Why Do I Need To Be Aware Of Braille?
Two hundred years ago, a blind French boy, Louis Braille invented a writing system for blind people, which is used until today, and named Braille after him. Braille letters consist of six dots, the number of dots and their combination make a Braille character. This system is widely used by blind people.
While technology is enhancing, and documents are available electronically, there is still a need for Braille documents. Certain things cannot be communicated electronically, and there is also nothing like holding and reading a real book without being wired. In addition, the ability of being able to read certain things provides people with independence.
Let's look at a couple of common examples. Most likely you have seen little dots around the elevator buttons or on the ATM machine. These dots (Braille digits) ensure that blind people will arrive to the right floor or will be able to withdraw the right amount of money.
Ok, ask the questions you always wanted to ask, or just never got the convincing answer for: why are there Braille signs in the parking garage or on the drive through ATM?
Certainly blind people do not drive by these ATMs after they pull out of the parking garage. However, recently all new elevators and ATMs are equipped with Braille. It is much more cost effective to produce the same type of signs everywhere than having to worry about answering the above questions. Besides, parking garages are normally connected with the rest of the building, and it is not fun to get lost among cars.
But there are other instances when Braille is important. If you are not a Braille reader, it still makes sense to consider offering Braille materials to your employees or customers. Let's assume you distribute a handout when you make a presentation. Blind people in your audience will not be able to read it, but if you ask during the registration if anybody has any special accommodation requests or if people need documents in alternative formats, you might come across people who will request Braille.
When you offer complex documentations with tables and charts, it is much harder to interpret it with a screen reader than being able to feel the entire page at the same time and make orientation easier. It is a good idea to provide these documents in Braille if requested.
Braille also enhances confidential communication. Many banks offer bank statements in Braille. Before the case was that blind people had to ask others to read their confidential printed materials. While it is possible to find trustworthy people, how would you like to be dependent on your neighbor to read your pay statement or your medical records?
If you know anybody who is blind, it is very kind and courteous to send Braille greeting cards to them. If you send regular printed cards, maybe they have to pay somebody to read it.
Once you become famous about offering or not offering Braille materials, you can be sure information travels fast. Unfortunately, even at this age, some service providers still do not fully consider customizing their services to people with disabilities. Thus, once these people find the service which is just right for them, their spread the news in their communities. It is not uncommon that blind people started flooding a restaurant based on one recommendation, which found that the staff provides accurate descriptions, they have a Braille menu, and the waiters will inform people when changes are made on the table.
When Braille is used, it can make a big difference. Louis Braille has definitely made life much easier to people who are blind. At Even Grounds, we wanted to remember Braille's birthday in a very special way. We decided to start offering Braille production services to complement our accessibility work, and to provide an alternative format to those who prefer reading it.