The Braille system: an eye-opener for specially abled eyes

“Even without sight, there is still vision”

Since 2019, 4th January has been honored as ‘World Braille Day’ for raising awareness of the significance of Braille as one of the means of communication in the complete implementation of human rights for visually impaired individuals. It is also observed in remembrance of Louis Braille, the father of the Braille System. Braille Script was developed by Louis Braille in 1824. Braille is a universally accepted system that enables blind and partially sighted people to read and write through touch. Braille script is a gift that has brightened the lives of many people.

Braille is a method of representing alphabets and mathematical symbols. Each letter or symbol is represented by six dots and is displayed in a visual font. It is necessary for visually impaired individuals for education, freedom of opinion, and social integration.

This system has assisted many people in reading and writing and in becoming who they are or were, some of whom are listed below:

  1. Helen Adams Keller

Helen Keller was an American writer, disability rights activist, political activist, and educator. She lost her ability to see and hear due to an illness at just a mere age of nineteen months. She was introduced to the braille system by her first teacher, Anne Sullivan. Later, she attended Radcliffe College and obtained her bachelor’s degree in arts, and she became the first deaf-blind person to earn such educational qualification. She has written 14 books and numerous essays on a plethora of topics ranging from the environment to Mahatma Gandhi. The life of Keller and her lifetime companion, Anne Sullivan, become known from her autobiography in 1903, ‘The Story of My Life‘. In 1971, she was nominated in the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame‘. On 8th June 2015, she was able to make it into the Alabama Writers Hall of Fame as one of the twelve first nominees.

2.Matilda Ann Aston:

Matilda Ann Aston, aka Tilly Aston. She was an Australian author and lecturer. She had vision impairment since birth, but she lost most of her vision at the age of 7. Thomas James, a traveling disabled missionary, showed her how to read in Braille, and she continued to study in the Braille system. Tilly then became the first Australian blind person to get admitted into the University of Melbourne. Unfortunately, she had to leave the university halfway through her education due to a lack of braille books. She authored eight volumes of poetry between 1901 and 1940. Tilly Aston’s autobiography, “The Memoirs of Tilly Aston: Australia’s Blind Poet, Author, and Philanthropist”, was published in 1946. She wrote in Esperanto for individuals worldwide and was the editor and chief contributor to A Book of Opals, a Braille magazine for Chinese missionary schools.

She established the Victorian Association of Braille Writers and later the Association for the Advancement of the Blind to advocate for independence and autonomy, social progress, and constitutional amendments for the visually impaired people. Furthermore, she was awarded the “King’s Medal” twice for exceptional humanitarian contributions.

3.Urmil Sharma

She lost her vision at the age of 4. She got admitted to class 1, where they were taught in Braille, which helped her a lot to read and write. She then worked in a bank and simultaneously studied for graduation by taking braille notes and graduating with flying colors. Moreover, she also gave speeches and addressed many VIP dignitaries, where she got certificates of appreciation. Braille was first implemented in India in 1983 at the “All India Confederation of the Blind in Delhi”. She received training in the first batch of the course above, which she later accomplished as “The First Indian Blind Stenographer“. The Government of India presented her the National Award for ‘The Outstanding Employee’ in 1994. Her name was also inscribed in the “Limca Book of Records” in 1996. However, her achievements didn’t end here; she was also awarded “Bharat Vikalang Bhushan” and “Neelam Kanga Citation“.

-Ritika Behera

Ritika Behera is a sophomore Chemical Engineering student at NIT Rourkela in Odisha. She enjoys reading literature, creative writing, volunteering, and teaching young children.