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January 4th is World Braille Day

January 4th is World Braille Day

World Braille Day is a United Nations observance that raises awareness of the importance of Braille and furthering the inclusion of people with disabilities in all aspects of society.

World Braille Day 2023 takes place on Wednesday, January 4. In 2009, the World Blind Union celebrated the 200th anniversary of Louis Braille’s birth and this turned in to World Braille Day. The United Nations General Assembly made it an official observance in 2018.

The impact of COVID-19 on people with disabilities

Worldwide, there are 1 billion people with disabilities and even under normal circumstances, they are less likely to participate in their communities and access education, employment, and healthcare. They are one the most marginalized groups in a crisis and experience higher rates of poverty, abuse, violence, and neglect.

Life during lockdown posed problems for the visually impaired and especially people who rely on touch to access information and communicate. The pandemic reinforced the importance of accessible formats of information, including audible and digital formats and Braille.

Braille and the pandemic

Parts of the UN system implemented good practices as a response to the pandemic, such as disseminating information in Braille.

  • The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Malawi has produced 4050 braille materials on COVID-19 awareness and prevention.
  • The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has disseminated Braille and audio versions of educational messages.
  • UNICEF has also produced accessible informational materials in Braille.

What is Braille?

Braille was named after Louis Braille, who invented it in 19th century France. In the worlds of Louis Braille, “Braille is knowledge, and knowledge is power.” Braille uses six dots to represent letters and numbers and mathematical, scientific, and musical symbols in a tactile format. People who are partially sighted or blind use it to read books and periodicals. It is essential for social inclusion, education, and freedom of expression and opinion, as explained by the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

How to participate in World Braille Day

  • Organizations around the world host World Braille Day events. Attend one in your area.
  • Talk to someone who uses Braille.
  • Learn about the history of Braille and Louis Braille.
  • Learn about other people who are blind, like Helen Keller, Stevie Wonder, Andrea Bocelli, and Ray Charles.
  • Use #WorldBrailleDay to find stories and information or share your story on social media.

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