[nfb-talk] World Braille Day

David Andrews dandrews at visi.com
Fri Jan 5 04:29:30 UTC 2018

statement for World Braille Day, January 4, 2018
By Kevin Carey, Chair of the WBU, World Braille Council

2018 will be one of the most exciting years for braille since its 
invention by Louis Braille almost 200 years ago. The World Blind 
Union and International Council for Education of People with Visual 
Impairment (ICEVI) have recently released a piece of software, Easy 
Converter Express, which will enable teachers and others who work 
with blind children and adults to produce braille text from digital 
files with little or no training. The software is free of charge to 
all, but the very richest countries and it can be downloaded from 

The software was developed by the WBU Technology Committee at the 
request of ICEVI with funding from the Royal National Institute of 
the Blind of the United Kingdom through a grant from 

At the same time, the Orbit 20 refreshable braille display, developed 
by a consortium of WBU Members, is beginning to emerge in substantial 
quantities from the factory. This device, which was designed in 
consultation with the WBU, is a low cost refreshable braille device 
which acts as a book reader, a simple note taker and a terminal to 
tablets, phones and computers. For more information see: 

As we celebrate this year's World Braille Day, January 4, it is 
important that we agree how to give braille a new lease of life now 
that we have overcome many of the technical and financial factors 
which have made it expensive and hard to obtain. This is also the 
year when we will also try to secure the future of braille music by 
adopting a much more co-operative approach to its production and cataloguing.

Braille is still, in spite of a massive increase in audio resources 
through internet broadcasting, the primary literacy medium for blind 
people; and we know that the use of braille gives a massive boost to 
employment opportunities. But if we are to ensure its survival we now 
have to do two things: we must make sure that braille as available to 
far more children and adults; and we must ensure that braille 
producers, no longer limited by the need to make hard copy braille 
products, produce far more braille titles for use on braille 
displays. The temptation will be to see expanding access to braille 
through cheap displays as an add-on to traditional production but the 
only way we will be able to afford a rapid expansion of title 
availability is to cut hard copy production except in those areas, 
like mathematics and law, where it is essential.

We have the technology for a massive breakthrough; now we need to win 
the argument about how we maximise it.

World Braille Day is celebrated annually in honour of 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. 
The World Braille Day provides an opportunity 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.

The World Blind Union believes that reading is a human right. For 
more information and resources about braille, please visit our 
resources section of our website at: 
/P /BraBraille-Information.aspx

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