Interesting Facts About World Braille Day: Raise Awareness

World Braille Day celebrates the birth of Louis Braille, inventor of the reading and writing system used by millions of blind and partially sighted people all over the globe. Though not a public holiday in any country, World Braille Day provides an opportunity for teachers, charities and non-government organizations to raise awareness about issues facing the blind and the importance of continuing to produce works in Braille, providing the blind with access to the same reading and learning opportunities as the sighted.
Here are some interesting facts about World Braille Day:
1. Louis Braille developed the 6-dot finger tip reading system known as Braille after Charles Barbier visited Louis’s School for the Blind. Charles Barbier, was a captain in Napoleon’s army, and he shared a communication code called Night Writing with the students. Louis was ten years old when he met Charles, but by age 15 Louis had changed the lives of people who are blind forever, with his 6-dot communication system.
2. January 2016 is the launch of Unified English Braille (UEB). Members of the Braille Authority of North America (BANA) voted for UEB to replace English Braille American Edition (EBAE).
3. The World Braille Union (WBU) has worked with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). Together with other concerned organizations a treaty was created to remove barriers of intellectual property being transcribed into braille, called The Marrakesh Treaty. The Marrakesh Treaty was adopted by the WIPO in 2013. However, more needs to be done by United States officials because the treaty was signed but has yet to be ratified.
4. Braille started out as a military code called “night writing.” It was developed in 1819 by the French army so soldiers could communicate at night without speaking or using candles. Fifteen-year-old French schoolboy Louis Braille learned about the code, and eventually developed the more usable, streamlined version of the braille alphabet we know today.
5. Braille is not a language. It’s a tactile alphabet that can be used to write almost any language. There are braille versions of Chinese, Spanish, Arabic, Hebrew and many other languages.
6. There’s a good reason why braille is on the keypad buttons of drive-through ATMs. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) mandates that all ATMs must be accessible to people with visual impairments, and drive-through ATMs aren’t exempt. That’s so passengers who are blind, travelling in the back seat of cars or taxis, can reach the ATM and independently make a transaction without assistance from the driver.
7. As incredible as braille is, and as much as it offers blind and partially sighted people, braille books must stay within the country where they are produced because ofrestrictive international copyright laws. Because braille books cannot be shared across borders, the blind cannot read any books that are not produced within their own country. Unfortunately, at present only 5% of all published materials get produced in accessible formats, which means that under 10% of all blind children in developing countries go to school due to the shortage or lack of teaching materials.

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