World Braille Day is celebrated this Tuesday (4). The date has been celebrated since 2019 at the initiative of the United Nations (UN), which this year highlighted how the covid-19 pandemic served to reinforce the importance of this means of communication for the visually impaired.
“The confinement due to the pandemic has led to a series of problems such as isolation and dependence, especially for those who need touch to communicate,” the UN said in a statement.
Visually impaired people also face a greater risk of contamination due to the difficulty of obtaining guidelines and accessible information in Braille about the disease, highlighted the organization, which since the beginning of the pandemic has been producing materials for this public, with a special focus on Africa.
With the pandemic, there was also an impulse in the development of digital means of communication for the visually impaired, whose main support is audio transcription. Remote learning also hampered the use of braille in schools. All of this generated concern about the so-called “de-Brailization” of this public.
The subject was the subject of one of the meetings promoted during the 7th National Education Congress, which took place in December. At the time, specialists defended the promotion of Braille as the only means capable of truly emancipating the visually impaired in terms of knowledge.
“Braille empowers the blind person. With technological advances, the world has changed, but these advances should by no means make the blind person leave Braille aside, be de-brailized”, said Professor Fernando da Costa Ferreira, who is the coordinator of postgraduate studies at Instituto Benjamin Constant, the main Brazilian institution for the production and distribution of books in braille.
For Regina Caldeira, responsible for the editing and revision area of the Dorina Nowill Foundation for the Blind, only braille allows for true education and autonomy for the visually impaired, as it is a means of genuine literacy and, above all, allows the blind themselves to produce knowledge .
“[Deficientes visuais] they can and should use other technologies, but only textbooks in Braille allow them to solve mathematical equations, learn about chemical structures, read maps, graphs, tables and get to know other images”, stressed the educator.
The Braille System was created by Frenchman Louis Braille in 1925. Blind after an accident in his father’s workshop, he adapted methods used by French soldiers for night communication. The final version was presented by him in 1837. The system is based on embossed dots on paper, which are grasped through contact with the fingertips. By combining six dots, it is possible to make up to 63 different characters. It is worth remembering that this is not a language, but a transcription of the Latin alphabet and other symbols.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) 2019 World Vision Report, 2.2 billion people have some type of visual impairment, with 1 billion having a condition that could be prevented or treated. Also according to WHO, the incidence of visual impairment is four times higher in low- and middle-income countries than in richer nations.
In Brazil, the most recent official data available are from the 2010 Census. According to the survey, there are more than 6.5 million people in the country who cannot see at all or who have great difficulty, equivalent to 3.4% of the population. Of this total, 582.6 thousand are unable to see.
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