Today is national Braille day and I thought it would be appropriate to acknowledge Braille, as for nearly a hundred years it has provided blind people with a way to read.

Braille was invented in 1824 by Louise Braille, a Frenchman who lost his sight when he was a child.  He built Braille to suit the French language, but many of the major languages have their own versions, including English.

These days, with computer applications like text to speech readily available, the use of Braille is declining.  As a blind or poor-visioned person gets used to text to speech, they can speed up the spoken word to incredible speeds — to the point where untrained “normal” humans can’t understand at all.

There is a YouTube video here, where a blind man demonstrates just how fast he runs text to speech and still understands it.  It’s a garble! As I can only speed up my podcast application to 1.2x normal speech speed before it becomes squeaky and annoying, I find it interesting just how fast speech can run yet a blind person can still understand it.  (Which make me wonder if I could make myself get used to, and still understand, podcasts run at faster and faster speeds — it would save heaps of time!)

However, there are still ways Braille is useful, even in the computer age.

If you have been watching the Daredevil series on Netflix, then you would have seen blind super hero Matt Murdock using a refreshable Braille display.  (See image.)  It is a touchable display of little nubs that rise to create Braille that copies the text on the computer.

The first time I saw these I thought they were the coolest things.

Even if Braille becomes out-moded, it has served a noble purpose for a long while.

Cheers,

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