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Published: 10th January 2023 07:21 AM | Last Updated: 10th January 2023 07:21 AM | A+A A-
KOCHI: Louis Braille, the inventor of ‘Braille’, lightened the lives of millions around the world who are visually impaired or blind. So on January 4, people around the globe celebrate his birthday as World Braille Day. The day also acknowledges that those with visual impairments deserve the same standard of human rights as everyone else.
Braille was a French man who lost his eyesight as a child when he accidentally stabbed himself in the eye with a needle while working with his father’s leather-making tools. From the age of ten, he spent time at the Royal Institute for Blind Youth in France where he formulated and perfected the system of raised dots that eventually became known as Braille. He developed a code based on cells with six dots which came to be accepted as the main form of written information for the blind.
Braille’s marvellous aid opened up a world of accessibility to the visually impaired. Braille is an alphabet that can be used to write almost any language and versions are available in Arabic, Chinese, Hebrew, Spanish and more. There is a unique version of Braille specifically for maths and science called the Nemeth Code. Even blind musicians can benefit greatly from learning to read music in Braille. Braille music utilises the usual six-dot cell but features its syntax and transitions.
World Braille Day is celebrated in different ways around the world. Some common ways to celebrate include events to hold awareness about the Braille system, organising workshops or lectures about Braille and promoting the use of this in schools and other educational institutions.
In Thiruvananthapuram, a rehabilitation centre named ‘PUNARJYOTHI’ has been set up to aid blind and partially sighted people. This was set up jointly by the Kerala government and the alumni association of the Regional Institute of Ophthalmology. The centre aims to provide services to visually challenged patients across the state. The celebration’s theme last year focused on the significance of Braille as a key that opens up door for people with disabilities to pursue an education and obtain reading skills to compete in the job market and make equal contributions to society.
World Braille Day is an occasion to recognise and honour Louis Braille and the significant impact that Braille had on the lives of people who are blind or visually impaired. It has provided a way for persons with vision loss to access information, communicate with the world and achieve independence, education and employment opportunities that may have been out of reach without it. It has also helped to break down barriers and promote inclusion and equality for people with vision loss.
And the day is an opportunity to honour the work of those who have dedicated their lives to advancing Braille literacy and reaffirm the commitment to support and empower people with vision loss.
The writer is a consultant ophthalmologist at SUT Hospital in Pattom.
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