January marks Braille Literacy Month, with January 4th being World Braille Day. To commemorate this occasion, Galt Foundation would like to raise awareness for Braille and Braille literacy, as well as share different ways that employers can provide support in the workplace for employees with blindness or vision impairments.
A new year brings with it a new opportunity to make a commitment to health, and Galt Foundation hopes to raise awareness around vision impairments and eye health this month.
January marks Braille Literacy Month, with January 4th being World Braille Day. Galt Foundation would like to commemorate this occasion by providing you with a better understanding of the importance of Braille in the disabilities community and sharing ways employers can support staff who are blind or visually impaired.
What Is Braille?
Braille is a tactile alphabetic and numerical system that uses an arrangement of one to six raised dots to represent letters, numbers, and other symbols, including musical and scientific symbols. The relative positions of each raised dot are what enable the reader to determine the characters or words.
Individuals are able to “read” information by moving their fingertips from left to right along each line of raised dots. According to Braille Works, “The average reading speed is about 125 words per minute.”
This reading and writing system was created by Louis Braille in 1824, who had become blind after an accident at a young age. In honor of Louis Braille’s contribution to the blind and visually impaired community, World Braille Day is celebrated every year on the date of his birth, January 4th.
For those living with blindness or vision impairments, Braille is extremely important because it not only conveys written information that they cannot see, but it also promotes independence and improves their quality of life.
The Significance of Braille Literacy
The United States is experiencing a decline in the number of Braille-literate people. According to a 2009 study by the National Federation of the Blind, only 10 percent of Americans with blindness can read Braille. However, the same study discovered that learning Braille can be highly beneficial, as it found Braille-literate individuals are more likely to attain higher levels of education and employment.
For instance, aspiring teacher and glaucoma spokesperson Jasmyn Polite, who was diagnosed with glaucoma at the age of nine, started learning Braille in the 10th grade as a way to better connect to the blind community. She advises that learning Braille is a great way for glaucoma patients – including those with partial sight – to prepare for the unknown of the future, including the possible deterioration of sight. Learning Braille has also taught her important life skills, such as self-determination and constant goal-setting.
Today, there are various ways to boost Braille literacy in youth with blindness or visual impairments. One example is The Braille Challenge, a popular academic competition hosted by the Braille Institute, a non-profit organization. The challenge takes place annually and seeks to get students excited about Braille. Each year, North American students in grades one to 12 who are blind or visually impaired compete in a series of challenges that involve fundamental Braille skills, including reading comprehension, spelling, speed and accuracy, proofreading, and charts and graphs.
Vision Impairments in the Workplace
Having a visual impairment does not need to negatively impact a person’s productivity and career.
Enacted 30 years ago, the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) ensures that people with disabilities have equal access and opportunities within the workplace. In addition to Braille, there are a vast number of accommodating technologies available today that enable employers to provide job support for people with disabilities, including individuals with vision impairments. These ensure that employees with disabilities can excel in the workplace.
For employees with vision impairments, these technologies include computers that display electronic Braille or programs that vocalize text-based information. For those who have enough vision to read large print, technology exists that can magnify text on a page or computer screen.
If you have a disability and are seeking employment, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the qualified and friendly experts at Galt Foundation. We are dedicated to finding the best jobs for people with disabilities.
Feel free to submit your resume here, or call our toll-free number at 1-877-361-1277. We look forward to hearing from you!