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Pillbox Hill Medical Center

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As we move into a new year, Pillbox continues to work towards a key objective in it’s mission statement, being that of continued focus of raising awareness and educating the wider community on matters commonly overlooked or misunderstood.


January 4th brings us to World Braille Day, a time in which we stand back and look at how this resource promotes inclusivity and function, and how it has enabled the visually impaired population to read and communicate. We look back before it’s creation and ask “how” and appreciate the struggles before.


Did you know that less people know braille than you might think? A study within the last 12 years denotes that only 10 percent of visually impaired American’s can read braille. The introduction of modern-day technology and the help of awareness campaigns is helping to reach more people that need it. This is why awareness and further research is vital in the healthcare industry, so we may better arm communities with resources to aid them where needed. Looking at the impact braille can have on life, it’s important to continue to spread awareness so we can bring that opportunity to more people.


What is braille?


Braille is a tactile system of raised dots on a surface that an individual may use to interpret words, based on symbols within what is known as a “braille cell”. Each braille cell consists of six raised dots, which are then arranged in two rows of three. Each of the raised bumps is identified with a number, one through size and with this arrangement, there are sixty-four possible combinations which can then be used as an alphabet, as well as representing symbols or numbers. Below is a representation of the alphabet in uncontracted braille.




What is the difference between uncontracted and contracted braille?


Uncontracted braille is also known as grade 1 braille, which serves to provide an individual with basic dot combinations. Beginners will start with uncontracted brail and eventually progress to learning the more complex form of the alphabet, contracted braille. This uses the same letters, numbers and punctuation as uncontracted, however it introduces a collection of signs to represent the most common words or letter grouping. This in turn, allows for shorthand and takes both less space on a surface, but also allows for faster recognition and reading once an individual is accustomed.


As an example, there are “braille contractions” for words like “the” or “for”, and there are also groupings for letter combinations like “ing” and “sh”. The human brain is able to piece these together very quickly and with continued exposure and training, it becomes second nature.


Braille is very diverse and is considered purely an alphabet, not a language. It can be used to write almost any language, and there are braille versions of languages like Chinese and Arabic.


What can you do?


Recognizing braille signifies inclusivity and diversity and the focus of January 4th is focused on raising awareness for the issues that may impact those in our society that are visually impaired or blind. Louis Braille transformed the blind community and provided vital accessibility resources that promotes equal opportunities. By highlighting braille and explaining more about what it is, and how it might be used, we strive to make more attempts to promote understanding and inclusion.


Don't stay quiet. Share your understanding of braille, engage with your local community and get involved. You never know how you may impact someone's life, and perhaps you are the one to open the door for someone else. Educate children and teenagers in your local schools, demonstrate understanding yourself so others may follow your example. It is important to recognize, understand and educate.

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