The Braillists, a community group connecting Braille readers with Braille

braille week logoBraillists is a community focused organisation intent on supporting and furthering the availability of Braille and other tactile reading systems by linking the Braille community, technology innovators and funders.

We believe that Braille is fundamental in providing access to literacy and knowledge to those unable to access printed text. We think it should be a right to expect easy access to Braille material.

Our aim is to connect the community to encourage debate and sharing of knowledge to allow support to come from within. To do this we run groups that regularly hold face-to-face meetings hosting presentations from new technology developers, academic and professional experts and holding topical discussions. We would like to encourage anybody with an interest in Braille and other tactile reading systems to attend meetings in their local area so we are expanding our network of community-run local Braillists groups.

megimage7We feel that Braille technology is lagging behind and its high price tag is making access to knowledge unfeasible to many, further dividing the accessibility gap. We are encouraging new Braille technology producers to test their innovations with our groups early-on in their development so the end user helps to produce the best solutions for themselves.

There are many studies that show Braille literacy helps support better quality of life. Blind and visually impaired Braille readers are 50% more likely to be employed than those that don’t. Access to information and connection to others also helps reduce feeling of isolation and exclusion. We think it is important that everyone is able to access resources that help them live their life equally and independently.

Braille may be suffering from the rise of technology such as text-to-speech but how can you read your child a bed-time story or follow your notes whilst giving a speech if you are listening at the same time? It wouldn’t be acceptable to tell a sighted child they shouldn’t bother to learn to read because they can just listen to it – why should it be any different for a visually impaired child?

The Canadian National Institute of the Blind have a great article that outlines the importance of Braille Literacy http://www.cnib.ca/en/living/braille/literacy/Pages/default.aspx

clearvision featuredOur next group meeting is on Saturday 17th October where the Reading Braillists will be talking with Alex Bitton from the incredible Clearvision library – a postal lending library that adds Braille to mainstream children’s books. Full details on our event page: http://braillists.org/?p=92 Please do get in touch if you would like to come along.

We shall also have a stand at Sight Vision in London on Tuesday 3rd and Wednesday 4th November. If you are attending, please do come along to say hello and find out more. We shall be running a Braillists meeting after the show on Tuesday 3rd. See http://braillists.org/?p=94

As well as local groups, we have an online forum, regular newsletter and attend consumer shows and conferences. You can find all our details, see our events, join our forum and sign up to our newsletter on our website (http://braillists.org/). You can also connect with us on twitter @Braillists (http://twitter.com/braillists).
-written by Steph Tyszka

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