A sheet for teaching Braille letters

Contributed by Simon Hayhoe

A sheet for teaching Braille letters

Although touch languages for blind people existed in the previous century - the first recorded was by the blind mathematician Nicholas Sanderson - and sign languages for deaf people existed thousands of years before - they had been used in Jewish society before the birth of Christ - Braille was the first international form of written communication by and for any group of disabled people. This development led to considerable advances in the education of blind people and, later, became the model for advanced academic education for all people with disabilities. Prior to Braille, teaching in institutions for the blind had been based on recitation of texts in a parrot style, touching simple raised letters or, more often, learning handcraft in order to provide a simple living after leaving. Braille allowed independent reading and thinking by blind people, and later inspired similar standard sign languages for deaf people. In the long term, this led to people born blind and deaf teaching academic subjects and forming their own institutes and schools, such as the Royal National Institute for the Blind, and eventually led to what we now call the disability rights movement and equality laws.

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