Are Braille’s Days as the Great Equalizer Over?By Wallace, Kenyon; Braille Monitor, Vol. 53, No. 10, pp. 804-808
Article discusses the current state of Braille literacy among blind and low vision individuals in Canada. The decline in Braille instruction for blind school aged children, from roughly 50 percent in the 1960s to about 10 percent, is ascribed to factors including (1) funding and Braille teacher shortages; (2) decisions to deny Braille instruction to children with low vision; (3) advances in assistive technology such as audio books, voice recognition software, and computer screen readers; (4) the cumbersome, bulky nature of printed Braille; and (5) the integration of blind children within the regular school system, resulting in less one on one time with Braille instructors. While advocates for integration of blind and low vision students maintain that assistive technology has rendered Braille obsolete, those who favor Braille instruction hold that many students who do not learn Braille end up being functional illiterate, as supported by a study cited from the University of Calgary. The study compared the writings, using audio software, of blind people who learned Braille at a young age with those who did not, finding the prose of the nonBraille group to be jumbled and confused due, the researchers concluded, to this group not having access to a way of organizing thought that depends on a system of written record. A brief summary of the development of the six dot Braille system by its inventor, the Frenchman Louis Braille, is included.
Published by: National Federation of the Blind (Website:http://www.nfb.org)
Link to text: http://www.nfb.org/images/nfb/Publications/bm/bm10/bm1010/bm101005.htm
Link to audio: https://www.nfb.org/images/nfb/Audio/Braille_Monitor/2010/November/05_Are_Brailles_Days_As_The_Great_Equilizer_Over.mp3