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National Braille Awareness Month (by Krystle )

In the US, January is celebrated as National Braille Literacy Month. The month was chosen because the creator of the modern Braille, Louis Braille, was born on January 4th 1809. The purpose of the month is to spread awareness of Braille. According to the American National Federation of the Blind (NFB), there are nearly 1.3 million Americans who are blind. However, the number of them who learn Braille has declined a lot, from 50% of blind or visually impaired students in 1950 to only 10% today. One of the reasons for that is most likely the fact that speech-to-text technology has become much better, making it less important that you are able to write or read yourself.
Braille is the system of small raised dots that allow blind and visually impaired people to read. However, the system wasn't always meant for that. The original idea for what eventually became Braille was developed as a way for French soldiers to be able to silently communicate and receive orders during night time where fire to read by could give them away to enemies. However, the system that was created turned out to be much too difficult for the soldiers to use efficiently and was therefore scrapped. The creator of the night writing system met Louis Braille, a blind boy, in 1821. Braille identified some of the problems with the system and developed his own improved system in 1824, only 15 years old. The system was published in 1829. Instead of using 12 dots as the original system did, Braille's system only uses six, which makes it much easier to recognize the letters.

Braille is based on the Latin alphabet. Each letter consists of up to six dots, placed in a 3x2 square (like the number six on a dice). These squares are called cells. Cells can be used to represent a letter of the alphabet, a number, punctuation, part of a word or even a whole word. The first 10 letters (a-j) use the positions of the upper four dots. The next 10 letters (k-t) are identical to the first 10, except a dot has been added in the bottom left corner. For the next letters, both spots in the bottom have been filled. For "special" letters like w, æ and accented letters, the bottom right dot is used alone. For punctuation, the original patterns from the first series (or decade, as they are called) are used again, just moved down a notch.

Since each letter has to take up enough space that you are able to tell the letters apart, texts in Braille are typically a lot longer than 'normal' texts. In fact, Braille takes up around 33% more space than 'normal' letters. For example, “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” is 10 volumes in Braille! However, modern Braille often uses abbreviations and contractions to shorten the otherwise very long sequences and make reading easier. In contracted Braille, there are 180 different contractions. Most children learn contracted Braille, and contracted Braille is considered the standard version.

It is important to notice that Braille isn't a language of its own like sign language, but more of a special writing system. To avoid the chaos had Braille been too different from country to country, most countries, especially those who use the Latin alphabet, have adopted the order and sortings used in the original French Braille system.
According to American sources, 70 percent of blind adults are unemployed and 90 percent of employed, visually impaired adults are able to read and write Braille, indicating a big connection between knowing braille and getting a job. Braille allows users to learn spelling and punctuation as well as getting an understanding of how text is set up on a page.

With today's technology, braille is even more accessible. A lot of braille notepads, transcription software, and refreshable braille displays for computers have been invented, making it possible to take your braille keypad with you and use it throughout the day. Braille displays have also been made, which, connected to a computer, translate all the text on a website to Braille on the display.

By being able to read and write Braille, blind people have much more freedom, as well as personal security, as they themselves are able to read through important documents, prescriptions and the like. By using Braille, people are also able to learn by reading and following the newest book trends, as well as write stories of their own. This means that by using Braille, people can become much more independent.
  • As Louis Braille was passionate about music, he also developed a way to read music with his dot system.
  • There has also been made a math version that can be used to transcribe calculus and algebra.
  • There is an asteroid named Braille in honor of Louis Braille.
  • There’s a Braille “Olympics” for blind students. More than 1,400 students from the U.S. and Canada compete in categories like reading comprehension, proofreading and spelling.
  • There’s a special machine that produces Braille, called a Braillewriter. It only has six keys, a space bar, a line space and a backspace. The six keys on the Braillewriter are numbered so they match the six dots in a braille cell.

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Private wrote on 29-01 22:10:
Amren wrote:
I hadn't really made the time to read it, but it's a very interesting article and I love the lay-out!
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MeNoS wrote on 23-01 18:53:
MeNoS wrote:
this is so interesting!!
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SeptemberBlues wrote on 23-01 04:46:
SeptemberBlues wrote:
these articles are getting much more enjoyable to read :d
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Private wrote on 23-01 02:45:
Rochellette wrote:
This was interesting and the layout is really nice
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Private wrote on 22-01 18:20:
Ahria wrote:
I didnt realise how cool the origin of braille is
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Godis wrote on 22-01 18:15:
Godis wrote:
Very interesting!
Nice Layout!
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Hailee wrote on 22-01 17:59:
Hailee wrote:
amazing article! And the layout is amazing 
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Private wrote on 22-01 17:55:
Chlorine wrote:
Wow, What a great article and lovely layout 
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Private wrote on 22-01 15:07:
Aimz wrote:
Braille makes me curious and I enjoyed this article. Good read! 
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Libertas wrote on 22-01 14:56:
Libertas wrote:
This is such an interesting article!

My mother's grandmother became blind because of her diabetes and she learned how to read braille, unfortunately, no one else in the family knows it but it would be really interesting to learn actually! 

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