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Myths and Misconceptions about Braille

Braille is hard to learn.  

For a child, learning to read is learning to read, whether it is done in print or in Braille.  With proper instruction in Braille, blind children master reading and writing in Braille in the same time that sighted children master print.  As for adults, learning to read and write Braille can be done in six months or less with proper instruction. 

Braille is slow and inefficient.  

When effective Braille instruction is provided, Braille is read at hundreds of words a minute and is used as fluently as print in all aspects of daily life. 

All blind people have the opportunity to learn Braille.  

Blind individuals with some degree of usable vision (the majority of people experiencing significant vision loss are not totally blind) are more often encouraged to read print (because it is 'normal') and are thus discouraged from learning Braille.  The misconception that print is 'normal' and Braille is 'inferior' means that thousands of blind individuals are taught to believe that it is better to read print at all costs and that Braille is a last resort.  The truth is that Braille is a tool for independence, and it offers equality and flexibility.  Furthermore, many blind people who have some vision master both print and Braille and use them interchangeably depending on what is more functional (e.g., giving a speech using Braille notes).  The more tools in the toolbox the better!

Braille is on the way out with the coming of the digital age and the greater availability of audio material. 

Let's face it, 'listening' does not equal literacy.  Literacy is the ability to read and to write and to do the two interactively.  Children who learn exclusively by listening do not learn about proper spelling, punctuation, and syntax.  As for technology, the irony is that technological advances have made Braille easier to produce and consequently more widely available than at any other time in the history of the code.  Not to mention, the act of quietly holding a book in your hands and reading for the pleasure of reading is a gift.  Independent reading is true independence of the mind.  Braille is the only thing equivalent to print for the blind.