Campaign promotes use of Braille

Dec. 30, 2008 at 2:51 PM
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TAMPA, Fla., Dec. 30 (UPI) -- The declining use of Braille in the United States puts visually impaired people at an economic disadvantage, says the National Federation of the Blind.

The federation's new Braille literacy campaign aims to show visually impaired people what they miss by not learning to read and write using the time-honored, raised-dot system of Braille, The Tampa (Fla.) Tribune reported Tuesday.

Fewer than 10 percent of blind children today are taught to use Braille, in large part because of audio books and software that converts speech to text and vice versa, said Marion Gwizdala, a spokeswoman for the federation.

When people use Braille, they "see" the words, spelling and punctuation through their fingers, Gwizdala said. "How can you learn to spell a word that you've only heard and never seen?"

Gwizdala said more than 74 percent of blind people are unemployed or underemployed.

but that Braille readers face far less unemployment than others.

The Braille system was developed in the 1820s by Louis Braille, who was born 200 years ago Sunday (Jan. 4).

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