[AI] your thoughts on braille

Subramani L lsubramani at deccanherald.co.in
Wed Jun 4 03:02:02 EDT 2008

Appologies for the lengthy mail. 
A couple of weeks from now 'Sahana', a trust in Bangalore is holding its
workshop to emphasise the importance of using Braille by the visually
challenged, despite widespread availability of technology. I thought
this could be a right occasion to write (in my newspaper) about how
Braille teaching/learning and its wider use is fairing against the
increasing number of accessible technology/devices. In this regard I
would like you all to share your opinions or personal experience on
Braille learning or use in your daily lives. Giving a few pointer below
for you all to think. I request you to contribute to this topic with
relevant and thought provoking messages, both for and against Braille.  
-The trustee Mr Varadarajan with whom I spoke, doesn't dismiss the
prominent role technology is playing in making the VC employable and
compete with others in the mainstream. But, he feels in the excitement
created by computer/technology, promotion and retention of Braille as
the primary medium of reading/writing for the VCs has been ignored or
given second preference at best.  Who is responsible for this? Do you
think trainers neglect Braille or do you think the urgency they need to
show in getting employment for the VCs justifies any neglect they may
show towards Braille? 
-Though people like Mr Varadarajan have been stressing the importance of
learning Braille, the wide ranging application of technology has
virtually eliminated the need for the VCs to go through the pains of
learning, or, writing in Braille. This, in many ways, is comparable to
the so-called art of letter writing which is almost extinct thanks to
PCs, laptops and mobilephones. So, do you think it is pratcial for the
VCs to adopt to technology at the expense of Braille?
-Of course, the fact remains that Braille is still relevant for 90 or
more percent of VCs who have virtually no access to computer. But, given
that NGOs and training institutes have started to address the access
problem and, hopefully, in a few years time almost all VCs will have
access, do you think Braille can be consigned safely to the museum?
-There are also attempts to incorporate Braille in technologies with the
advent of refreshable Braille systems, Braille keyboards and output
devices. Given that this would still restrict communication only between
the VCs and will not fully help interaction with others in the
mainstream, can we still look Braille as the most relevant medium for
us? (Please feel free to contribute your own views independent of these

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