The Truth About Braille Literacy

MYTH: With today’s advances in technology, braille literacy is no longer a necessity for individuals who are blind.

Photo. Young girl reading a braille book with her parentsFACT: Braille can go anywhere and gives greater freedom than technology alone. Just as sighted individuals keep note paper right alongside their computer keyboards, so do people who use adaptive technology desire to jot down notes, make lists and have labels they can read on everyday objects like food items or medications.

MYTH: Braille is too cumbersome and challenging to teach and learn.

FACT: Braille is a code with logical patterns. If a child who is blind learns braille skills early and alongside the teaching of print skills to children who are sighted, he or she will grow up able to read at speeds comparable to print readers, a life skill of inestimable value.

MYTH: Braille literacy does not directly impact an individual’s ability to live and work independently.

FACT: Among people who are legally blind, those who learn braille as their original reading medium and use it extensively are employed at a significantly higher rate than non-braille users. Thousands of children and adults who are blind or visually impaired depend on braille every day as their means to independent literacy.

How You Can Make a Difference Today

We believe every child who is blind and could benefit from learning braille, deserves the opportunity to do so. We are asking you to write a letter to the Massachusetts Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education, Mitchell Chester.

If you live in Massachusetts, you can use the email form below to tell Commissioner Chester to make braille literacy a priority in these trying budgetary times. However, if you live in another state, you can download the letter template and mail it to your Commissioner of Education.

We encourage you to personalize letters by telling your own story or the story of someone you know to show the impact braille literacy can make on the life of an individual who is blind or visually impaired.

Message

Dear [Decision Maker],

I write to you today because I am concerned about declining braille literacy rates in our schools. Only 12 percent of K-12 students who are blind can read braille, down from 36 percent in 1970. This is an alarming decline. I'm sure you would agree that if literacy rates were as low in the sighted population, it would be considered a national crisis.


Our schools need funding to train and hire braille-qualified teachers, purchase braille books, and provide essential braille literacy tools to students who are blind. The teaching of braille must be approached with the same sense of importance rightly attached to the teaching of print skills to sighted students.
We know that among people who are legally blind, those who learn braille as their original reading medium and use it extensively are employed at a significantly higher rate than non-braille users.


Audio books and talking computers are excellent tools but they cannot replace the independence gained by braille literacy. Just as sighted individuals keep note paper right alongside their computer keyboards, so do people who use adaptive technology desire to jot down notes, make lists and have labels they can read on everyday objects like food items or medications.



As Commissioner of Education, I hope you do all you can to make sure every student in our schools is given the tools to live and work as independently as possible. Braille literacy is essential for children who are blind to attain these goals.

Sincerely,
[Your Name]
[Your Address]
[City, State ZIP]

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