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4 Jan – World Braille Day: Blind People Deserve Equal Treatment

Great people should always be remembered, and their incredible work should be praised, and respected. World Braille Day is celebrated every year around the world on 4th January, mostly by non-government organizations, to commemorate Louis Braille for inventing the Braille language for blind or visually impaired people that helps them read as well as write.

The French educator, Louis, was born in Coupvray, France on 4 Jan 1809. He accidently lost his eyesight when he was only three years old. However, he had an intense desire to be able to read and write properly despite his disability. He developed the 6-dot reading system after Charles Barbier – captain in Napoleon’s army at that time – visited Louis’s School for the Blind, and shared a communication code, viz. Night Writing, with the students. Louis met Charles when he was ten years old. But, at the age of 15, Louis had changed the lives of people who are visually impaired or blind people forever with his invention of the 6-dot communication system by making raised dots on a piece of paper. The dots could easily be felt and comprehended by hand sensation; consequently, enabling even the visually impaired people to feel them and, thereby read and write. His work isn’t limited to alphabets. Since he was passionate about music too, and therefore, in the latter part of his life, he developed Braille language of music as well.

While working on the language for music, he focused on keeping it flexible so that it could effortlessly be adapted to almost any kind of musical instrument worldwide. Though the system was very helpful for people affected by visual impairment, it was only two years upon Louis’s death in 1854 that his school adopted the useful system. Very soon after its adoption, the system achieved immense popularity in entire France. But, it took time for the system to get recognition in other countries. Moreover, there are certain international copyright barriers in sharing braille books across borders. Consequently, many blind people cannot read the books which are not produced within their countries. However, a treaty was created to remove such barriers, called The Marrakesh Treaty. But, more efforts are needed since the treaty was only signed that has yet to be ratified.

The World Braille Day is a day of great significance for individuals working for the blind people to raise awareness regarding the apathy towards blind and partially sighted people, and to help them get equal treatment with rest of the people. Let’s join our hands on 4 Jan 2017 to celebrate and pay tribute to Louis Braille’s incredible work, and help millions of blind and visually impaired people everywhere by sending a letter to our government representatives and designated officials encouraging them to turn The Marrakesh Treaty into an inevitable reality.

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