Braille is a system of six raised dots created in 1821 by French schoolboy Louis Braille. It is the only medium through which children with profound or total loss of sight can learn to read and write.
While tape recorders and talking computers are handy and important sources of information for blind people, only braille allows for complete command of written language.
Braille and Literacy
In recent studies, blind people who learn braille at an early
age have generally been found to complete more years of school,
have higher incomes and employment rates, and read more in
adulthood than do blind people who do not learn braille in
Literacy rates for blind people declined sharply from the late
1960s to the late 1980s, a trend that coincided with the
mainstreaming of blind children in public schools where few
teachers knew braille.
To reverse growing rates of illiteracy, organizations of blind
people, joined by parents and teachers of blind children,
spearheaded a movement to reinstate braille instruction in public
schools. Thus far, more than 30 states have enacted braille
literacy bills. These bills, along with U.S. Department of Education
regulations, have been a catalyst for the teaching and learning
Several factors, including advances in medical care for
premature infants, have caused the number of legally blind
children in the United States to increase, rising from 43,000 in
1987 to more than 56,900 in 2004.
In 2004 there were 1,932 braille-dominant students in grades K-6 nationwide.
Most blind children -- 85% -- attend public schools. About 9 percent are
in private residential schools for the blind, 3 percent are in programs
for the multi-handicapped, and 3 percent are in rehabilitation programs.