I’m a receptionist. I took a call from a woman who said that she was blind. I offered to send her some of the brochures that we have in braille, and she said that “not one blind person that I know even knows braille. It’s outdated, and nobody uses it.”
Is that true? Is there anything else that has replaced it?
Unless it’s changed in the past few years it’s not outdated. My aunt (who has a masters in teaching the blind) just taught me how to read and type braille. Besides if not braille, how do blind people read then??
IIRC, only about 10% of blind people in the US read braille today. Magnifying devices allow many people who are visually impaired to read. Electronic reading devices are also popular with the blind. I had a blind friend in high school who did read braille, but I can understand why it is unpopular – her braille books were HUGE (a slim play script ended up as two volumes each the size of a telephone book), and having things transfered to braille often involved an inconvenient delay.
I don’t think Braille is going to disappear entirely, but with the arrival of computers that can read text for a blind person there’s less need for it.
Those who are totally blind probably find the most use for it, but not everyone who is “blind” is entirely without vision. We now have devices for magnifying vision that we didn’t have 50 or 100 years ago.
Also, there are fewer blind people than when Louis Braille came up with the system. In fact, had Louis Braille had his accident today he would probably retain normal vision in one eye and not lose vision in both.
Back in the 19th Century, people went blind from infections that we can now treat, from diseases that are now rare (and in one instance, now extinct), and from cataracts, which can now be surgically corrected. The technology of optics for glass is much improved, providing better vision to those with poor natural vision. And, as already pointed out, we have made vast strides in other “assistive technologies”. As just one example - the tape recorder, which is hardly new but unkown until the 20th Century As a result of all this, the pool of people who need braille is considerably reduced. Which is a good thing overall.
Up until June, I worked for Memphis City Schools’ Visually Impaired program. We made large print and braille books for the students. One lady scanned or typed up whole text books and workbooks and we bound them. We also had a machine that “puffed up” simple pictures so they could be “seen” too.
And yes, they were huge. One American History textbook could take up ten to fourteen volumes. We usually made two copies for each student so they wouldn’t have to lug them back and forth to school.
From what I saw, there was very little learning from audio programs. I’d think it would still be important to learn braille. After all, some people learn better by reading…not to mention the simple enjoyment of a good book.
The Lion’s Club happened to donate the complete Harry Potter series in braille and large print to our schools last year. The kids loved them.