[Nfbmo] Fw: Why is Braille Dying?

James Moynihan jamesmoynihan at kc.rr.com
Tue Mar 2 21:02:28 UTC 2010


This was my response to an article that appeared in the February 15, 2010 issue of Syndicated Columnists Weekly Published by the National Braille Press.


Jim Moynihan
----- Original Message ----- 
From: Diane Croft 
To: James Moynihan 
Sent: Tuesday, March 02, 2010 2:25 PM
Subject: Re: Why is Braille Dying?

Thank you for your thoughtful outline of the state of braille today, and why it's important. We couldn't agree more!

It's a tad late to run in SCW and, anyway, you'd be preaching to the choir - but I will pass it along to development for them to use in their proposals. It is so succinct. Thanks, Jim.


Diane Croft


National Braille Press

617.266.6160 ext. 421


On Mar 2, 2010, at 1:24 PM, James Moynihan wrote:

  Diane, This is my response to the article in the February 15, 2010 SCW issue entitled Why is Braille Dying by Stephen Towey and Helen Cota

  At first it may seem beneficial that braille should die because there are alternative sources of information available to blind readers.  Although I have read braille since the first grade I benefit from reading The Week, Sports Illusttrated, and National Review on tape. 

  I enjoy reading these magazines and books from the Library of Congress on tape but I have never deluded myself in to thinking that I have actually read these publications.  Various readers have read these publications to me and I have listened to them with enjoyment.

  In the 1950's most blind children attended residential schools for the blind where blind children learned to read braille. I attended LavelleSchool for the Blind in the Bronx in New York City.  At Lavelle Totally blind and partially sighted children were required to read and write braille.  Those children who were partially sighted also learned to read and write print.

  The situation changed with the passage of P.L.94-142, the Education of the Handicapped Act.  Parents of children with disabilities demanded that their children attend schools with their nondisabled peers.  With the availability of recorded books and computers with synthesized speech it was not deemed necessary to instruct blind children to read and write braille.

  Since fewer and fewer blind children were learning to read and write braille there were fewer competent teachers available to instruct blind children to read and write braille.  The situation grew worse so that today only %10 of blind adults know how to read and write braille.  

  If braille is dying blind people are in big trouble.  The American people are worried when the national unemployment rate reached %10.  The unemployment rate for the blind is either %70 or %80 depending on who is providing the statistics.  We have heard this shocking statistic for so many years so it has no impact on our brains.  If you were fortunate enough and were taught to read and write braille the employment rate for the blind is %80 to %90.  In other words if a blind child is taught to read and write braille their chance of being gainfully employed rises to %80.

  After reading this interesting article I began to wonder why it would not be appropriate whether reading and writing print should also be dying.  America would save billions of dollars if sighted children did not learn to read and write print.  We know that sighted children have access to digital recorders, computers, DVD's, cellphones and Iphones.  

  Parents would revoltif it were seriously suggested that their children not be taught to read.  Nevertheless it is perfectly acceptable for braille to die because it is easier for blind children and adults to listen to recordings and computers  with synthesized speech.         More to the point,  it is cheaper for school districts not to provide specialized teachers and special books and equipment  than it is to take the time and effort to teach blind children to read and write braille. 

  If blind children are taught to read and write braille when they grow up they can become employed members of our society. Thank you for considering my comments to this article.


  James Moynihan

  SCW Reader


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