Braille’s Most Important Freedom: The Freedom of Thought
It is commonly accepted in today’s world that the blind are equal in every way to those that can see. Although limited in sight, they have vital contributions to make toward improving life for themselves and for others. In particular, their ability to read using braille and other reading technologies provides the blind with one of the most precious freedoms available: The freedom to think for themselves, and the subsequent ability to express those thoughts to others.
The Blind and the Right of Independence
Another essential right that braille provides to the blind is the right of independence. No one enjoys the feeling of being dependent on another for providing the necessities or niceties of life. There is something inherent in the human spirit that demands that we be free and unfettered. Braille is an essential means of providing this independence to the blind, especially as it relates to understanding and living in the world of today. Through braille the blind have access to education, employment, entertainment and countless other avenues.
To Read is to See
Some have argued that as long as someone can use a machine to help them “read,” braille is an archaic, unnecessary tool. There is, however, a profound and important difference between being able to listen to a book being read on tape or CD and the ability to actually read that book. Reading is a much more immersive experience and is far more likely to lead to profound thought, as well as the expression of that thought, than is merely listening to someone else reading. Being unable to read also limits the freedom of a person in advocating for their own rights, since one must be able to internalize and understand changes to laws that relate to their civil and human rights. Without question there are exciting new alternative technologies that are emerging or becoming mainstream in the world of the blind. That being said, braille is every bit as vital a tool as it was the day the Louis Braille developed it long years ago.