World Braille Day (January 4th) – History & Activities
Braille is more than a way for people who are blind or visually impaired to read and communicate. It is an important tool that helps them to function in the world and live a life of independence.
Unfortunately, braille literacy is declining, and it has never been more important to draw attention to it. World Braille Day is the perfect way to raise awareness and celebrate the doors that it opens.
What is World Braille Day?
We celebrate World Braille Day every year on January 4th as a reminder of the importance of accessibility for those who are blind or visually impaired. Many institutions and establishments don’t offer braille versions of things like menus, bills, and other written statements. World Braille Day serves as a reminder of how important braille and other accommodations are for facilitating independence for people who are blind or have significant visual impairments.
The United Nations established World Braille Day in 2019. It is treated not as a holiday but as an event of international significance. This day is for spreading awareness about braille and other forms of communication that make it possible for the blind and visually impaired to lead lives that are as independent as possible.
Braille Day is celebrated on January 4 because it’s the birthday of Louis Braille. Louis was born in 1809 and lost his vision after a childhood accident at the age of 3. When he was only 15 years old, he created the reading and writing system known as braille. As the decades passed, adjustments and improvements made this system easier to master, and it was soon used all over the world.
Who celebrates World Braille Day?
This day has important significance to people who are blind or visually impaired as well as their friends, families, and teachers, but everyone should celebrate World Braille Day. This celebration is all about inclusion and diversity and gaining an understanding that people have different needs and requirements to make their way through life.
World Braille Day is all about inclusion and diversity. It’s important that children are aware of others’ differences and gain an awareness of the varying needs and requirements of other groups.
People and organizations celebrate World Braille Day in different ways, but donating money to schools for the blind or organizations that promote braille literacy is an easy and effective way for adults to make a difference.
World Braille Day activities for kids
Celebrating World Braille Day with children is particularly important as it can be difficult for them to relate to people who are different from them. Introducing braille to sighted children helps them understand the challenges that their blind peers face and realize the importance of accessibility. Here are some activities that can help kids learn more about the importance of braille.
Use the braille alphabet to write their name.
Give children a copy of the braille alphabet and have them practice writing their name in braille. You can use a pen and paper and have them draw a representation of each letter, or for older children, poke holes up through the bottom of a piece of thick card stock so they can run their fingers over the dots to get an idea of what their name feels like.
Have a braille scavenger hunt.
Write out a list of objects or locations in braille and have kids run around outside to find them. For example, you can hand them a card with the words “under the tree” spelled out in braille and hide the next clue under a tree. Or, send them off with a list of objects written in braille and tell them that the first team to return with all of the objects is the winner.
Create a color by braille activity.
Create a key that lists the letters of the alphabet and give each a corresponding color. Then, fill the sections in on the coloring sheet that assigns each part of the picture a letter in braille. For example, if A is green, the grass and leaves in the picture would be marked with a single dot to represent the braille A.
Design braille-themed bulletin boards.
If you’re a teacher, create an age-appropriate bulletin board using braille to create a word or saying. Tell the class that the first person to decipher what the board says wins a prize. For older children, put together a riddle in braille and give the prize to the first person who can figure it out.
Play braille bingo.
This activity is great for large groups of kids and can even be played virtually. Create bingo cards using braille letters instead of numbers and give one to each kid. Then, use a chalkboard or dry erase board to write a braille letter and have the kids match the letters to their cards. As in regular bingo, the first person to get a full row or column wins.
Take a braille walk about the community.
Take a walk around the local shopping mall or main street and see how many instances of braille you can find in real life. Look at ATMs, ask local restaurants if they have braille menus, or ask stores if they have braille price lists available. This activity is a great way to show kids how challenging it can be to do things like order food or get groceries if braille options are not available.