4 January 2022

World Braille Day

World Braille Day, celebrated since 2019, is observed to raise awareness of the importance of Braille as a means of communication for blind and partially sighted people.

Braille is a system that enables blind and visually impaired people to read and write through touch.  It was invented in 1821 by Louis Braille, who lost his sight in an accident when he was 10 years old.

Louis met Charles Barbier, Captain of Napoleon’s army, who demonstrated his ‘night writing’, which was a system used for soldiers to communicate without speaking through the use of raised dots and dashes.

It was clear to Louis that this system would be useful to those who were blind or visually impaired and Louis set about developing his own version of the code using a six-dot version.

In 1824, at just 15 years old, Louis had found 63 ways of using the six-dot system in an area no bigger than a fingertip. He had also honed his ‘planchette’ or writing slate, which gave accurate placing when writing braille. Louis went on to develop signs for mathematics and music.

Louis died in 1852 and by 1854, the six-dot system was widely referred to as Braille and used as the official communication system for blind people in France. Braille was introduced in Britain in 1861, adapted to English by 1902 and used across the UK by 1918.

How to ensure our workplaces are inclusive for blind and visually impaired workers?

  • Ensure the employer provides the necessary reasonable adjustments to support them at work. Contact your PCS rep if reasonable adjustments are not being provided.
  • Ask your colleagues what assistance they need to participate in live and virtual meetings and activities.

Contact the PCS Equality department to join your regional disabled members’ network – equality@pcs.org.uk