About the event
Inaugurated by the UN in 2018 World Braille Day is held on the birthday of its inventor Louis Braille. Intended as a day to raise awareness about accessible services for the blind its also an important day to celebrate how ingenuity can make the world a better place.
Born in 1809, Louis Braille invented what is now called Braille at just 15 years old. It was adapted from an earlier system of writing called ‘night writing’ invented a few years earlier by Charles Barbier. Louis Braille saw night writing’s potential and simplified it from a 12-dot system into a 6-dot one. This made Braille very easy to use and has allowed it to become an almost universal writing system for the blind, being used in over 133 languages.
How to approach it
This is another great day to talk about accessibility, specifically for blind people. You could begin with an empathy building activity that asks students to imagine going about their normal day without seeing. Ask things like: how does this exercise make you feel? What would you need so you could go about your day as normal? Would you need help from others, or from specialist tools like a guide dog?
Next, point out the support blind people receive out and about that students may not necessarily have noticed. This may include guide dogs, pavement bumps to warn of roads, spinning contraptions on the bottom of traffic lights, audio descriptions, volunteer guides or a guide cane. Use these examples to ask: what is important about making everyday life accessible and supportive for those with disabilities? What are we currently doing well? How can we do better?
Finally, the inspiring story of Louis Braille is a great example of how through creativity and determination, just one person can make a huge difference to the lives of others. Focus here on Braille’s young age, show your students that, with a little courage, they are all capable of changing the world for the better. Finish this session by asking students to think about their skills and interests. Ask: what problems would you like to solve? Which people would you like to help? How could you use your skills or ideas to help them?
Braille is the ingenious writing system developed so that blind people can read. It uses a system of dots on a page so that, as you move your finger over them you can read letters, words and numbers. Braille was invented by the 15 year old boy Louis Braille. If you could invent anything to help make the world a better place what would it be?