TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Louis Braille was only twelve years old when he discovered the braille code in the 1800s. Now, 200 years later, we recognize his achievement by celebrating January as Braille Literacy Month.
But, just like fewer people might be reading print and opting for audio books instead, fewer people are using braille. However, braille and new technology are now merging to create more opportunities for those who read braille.
Zahia Althabata, Assistive Technology Instructor at East Texas Lighthouse for the Blind says that new devices for reading braille can connect to WiFi and Bluetooth, making the compatible with iPhones, Androids and computers.
“You can create a document, you can go to the internet, you can check emails," she says. “And you can download books to read.”
Making braille more accessible has also created more job opportunities, according to Jan Lynch, the Technology Administrator at Lighthouse.
“I’ve just seen that braille has opened up a lots of jobs, like programming jobs, that wouldn’t have been available to [those who read braille] if they had not used a braille display," she says.
For Brittney Walters, a recent graduate of UT Tyler who has been reading braille since she was a child, braille helped her study for college exams, and now helps her in her new role as the Programs Assistant at Lighthouse. She reads and studies manuals for new technology programs completely in braille.
And Lynch says that nothing replaces that ability to read the written word- whether it is print or braille.
“You can never replace the written word," she says. “So when you’re thinking, ‘Is Braille something viable for me?’ say, ‘I don’t know my future. Let me take everything I can get.’”