Braille

Written by Amy Hall
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Most of us have heard the term, Braille, used in reference to a specialized code enabling the blind to "read." Essentially, braille is a simplified system of raised dots allowing blind people to accomplish such reading via touch. Now, braille is translated into nearly every language in the world, providing enrichment and education to the otherwise print-disabled.

This system of writing and reading has been around for nearly 200 years, and originated in Paris, France. Louis Braille was a blind teenager who innovated the method itself. And, though it has been altered, it is virtually the same system which existed in 1834. As a child, Braille had injured his eye with an awl in his father's leather shop, and subsequently lost his vision, due to infection problems. At first, Braille learned through listening, but as he grew older, the need to be able to read and write became more pressing. He excelled in school at the Royal Institution for Blind Youth in Paris, despite having to deal with cumbersome books containing large tactile characters.

As time progressed, Braille caught word of a system of raised dots invented by a French army captain, Charles Barbier de la Serre, to be used by soldiers as a means of sharing information in the dark without speaking. Braille expanded on Barbier's system, basing his code on the traditional alphabet, which reduced the number of dots by 50 percent. Braille's first book was published in 1829, which was later followed by braille math books and music books. The far-reaching effects of Braille's work continue to benefit the print-disabled population even to this day.

Braille in the Modern World

Today, braille is one of the main forms of reading and writing for the print-disabled population. Braille books are written in a host of languages, so that the blind on every continent can learn, write, and read in their native tongues. Braille is a powerful and articulate means for communicating the written word in any language, comprising a wide variety of subject matters, from instructional books to the latest bestsellers.

Today, braille textbooks are used in institutions of higher learning throughout the United States and the world. Many large corporations utilize braille technical manuals to aid print-disabled employees for training, reference, and continuing education courses. Fortunately, with modern advancements in communications, the blind population receives their just entitlement to fully participate in linguistic expression and a larger degree of independence.

Braille Transcription Services

Braille transcription services essentially convert the spoken and written word into braille, by entering key combinations in accordance with braille's unique code and rules, converting language to the appropriate braille translation. Technology has also provided a gateway so that documents that are in electronic format can be converted to a braille format. Today, textbooks to training manuals to wedding invitations are crafted using braille codes, allowing the print-disabled to read and write with greater ease.

Until Braille perfected the innovation of this method, most blind students were forced to learn in school by solely listening, without receiving the benefits of reading for themselves. While braille transcription produces the raised, readable dots, the science of braille transcription requires more than simply specialized typing. Rather, the transcriptionist transforms the spoken language into braille's methods of communication, by effecting an intricately structured conversion.


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