More than 90% of published material isn’t accessible to individuals and students who are blind. They often struggle to find accessible versions of books and other online content they need to learn and consume information effectively.
Today, thousands around the world observe World Braille Day to raise awareness and drive inclusion for individuals who are blind or have low vision. With blindness and low vision being one of the top 10 disabilities among adults, the Braille system has empowered many individuals who are blind to effectively communicate, work and learn with greater equity.
“Blind and low vision individuals represent a significant part of our community, but they aren’t being adequately represented,” said Kevin Erler, President of Automatic Sync Technologies. “Educators and professionals everywhere can better advocate for them by investing in technologies that are easy to implement and help to include them in daily scenarios and as they learn, work or consume content online.”
Educators and professionals can participate in today’s celebration by taking action to better support those who are blind and have low vision in the community.
How Braille Works
Louis Braille first developed the Braille system which allows individuals to read and write through touch. Individuals read by moving their fingertips over raised dots that are organized into small “cells” across a page. Each cell symbolizes a different letter, word, or punctuation mark. It even includes formatting for musical and mathematical symbols.
Here are some facts about Braille:
- Braille isn’t a language. It’s a tactile alphabet that can be used to read and write in almost any language, including French, Spanish, Arabic and Hebrew, among others.
- Only 8.5% of students know how to read Braille. That number continues to decrease with the development of audiobooks, voice-recognition software, and screen reader technologies that provide alternative ways for individuals who are blind to read and write.
- Braille was inspired by a code called “Night Writing” that was used by the French military to communicate during the night. Louis Braille learned the system from Charles Barbier, a captain in the French army who visited his school when he was just 10 years old.
- Several companies have made efforts to produce toys with Braille in recent years, including the card game UNO, the Rubik’s Cube and LEGO bricks.
Incorporate Tools To Support Learners Who Are Blind
Educators and professionals who want to better support students, employees and audiences who are blind or have low vision can incorporate these tools in their processes:
- Braille Printers: Braille printers allow users to print information from documents and books in braille by embossing pints onto heavyweight paper. These printers typically print on heavyweight paper and use more pages than books printed on a regular printer would.
- Reading Assistance Tools: Individuals who are blind benefit from using reading assistance tools like refreshable Braille displays. These devices process information from students’ computers and electronically raise and lower different combinations of pins to form readable braille cells.
- Audio Description: Description can greatly help students who are blind participate in their classes with equity, as well as employees and consumers who are watching videos or engaging with online content. Extended audio descriptions like those offered by AST help make video accessible with text and voice descriptions of visual elements that appear in videos. Video players such as the CaptionSync Smart Player also allow students who are Blind to easily listen to descriptions and are fully accessible according to the WCAG guidelines that many institutions require.
- Braille Translation Software: Braille translation tools are used to convert documents into braille files that can be sent to a person’s personal reading device or Braille display. This translation software is useful for individuals who need quicker access than a normal Braille printer would take.
Commit To Greater Inclusion
World Braille Day is a reminder of the importance of promoting accessibility and inclusion of individuals who are blind and have low vision. Committing to greater accessibility isn’t always easy, but resources and partners like AST are available to make the journey to inclusion much easier.
AST’s audio description offers the level of accessibility needed to include individuals who are blind and have low vision. To learn more or begin partnering with us, reach out.