Braille changes lives. It gives thousands of people independence, learning, literacy, and the enjoyment of reading. Braille opens doors, and gives hope and inspiration.
Listen to some braille users talking about the difference knowing braille has made to their lives:
The uses of braille extend way beyond just reading books. From dialling a phone number to checking a bank statement, the ability to read braille helps blind people be independent in so many ways every day and reduces the need for support.
Listen to our audio clip of braille users talking about how braille gives them independence:
If you are sighted, just think about how often you read during the day, when you encounter signs and maps, or labels on food and drink. Knowing how to write and read braille means that people can label tins of food in the cupboard, read medicine packaging or even just play cards.
Braille isn't just a replacement for writing. It is easy to forget how important colours, logos, symbols and other visual signposting are to working out what something is. Imagine a world where you couldn't rely on the pictures on labels or the symbols on machinery.
Being able to label clothing, food stuffs and domestic appliances around the home helps blind or partially sighted people live independently. Items such as washing machines can be almost impossible for a blind person to use unless the controls have raised or clear print markings to indicate the different settings or uses of each knob or dial.
In an ideal world, all controls would be designed with tactile markings and large, clear contrasting letters and numbers so that customers could use them easily but this is not always the case.
People who are blind or partially sighted face all sorts of barriers when it comes to getting a job. However, research shows that braille users are far more likely to be in employment.
Listen to our audio clip of braille users talking about how braille has helped them in the workplace:
Many blind and partially sighted people find braille to be useful at work. It is a fast and efficient way to make notes in meetings and can also be useful when reviewing long printed documents. Braille can also be written and read through a computer. A combination of paper and digital braille used alongside other new technologies such as screen readers and magnification software, mean people with sight problems can effectively work in a huge range of jobs.
Being able to use braille is an invaluable skill within the work environment. Research has shown that blind people who use braille are far more likely to be in employment.
RNIB campaigns for children's right to learn braille, whether they are in mainstream or special schools.
There is a clear need to teach braille to blind and partially sighted children from a young age so that they have it as a skill for life. Without braille it is very difficult for blind children to become literate. The joys of punctuation, grammar and spelling are readily accessible via the braille code.
Those children with low vision whose sight might possibly deteriorate are also encouraged to learn braille. The sooner you start reading braille (very much like print) the easier it will be.
Although someone with low vision might be able to read large print, it can be easier to start learning braille while you still have a degree of sight.
The Onkyo Braille International Essay Contest is a yearly creative writing competition for anyone who teaches, transcribes, or uses braille. Find out more, by reading our braille writing competition page.