What is the Braille Literacy Crisis?
As I sit here typing Get in Touch! Inc.’s very first blog post, the crisis is still prevalent and prevailing. The crisis is still brewing, gradually advancing and engulfing new and old victims. However, the crisis is not well-known. What crisis? The braille literacy crisis.
Just like learning English or Chinese, braille is an established language. However, according to a 2009 report from the National Federation of the Blind, braille literacy has dropped dramatically. The findings indicate that less than 10% of the 1.3 million legally blind people in the United States of America are reading braille. Back in 1960, over 50% of blind students were literate in braille, but the 21st century shows that only 10% of blind children are learning braille. This trend is undoubtedly a big issue for the visually impaired community; annually, 75,000 people lose all or part of their vision, and these numbers are predicted to increase alongside the braille illiteracy rate.
These dangerous numbers lead to an increased dependence on others for the blind community. Since 2009, the situation has only slightly gotten better, but numbers are still staggering, and blind dependence is still very prevalent. As of 2009, 70% of blind adults were unemployed, and approximately half of blind high school students drop out of high school; in fact, about 30% of the homeless population in America cannot see anything at all. This situation is partially due to a teacher shortage, but it can also be traced back to the expensive prices of braille books. Braille books cost more than many college textbooks, and there is very little reading material compared to that of traditionally printed books.
Each and every person of the United States should have an equal access to education and an opportunity to expand the mind. This poses a consequent question: how is this attainable when the visually impaired community experiences so many hindrances to success? Literacy is not merely being able to read and write; it is essential for comprehension and clarity of thought. It is also key for successful and sustainable employment. Therefore, much of the poverty in the blind community can be preventable through valid education. Literacy is imperative in providing the blind community with their well-deserved civil rights and access to equality.
About 1 in 3 people with a disability between the ages of 18-64 live in poverty. People with disabilities naturally face more obstacles in life, but with the help of those around them, blind individuals can, too, reconstruct their lives through reading and efficient instruction. Literacy resolves countless challenges. Literacy opens doors. Literacy changes lives.
That’s what this organization is about. To defeat and resolve the crisis is to restore and instill freedom and opportunity within the blind community. We believe that the ability to read and write should be accessible to all. That’s what we fight for, and that’s what we strive for. We want our students to get back in touch with the literary, physical, and emotional world.