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Reading is the skill that matters most for success in school, and children who fall behind in reading are in great academic danger.
In order to succeed in life, people who are blind and visually impaired must be able to read and write. For someone who is legally blind or visually impaired, mastering reading in a print format can be a daunting, uncomfortable chore. Just making out the letters to decode each word is physically and mentally hard work. Reading is no fun! Soon the student falls farther and farther behind in school.
But given an alternative to print, the student with vision loss need not fall behind his or her peers. A student taught the Braille code, given the time and encouragement to develop fluency and held to the same expectation of achievement as his or her sighted classmates, has the same potential for developing a high level of reading skill as any other.
What You Should Know
Braille is equivalent to print.
- It is the only system through which children with profound or total loss of sight can learn to read and write.
- There is a significant relationship between Braille literacy and academic success, higher income and employment.
- Braille literacy = independence, confidence and success.
Today, only 10 percent of blind children are learning Braille.*
- While audio devices are useful sources of information for blind people, only Braille offers complete command of written language.
- The number of legally blind children in the U.S. has increased due to several factors, including advances in medical care for premature infants.
- Most blind children (85%) attend public schools where few teachers know Braille.
- America would never accept a 10 percent literacy rate among sighted children.
* From the National Federation for the Blind report: “The Braille Literacy Crisis in America: Facing the Truth, Reversing the Trend, Empowering the Blind.”