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Braille Readers are Leaders
2009 Louis Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollar
and Literacy Campaign
Watch the video Braille: Unlocking the Code
For decades, the National Federation of the Blind (NFB)'the country's oldest and largest organization of blind persons'has been the leading champion of Braille literacy. With the passing of Public Law 109-247: The Louis Braille Bicentennial-Braille Literacy Commemorative Coin Act, the President of the United States and the U.S. Congress publicly recognize the critical role that both Braille and the NFB play in the independence, freedom, and success of the blind. The coin design unveiling (Windows Media video) occurred at the 2008 National Convention of the National Federation of the Blind in Dallas, Texas.
The minting of the 2009 Louis Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollar by the U.S. Mint presents a great opportunity to bring exposure to the current Braille literacy crisis facing the blind in this country. Braille is vital to all blind individuals, yet the rate of Braille literacy among blind Americans is alarmingly low. Today in America only 10 percent of blind children are learning to read Braille in school. This continues despite the fact that studies have shown that 80 percent of all employed blind people read and write Braille fluently. These studies reinforce what the NFB has been advocating for years: Braille literacy is the key to employment and full participation in society.
Whether it is through purchasing a 2009 Louis Braille Bicentennial Silver Dollar, providing matching funds for the Braille literacy campaign, or simply helping to raise awareness of this important issue, we need your help. Please be sure to check this page regularly for new information. Together we can change what it means to be blind.
Braille is equivalent to print.
- It is the only system through which children with profound or total loss of sight can learn to read and write.
- There is a significant relationship between Braille literacy and academic success, higher income, and employment.
- Braille literacy = independence, confidence, and success
Today only 10 percent of blind children are learning Braille.
- While audio devices are useful sources of information for blind people, only Braille offers complete command of written language.
- The number of legally blind children in the United States has increased due to several factors, including advances in medical care for premature infants.
- Most blind children (85 percent) attend public schools where few teachers know Braille.
- America would never accept a 10 percent literacy rate among sighted children.
The National Federation of the Blind is initiating a campaign to double the number of Braille readers by 2015.
- 'Braille Readers are Leaders' is a public awareness campaign to increase support for Braille literacy among blind children and adults.
- The U.S. Mint's NFB-Braille Commemorative Coin will be launched in 2009 to celebrate Louis Braille's 200th birthday.
- Money raised during the campaign will be invested in Braille literacy programs.
- The number of school-age children reading Braille will double by 2015.
- All fifty states will enact legislation requiring special education teachers of blind children to obtain and maintain the National Certification in Literary Braille by 2015.
- Braille resources will be made more available through online sharing of materials, enhanced production methods, and improved distribution.
- The American public will learn that blind people have a right to Braille literacy so they can compete and assume a productive role in society.
Braille Program Development
As part of the Braille Readers are Leaders campaign, the NFB is developing Braille literacy programs and outreach projects. Below are descriptions some of these programs.
Braille Outreach Projects
Big ideas begin with grassroots innovation. The NFB includes seven hundred local chapters located in each of the fifty states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Thousands of blind people come together in these local chapters to establish programs in partnership with members of the community to improve the integration of the blind into society on terms of equality. A significant focus of the Braille literacy campaign will be providing local grants to innovative outreach and education programs around the country that have a clear emphasis on Braille.
'That the Blind May Read': An Educational Documentary
The National Federation of the Blind will raise awareness of the 2009 Braille campaign by helping to produce a one-hour documentary about Braille, its history, and the role it plays in empowering the blind all around the world. Never before has an accurate and in-depth educational look at Braille been produced in a multimedia form for a wide audience.
Braille Reading Pals
A Braille reading-readiness program for blind infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and older students with reading delays will enhance literacy through early exposure to Braille. The program will equip parents with early literacy materials and will connect them with resources to support their child's literacy development throughout the years such as mentoring from other parents of blind children and free Braille books.
'Braille Readers Are Leaders' Contest
A dynamic program encouraging Braille reading at all grade levels (K-12) and awarding prizes in a number of categories to students reading significant amounts of Braille each year.
'Braille Is Beautiful' Curriculum
An innovative curriculum to teach sighted students how to read and write the Braille alphabet code and increase students' sensitivity to and understanding of blind persons will be introduced. This modular curriculum will be flexible, with components to serve different age ranges.
Braille Certification Training Program
NFB will undertake an aggressive outreach effort to significantly expand the pool of teachers certified in standardized teaching of Braille and individuals certified in transcribing and proofreading Braille in all Braille codes (literary, math/science, and music).
Braille Research in Literacy
The National Federation of the Blind will help improve Braille-related programs by filling gaps in the Braille knowledge base, designing studies to evaluate the effectiveness of currently available Braille curricula and teaching strategies for blind people of all ages, measuring the blind population and Braille readership, and disseminating accurate information about Braille-related research.
Braille Technology Development
In the 21st century, literacy requires the integration of and accessibility to technologies that facilitate reading, writing, and access to information. Tremendous potential exists for stimulating such development and incorporating the use of Braille into technologies in order to enhance literacy for the blind. Electronic refreshable Braille displays, dynamic tactile pads, new Braille writing technologies, and machines for producing tactile graphics are all examples where technology development is required. New, low-cost Braille writing technologies are also needed as the current tools have not been significantly improved in decades. The National Federation of the Blind will establish a technology development team made up of strategic university, industry, and other supporters to generate new Braille-related technologies and bring them to market at an affordable price.