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WBU celebrates first UN World Braille Day

By  Terry Mutuku, Communications Officer, World Blind Union​​

The World Blind Union is delighted to commemorate the first UN designated World Braille Day, today, January 4th 2019.

The United Nations General Assembly passed a WBU Resolution on 17 December 2018 affirming the World Braille Day which is marked on 4th January each year. The purpose of the World Braille Day is to raise awareness of the importance of braille for the benefit of blind and partially sighted persons worldwide. 

On this day, the World Blind Union is encouraging members, partners and the general public to continue advocating for braille literacy especially in developing countries where braille is inaccessible and expensive for most blind persons. It is critical to produce print works in braille, providing the blind with access to the same reading and learning opportunities as the sighted.

World Braille Day is celebrated in honour of the birth of Louis Braille, inventor of the reading and writing system used by millions of blind and partially sighted people all over the globe. Braille is used by blind and partially sighted people to read the same books, and periodicals as those printed in a visual font. It is used for all European-based languages and has also been adapted to present Arabic, and Asian languages as well. According to the most recent version of “World Braille Usage, Third Edition” (2013), braille is currently being used in more than 140 countries.

The World Blind Union believes that reading is a human right. The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) explicitly mentions the need to recognize braille as the means of communication and social inclusion for blind persons.

The WBU therefore re-affirms that braille is critical and must be accessible world wide. 

Messages from WBU members and global partners

1. Watch video message from WBU's President, Dr. Fred Schroeder at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uWwwLjBiG80&feature=youtu.be

2. International Council for Education of People with Visual Impairment (ICEVI)
On behalf of ICEVI, I am delighted with the news that the United Nations has passed a resolution designating January 4th each year as World Braille Day. If alive today, Louis Braille would be proud to celebrate his 210th birthday with the knowledge that more than 142 countries have adopted his code and 47 countries have prioritised creating and sharing accessible books across national borders through ratification of Marrakesh Treaty and copyright reform.

The challenge for ICEVI, World Blind Union, UN agencies, and the global education community is to promote policies and practices that bring education within the reach of children who are marginalised or disadvantaged as a result of their disability. This challenge includes reaching the 50% of girls and boys in developing countries who, like young Louis Braille, are confined to learning through listening as they have not been taught to tactually read or write.

ICEVI celebrates World Braille Day with our World Blind Union and World Braille Council partners. Together, we will promote braille as an essential enabler of access to education, employment and independence.  
Happy World Braille Day!

Dr Frances Gentle, President, ICEVI

3. Tajik National Blind Union
It is gratifying that the United Nations declared January 4 as World Braille Day. The Braille system is a good system for improving the education of children with visual impairment. With this system, blind children can read, write, enroll in higher education institutions and find employment such as teachers in schools. With braille, blind people can also read legal and scientific literature to increase their literacy level.
Unfortunately, with the emergence of new technologies, fewer people study braille system, even at higher education institutions, and as a result face difficulty while working with blind children.
In this regard, we believe that the World Braille Day Resolution adopted by the United Nations is timely and all persons with visual impairment should pay more attention to study the system and help our future generations of blind children.

Watch a video message from Executive member of the Tajik National Blind Union appealing for inclusive braille education: https://cloud.mail.ru/stock/CkFCaR9M6RM7TiD2eBjniuzs

Mr. Tengniev Kholmahmad, Chairman Deputy of the Tajik National Blind Union

4. Thailand Association of the Blind (TAB)
The United Nations General Assembly has adopted the World Blind Union's Resolution affirming World Braille Day on the 4th January.   On behalf of the Thailand Association of the Blind (TAB), I congratulate this special occasion with Thai blind people together with other blind brothers and sisters all around the world. Today the issues of access to knowledge and participation of the blind in the society have been significantly raised up to the global level. I pledge all of us  to empower ourselves in order to creatively change the world!"

Mr. Torpong Selanon, President, Thailand Association of the Blind

5. African Union of the Blind (AFUB)
The UN recognition of the World Braille day is the most important achievement in our history!

