The End of Braille?

Friday, May 21, 2010


Fewer than 10 percent of the 1.3 million legally blind Americans now read Braille, down from around half in the 1950s. Reporter Rachel Aviv wrote about the dying language earlier this year in The New York Times Magazine.

Comments [5]

Dayle Ann Stratton from USA

Thanks for the validation, Francisco. My question was really a rhetorical one triggered by the title of this piece, which erroneously referred to Braille as "a dying language". Out of curiosity, I actually learned (more or less) to "read" Braille (what I now know from you was Level 1!) when I was a child, though never fluently. It was interesting to learn about the different levels of Braille, and the way your significant other uses it in her daily life.

Mar. 13 2011 04:18 PM
Francisco from Newcastle upon Tyne, UK


My other half is blind. Braille is, essentially, an alphabet. Grade 1 Braille is just the alphabet, punctuation and numbers. Grade 2 Braille is Braille with shorthand (e.g. there are individual symbols for "but", "and" and "tion").

My other half uses Braille because she can write herself a note on a Perkins Brailler (see
) and use it in situations when a powered device would be inconvenient.

May. 23 2010 06:24 PM
Dayle Ann Stratton from Vermont, USA

Is Braille a language or simply an alphabet that is read by tactile means? I only know the rudiments of Braille, but there seems to me a fundamental difference between it and sign language, which is a fully realized language with its own rules of grammar, etc. Isn't Braille used to render exactly the same written language used by non-blind people? Not being blind, I can't speak one way or the other about how blind people might feel about Braille, but I can imagine what a wonderful thing it was when it was the only means of "reading" what others of one's culture had visual access to.

May. 23 2010 02:42 PM
OTM Producer

Dear IW,

I'm sorry that I don't know the station closest to you that broadcasts On the Media. But the list of times and places when we're broadcast in Michigan is here:

Hope this helps

May. 21 2010 10:14 PM
I W Oberfelder from Bloomfield, MI.

Can you give me a time when Rachel Aviv will be interviewed on NPR and what radio station?

May. 21 2010 09:15 PM

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