Braille and Other Options After an Eye Injury
Words are all around us. While many people associate “reading” with novels or newspapers, there are hundreds of other subtle ways that the written word plays a role in our everyday understanding of our world. We are using words when we respond to texts, look at billboards, or watch the morning news. Written words constantly allow us to understand and communicate, even when we aren’t thinking about it.
But what about the 3.4 million Americans who are legally blind and the additional 21 million with visual impairments? If they are unable to fully read the written words around them, how do they understand and communicate?
Braille is one important answer to these questions. Since January is Braille Literary Month, it’s a great time to look at how braille helps people with vision loss.
The Background of Braille
Braille is a tactile writing system. It traditionally uses embossed paper with raised dots, with each dot representing a letter, punctuation mark, or shift between words. Braille uses units of space called cells. Each cell consists of six raised dots, arranged in two parallel rows of three. A single cell might represent one letter, or it could represent a number, punctuation mark, or entire word. In total, there are 64 combinations that can be made from the six dots in a single braille cell.
Usually, cells are used either individually or in combination with other cells to make a variety of contractions or a whole word. So, according to an example provided by the American Foundation for the Blind, the phrase “you like him” requires six cell spaces. This is because certain letters would be used as shortcuts to whole sentences. The “h” and “m” in “him,” for example, would indicate that the word was “him.”
The system was invented by Louis Braille in the first half of the 19th century. Blind from a childhood accident, he attended a school for the blind. There, reading was taught by using paper embossed with letters of the Latin alphabet. Finding this approach inadequate, Braille developed his new system, partially based on communication tactics from the French military, in 1824. At the time of his invention, he was fifteen years old. It wasn’t until after Braille’s death in 1852 that his system became commonplace in France, and slowly became used in the United States. Today, braille can be found in a variety of places, from elevator buttons to textbooks.
However, according to a report by the National Federation for the Blind, braille is declining in popularity. Only about 10% of legally blind people in the United States currently used braille. Additionally, 10% of blind children learn it as a primary reading method. Amongst people with visual impairments, there are some modern stigmas against braille, as people believe that it is isolating to people with visual impairments, and simply out-of-date when compared to modern improvements.
The debate around braille usage typically revolves around blind children or children with significant vision loss, either from injury, illness, or genetic conditions. However, people of all ages can experience vision loss. Vison loss or even total blindness is sometimes part of aging and degeneration, though conditions like cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration. Blindness can also occur through trauma, including eye injuries like retinal detachment that may occur during car accidents or other traumatic accidents.
Help After an Eye Injury
When someone loses their vision in a traumatic accident, it is important that they seek compensation for their injuries. After that, however, the next big step is adjusting to life with a visual impairment. Braille and other assistive devices can play an important role in readjustment, and with practice and compassion, help blind and visually impaired people get back to fully experiencing the world around them.
The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.