Mohamed Ez Zaoui, past president of African Union of the Blind 

6. Sri Lanka federation of visually Handicapped Executive Committee
Congratulations on the adoption of the WBU's Resolution by the United Nations General Assembly recognizing the World Braille Day, January 4th each year, a day which will never be forgotten.
Although modern technology has surpassed manual systems, braille is still alive. Advanced innovations may result to loosing the ability and creativity of persons with visual impairment.
We urge governments to give more consideration to enhance braille literacy in schools as a subject for the blind. Lack of braille literacy may affect self achievement, skills, abilities of persons with visual impairments. They may lose employment opportunities.

Executive Committee of the Sri Lanka Federation of the Visually Handicapped

7. Blind and Deaf Society of Turkmenistan
Thank you so much for sharing this great news! We value all efforts taken by WBU to advocate for braille and ensuring access to knowledge and information for blind and partially sighted persons worldwide! We will inform about this WBU's achievement with all our partners and stakeholders! 

Chary Ovezov, Chairperson of the Blind and Deaf Society of Turkmenistan

8. Mongolian National Federation of the Blind 
Watch video message from Mrs. Gerel Dondovdorj of Mongolian National Federation of the Blind thanking the UN for recognizing the World Braille Day and emphasizing the importance of braille to the blind community in Mongolia: https://youtu.be/7PdY4FZEkQs​​ 

9. National United Society of the Blind, Barbados​ 
Watch video message from Kerryann Ifill, President of the National United Society of the Blind, Barbados speaking about World Braille Day: https://youtu.be/pxCHSIrjP-M

10. Danish Association of the Blind
France is mostly acknowledged by blind persons for having a citizen, Louis Braille, who almost 200 years ago invented the braille font. This was the first time that blind persons were able to truly read, write and communicate amongst themselves. It was a liberating way for the blind to learn to use a system that was adapted for their specific use by sense of touch. 

It took time before countries around the World, like Denmark, to acknowledge that braille was the indisputably most suitable and manageable way to communicate for blind persons. But now it is, and using technology in an innovative way can lead to boosting and enforcing the production, use and circulation of braille through high speed embossers, notetakers, braille displays etc.

Sighted persons are subject to graphics, letters and other such stimuli constantly. Blind persons are not. Therefore, it is of ultimate importance to keep up braille at all levels starting with parents learning, cherishing and playing braille into the lives of their kids, who with this as a basis, will have a much greater opportunity to become educated and even obtain employment.

That the UN has now fortified the focus on braille by recognizing the Birthday of the inventor, Louis Braille, on January 4, means that braille should be acknowledged, supported and given prime priority at all levels, from the international level down to national and local level. 

John Heilbrunn, Vice-President, Danish Association of the Blind.

11​. Swedish Association of the Visually Impaired (Synskadades Riksforbund) - SRF
The Swedish Association of the Visually Impaired is demanding Swedish  political parties to make their material accessible. And the Swedish state to organize the election to the Europeen parliament in May, fully accessible by offering bralle for the balllots. 

Åsa Nilsson,  Press manager/Pressekreterare, SRF


Read WBU's full statement in commemoration of the World Braille Day at: http://www.worldblindunion.org/English/news/Pages/default.aspx 

The UN approved Resolution will be published on the UN website: www.un.org

For more information and resources about braille, please visit our resources section of  our website at: http://www.worldblindunion.org/English/resources/Pages/Braille-Information.aspx

Also follow us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube for more updates on the World Braille Day celebrations.
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The World Blind Union (WBU) is the global organization that represents the estimated 253 million people worldwide who are blind or partially sighted. Members consist of organizations of blind people advocating on their own behalf and organizations that serve the blind, in over 190 countries, as well as international organizations working in the field of vision impairment. Visit our website at www.worldblindunion.org

For further information, please contact:

Terry Mutuku
Communications Officer, World Blind Union
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