January Is Braille Literacy Month! Here’s Why It Matters


  • Braille Literacy Month takes place every January and helps raise awareness of the importance of the braille reading system for blind persons.
  • Observing Braille Literacy Month encourages support for braille resources, which can improve the lives of those who cannot read written texts. 
  • You can celebrate Braille Literacy Month at your optometry practice by recommending resources on braille or donating to a braille literacy organization.

January is Braille Literacy Month, and as an optometrist, you can do a lot to help raise awareness for this worthwhile cause. Developed in 1824, braille is a reading system designed for blind people that helps them access books, documents, and other necessary information.

Participating in Braille Literacy Month encourages activism and support for the community, which is essential for research and funding for braille resources to better the lives of children and adults with blindness.

The Importance of Braille Literacy Month

According to the American Foundation for the Blind, braille was invented by Louis Braille in 19th Century France. Braille went blind as a young child. During his time at the National Institute for Blind Youth in the country’s capital, he developed an alphabet that he could read with his fingertips, represented by raised dots on the page.

The braille system has allowed people with blindness or low vision to achieve literacy and communicate with those without vision challenges. People can write braille using a special stylus, paper, and slate. A device called a braille writer is typically used to create printed works in braille.

Modern technology has furthered braille literacy efforts, thanks in part to awareness and support raised by Braille Literacy Month. Blind people can now access braille through software programs that can translate writing into a hard braille copy or speak the words out loud. These devices help blind children excel in school and access educational resources.

Benefits of Braille Literacy

Literacy is a vital skill that all children and adults can benefit from. Literacy helps reduce poverty levels, improve health and mortality rates, and promote personal well-being and life satisfaction.

For blind people, knowing how to read and write braille is essential to living an independent life. While many technologies can help those with sight impairments access texts, such as audiobooks, many topics like math and science require written references for a deep understanding.

The benefits of braille literacy for blind children and adults include:

Better Access to Education

Braille literacy provides better access to education for sight-impaired children and adults. Around 90% of blind and low-vision students attend public high schools using accommodations regulated by the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Some blind students attend schools for the visually impaired, especially if they have restrictive needs that can benefit from specialized instruction.

Whichever educational environment they choose, those with vision disabilities have better access to information and education with braille literacy. Through braille resources like The National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled and technological tools, these students can keep up with their peers and learn basic skills like reading, writing, math, and science.

using a mobile phone

More Employment Opportunities

Visually impaired persons who know how to read and write braille have better employment opportunities. Around 74% of blind adults in the U.S. are unemployed and rely on disability income for living expenses. However, 26% of blind people who have jobs are braille readers.

Braille literacy deepens literacy skills like comprehension, expression, listening, and vocabulary. These skills help people with vision impairment perform well at their job and gain independence by earning their own income.

Increased Independence

Access to education and employment are keystones of independence. Braille literacy fosters independence for vision-impaired individuals by allowing them to finish school and obtain higher education degrees and employment.

Additionally, knowing how to read braille helps foster independence regarding participation in societal discussions like politics, economics, and social issues. Braille literacy gives blind people access to information and helps them access texts and documents they need to live an independent life.

Improved Quality of Life

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that people with vision impairments are more likely to struggle with conditions like diabetes, falls, and depression. The limitations on traveling, reading, and dealing with everyday texts can lead to a substantial decline in the quality of life.

Braille literacy mitigates many of these challenges for blind people. With access to educational texts, transcription tools for note-taking or consuming internet material, and resources like the Braille Authority of North America, those with vision impairments can live a full and happy life.

How to Promote Braille Literacy

As an optometrist or healthcare professional, you can promote braille literacy at your practice. Help promote Braille Literacy Month in your community in the following ways:

Community Outreach

Contact your local school board to find out if you can speak with local elementary and high schoolers about braille. Run small group workshops to demonstrate the braille alphabet, read books in braille, and try to source a Perkins Braille machine to teach students to type messages to each other.

Recommend Resources to Patients

If you have optometry patients interested in learning braille, offer to provide them with resources to get started. The Paths to Literacy (previously called DOTS for Braille Literacy) offers free online lessons for families with visually impaired children. The Braille Institute of America also provides free online and in-person workshops for low to no-vision individuals.

Celebrate Braille Literacy Month by sending a newsletter featuring links to braille resources to patients using RevEHR’s RevConnect software.

Volunteer or Donate

Volunteer at your local library and help librarians set up an exhibit of books and other texts in and about braille. If you have a Library of Congress certification in United English Braille (UEB), you can also volunteer as a transcriber or transcription aid. The Braille Institute of America offers volunteer opportunities through its Audio & Braille Literacy Enhancement (ABLE) program.

You can also encourage patients to donate to braille organizations and associations aiding the blind and visually impaired, like the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) and the National Federation of the Blind (NFB).

Make Pamphlets Available in Braille

When selecting educational resources to display in your optometry practice, choose pamphlets and brochures written in braille. You can also have signage and resources transcribed into braille to accommodate your braille-literate patients. The National Federation of the Blind has a list of braille transcription services in locations across the country.

reading braille

Celebrate Braille Literacy Month

Braille literacy is vital to the lives of millions of visually impaired persons across the world. To ensure this essential tool remains accessible for blind children and adults, it’s important to raise awareness in as many ways as possible.

For more information on promoting awareness during Braille Literacy Month, explore the Braille Literacy Program through The Lighthouse for the Blind or check out the National Federation For the Blind’s get involved page.