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World Braille Day: January 04th

World Braille Day has been celebrated on January 4 since 2019, when the United Nations (UN) established this day to bring importance to the tactile literacy system used by people who are blind or have some degree of visual impairment to be able to read, write and communicate with their environment and community. The date aims to «raise awareness of the importance of braille as a means of communication for the full realization of human rights» for this sector of the population, according to the UN.

What is Braille?

Braille is an internationally recognized system of tactile representation of alphabetic and numerical symbols that uses 6 dots to represent each letter and number, as well as musical, mathematical and scientific symbols.

As detailed by the UN, braille «is a means of communication for blind persons, as reflected in Article 2 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and may be relevant in the contexts of education, freedom of expression and opinion, and access to information and written communication, as well as in the context of social inclusion for blind persons, as reflected in Articles 21 and 24 of the Convention».

Why was January 4th chosen to celebrate World Braille Day?

The UN chose January 4th to celebrate World Braille Day because it is the date on which the creator of the reading and writing system, Louis Braille, was born. He was a French pedagogue and priest, born in 1809, who at the age of 3 suffered an accident in his father’s workshop and, as a consequence, suffered irreversible blindness.

Years later, while studying at the School for the Young Blind and Deaf in Paris, he tested the system used by a French military man named Charles Barbier de la Serre to give orders at night without giving away positions. Louis Braille transformed the military man’s system, which was based on 8-dot cells, and created one with 6-dot cells in relief, organized on the basis of a matrix of three rows by two columns.

What is the braille system?

Braille is not a language, but an alphabet. Braille can be used to represent letters, punctuation marks, numbers, scientific graphs, mathematical symbols, music, etc. Braille for the blind is the language used by visually impaired or blind people to write and read texts, books and documents.

Braille usually consists of cells of six raised dots, organized as a matrix of three rows by two columns, conventionally numbered from top to bottom and left to right.

The braille language system is the primary means of communication for a person with profound visual impairment. The system is based on forming symbols for each letter or number by combining 6 dots. The dots that are in relief represent a letter or sign of the writing in visual characters.