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For many people who are blind or have low vision, braille is vital tool when it comes to accessing and producing written material.

Each year, the importance of braille is celebrated on World Braille Day on January 4.

World Braille Day

World Braille Day falls is celebrated on January 4 as that’s the date Louis Braille, the Frenchman who invented the braille alphabet, was born.

Louis Braille was only 11 years old when he began developing the braille alphabet while a student at Paris’ Royal Institute for Blind Youths. He was motivated to invent a system that would provide people who are blind with access to information by touch, but also a system that could be produced efficiently.

Louis Braille was inspired by fellow Frenchmen Charles Barbier, who had attempted to develop a tactile communication system that could be used by the military.

It took nine years for Louis Braille to develop his alphabet, which has been the basis for braille used across the wourld for nearly 200 years.

The world of braille today

When Louis Braille invented braille, it reflected the French alphabet and grammatical symbols. Over the years, braille has evolved to meet the needs of people who speak different languages or need to access more modern information.

As well as reading and writing in English, there is also a range of braille codes across languages including languages like Japanese and Russian which do not use the Roman alphabet.

It’s also used for more than reading and writing text. There are also braille codes which enable braille readers to use mathematical and scientific symbols and read and write music notation.

There are also different grades of braille regularly used by people who are blind or have low vision. Grade One braille is commonly used for simple tasks like short messages or labelling items and is also used by those who are new to braille.

Grade Two braille includes dot patterns which represent “contractions” and aims to shorten words and condense the space needed for braille text.

Braille production has also evolved, with modern printing equipment and refreshable braille displays making it much easier to produce and access.

Access the world of braille

The Vision Australia Print Access team can support you with all your braille production needs, while Vision Australia also provides braille training.

For more information, email [email protected] or call 1300 84 74 66.