on Braille and because this set Technology + Internet + Braille can be the way for many deafblind people to be able to communicate with those who are not physically there.
We all know about the difficulties of learning Braille in adulthood, and more if there are linguistic difficulties derived from hearing loss but this effort is essential and necessary to avoid the lack of communication and dependence of people in the environment so that a deafblind person can access remote communication and information with a minimum of autonomy and personal possibilities. There are very important reasons that justify it.
Happy World Braille Day.
Eugenio Romero Rey. ONCE Deafblind Technical Unit Coordinator.