[nfbwatlk] Fw: The Case for Braille

Mike Freeman k7uij at panix.com
Tue Apr 7 03:54:11 UTC 2009

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Doris" <dorisbel at telus.net>
To: "list" <list at cfb.ca>
Sent: Monday, April 06, 2009 9:05 AM
Subject: The Case for Braille

The Case for Braille
by William M. Raeder
Trustee and former President, National Braille Press
>From the mid-'60s to the present, the percentage of school-aged blind 
children in this country who use braille as their primary reading medium 
has dropped from 50 percent to 12 percent, and more than a generation of 
blind children has been largely allowed to grow up illiterate under the 
damaging notion that tape recordings and talking computers are 
sufficient for them.

This decline in the teaching and learning of braille has occurred not 
because the value of literacy has in any way diminished. On the 
contrary, in our democratic society for which a literate public is the 
cornerstone and in an economy which is increasingly complex and 
information-driven, the ability to read and write is increasingly 
crucial. This is all the more true as society's vision of the capacity 
of blind people to achieve despite their handicap grows, as prejudices 
against them diminish, as the law supports them in equal employment 
opportunity, and as opportunities for blind people to produce and 
contribute are expanding.

Braille is the only means by which blind people can truly read the 
written language. It is certainly true that for easy reading materials 
such as novels, audio intake using the recorded human voice, or the 
electronically synthesized mimicking of the human voice, is not only 
satisfactory but sometimes preferred by blind people, just as it is by 
sighted people. By the same token, just as sighted people have by no 
means given up the written language in favor of audio only, so blind 
people should not be expected to give up their written language. Here 
are just a few examples of situations in which being able to truly read 
is critical:

  a.. Studying, not simply reading serially, complex material such as a 
chemistry book, cookbook, or financial statement
  b.. Keeping two channels open to the mind at the same time, as in 
delivering a speech when referring to notes
  c.. Taking notes and keeping records for easy reference, such as 
address books and "to do" lists, and labeling items such as food 
containers, file folders, and CDs
  d.. Reading aloud, e.g. to children, in religious services, in class
  e.. Learning the intricacies of language: spelling, grammar, and 
  f.. Communicating with and among people who are deaf and blind, who 
have no other means of human communication other than hand to hand 

Academic research has shown that the early learning of braille 
correlates strongly with both academic and employment success later in 
life. Reading is not only a major -- if not the major -- source of 
practical information for effective thinking and productivity; but also 
a major source for knowledge, inspiration, creativity, and the 
development of values.

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