New technology is making Braille redundant

Non-availability of sufficient material is one of the causes for its decline

On the occasion of 201st birth anniversary of Louis Braille, inventor of Braille language, Deccan Herald spoke to few individuals, who work for the blind and asked them about the importance of Braille in a blind person's life.

K Haridas, a Braille teacher for the past 30 years at National Association for Blind (NAB )says the interest in Braille has deteriorated due to lack of literature available in Braille language.  “Blind students are very much interested in reading, but non-availability of sufficient material is one of the causes for decline of Braille education,” he said.

The government and NGOs are not taking enough initiatives to encourage Braille education in the State.  There are three Braille printers which are lying at NAB without being used and Interpoint Braille are hardly available in the market now, he said.

Although rural students are learning Braille, due non-affordability and non-accessibility of modern technology, Braille is giving them basic education but not the communication skills, he added.

According to M Srinivas, CEO of NAB, there has been a gradual drop in the number of Braille material being supplied by from the past five years.  "There is hardly any demand for Braille books now, "he says.

Fayaz Pasha, one who learnt Braille at a very early age, said that Braille language is like learning alphabet for the blind.  “It is basics, Braille helps you with small things in life like marking your things which cannot be done using your computer of any other gadgets,” Fayaz Pasha said. 

Although, many feel cumbersome and do not have the patience to read Braille nowadays, many blind persons are depending heavily on technology for reading, he added.

“Like how paper and pen is to a normal human being, in the same lines, Braille is for the blind,” said Madhu Singhal, Managing Trustee of Mitra Jyothi. 

She says Braille gives a foundation for the basic for a blind; it improves spelling and vocabulary of the person.  It is the first point of contact to the world of knowledge which is felt through a touch of the Braille language for the blind.

Although, introduction of refreshable Braille display is remarkable to encourage reading, basic Braille on paper has a different feeling says Shanti Raghavan, Founder, and Managing Trustee of Enable India.  “Braille helps to label your things.  Apart from improving one's spellings, basic Braille to improve reading habit," she said
However, nowadays, many parents are not opting for basic Braille education and are dependent the new technologies, she added.

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