Five Things You Might Not Know About Braille

January 3, 2019

January 4 marks World Braille Day, a celebration of the reading and writing code used by some blind people. To honor this day and to spread some much-needed awareness, we're sharing five facts about Braille that many people who don't use the system may not yet realize.

Five facts about Braille

Braille is named after a person

Born in Coupvray, France on January 4, 1809 (World Braille Day aligns with his birthday), Louis Braille invented the code that uses raised dots to represent letters and numbers tactually. Because Braille is a proper name, you'll often see the reading and writing system capitalized, although people have differing opinions on whether it should be.

There are Braille codes for almost every language

According to the National Braille Press, Braille "is used today in almost every country in the world, adapted to almost every known language from Albanian to Zulu."

In fact, Braille is not its own language at all

Braille is not a language, but an alphabet code that can be used to write in almost every language.

There is a Braille literacy crisis

Some people may think that all blind people know Braille, but the majority do not. The number of blind children being taught Braille is lower than it has been in the past. Recent estimates from the American Printing House for the Blind find that only 8.2% of blind students are Braille readers. 

Braille is important to digital accessibility

Although Braille relies on physical touch in the physical world, or perhaps because it relies on it, Braille plays a key role in the digital world and is important to digital accessibility. Many people already realize there is Braille on digital devices like ATMs, but how can Braille help someone use a computer? One way is through an assistive technology called a refreshable Braille display, which can communicate the information being shown with a series of pins that raise and lower to duplicate the content in Braille — and continue to refresh as the person reads the material.

Do you know if your website is compatible with refreshable Braille displays?

When web content is built in a way that is accessible, it tends to be accessible to most assistive technologies, including Braille displays. Talk to us about how we can help with, or get started with a free and confidential website accessibility scan.

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